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Explicit male/male sexual situations.
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Leather After Dark
© 02/01 by Xebbie
The Warrior Princess was dead, or so he'd heard.
Not that he was one to believe the idle gossip as it flooded through the prison halls, but this was a rumour that had lasted for weeks, as far as he could tell. It was hardly the first time tales of Xena's death had spread, but this time rather than tapering out and being replaced, they were growing. Her little blonde too, they said. Dead in a wagon fight. The Twilight was a hoax, the Gods were spared.
So she was dead. As time passed more details came in, and he listened, and he came to believe.
The only one who could truly make his life miserable if he were caught outside of this hellhole... was dead.
The assassin began to plan.
They made sure that he didn't have any utensils, of course - even a spoon could be deadly in his hands, and he knew it, and they knew it. When they fed him, it was boneless food only, no plates, no utensils... the bastards thought they were being clever, being safe.
But he'd been here so damn long... And he wanted out, and now that he could stay out if he made it...
He'd lost weight. It was only natural, since he had a meager diet; he hadn't even seen much of the sun for the past few years. It was natural, but the manacles they'd put him in didn't naturally follow his body's fluctuations, so in the end although it wasn't easy to slip his hands through them, it was possible. It hurt. It hurt a lot.
But pain wasn't a stranger in his life.... His father being how he was, his own profession being what it was, he'd made a study of it early on. Focus, grit teeth, push - and - through.
Sometimes pain reminded you that were alive.
The guard on the night shift approached the assassin's cell, his grimy hands cupping a piece of hard bread and some wilting vegetables. He made his way to the door, shoved against the small metal trap that yielded against his hands and reached in to drop the food to the floor. Only then did he look into the cell; only then did he see the manacles lying empty on the floor, just at the edge of the shadows.
The whispered curse was all he had time for, as hands grabbed at him suddenly, one lunging and pulling his own hand full through the trap. A snapping and grinding filled his head as his arm broke, but the assassin didn't stop pulling; the other hand shot out, grabbed his keys from his belt, and pulled them back in. Another yank against the doorframe, and his shattered arm ground against the wood until the guard saw spots. The pain was dizzying - he wasn't sure if he was going to throw up, or pass out.
Another brutal yank, and it turned out it was the latter. The guard was released, and slid to the ground with a thud, while the assassin's hands held the trap open, fumbling for the lock with the keys -
The door swung open and shut again quickly. The assassin, his hair travelling down his back, his face half-hidden by an unkempt beard, ran lightening-quick hands over the guard's body in a weapons check. Coming up with a short-bladed knife and a large club, he tossed the club aside, swept the knife up in long, slender fingers, and ran before his absence was noticed.
Joxer ordered another ale.
He shouldn't be here. He knew that. There was searching to be done. Gods, they were out there somewhere, he knew it in his heart... And he'd find them. He knew he would.
Just... He was alone. And this was a journey that no man could stand on his own... At least not without a healthy amount of alcohol. Just for the time being.
The bartender accepted his money with neither smile nor frown, just a peculiar sort of bored expression, and Joxer took only one gulp before setting it back on the bar.
They were somewhere... waiting for him. He knew it.
It wasn't that he didn't think that Xena could save them. Xena could do anything. She'd proven that often enough. It wasn't that he thought she couldn't...
It was that he knew she hadn't. Just like when they were in Rome... the nightmares, and the certainty while he was awake - the heavy, pendulous certainty that he had to be there, they needed him somehow.
He shut his eyes, and saw them as they'd looked on the crosses, frozen and blue and hauntingly, miserably beautiful...
His mostly-full tankard of ale (the third one he'd bought) sat on the counter as he stalked off again, back to Argo who was waiting in the stables or something (she wandered out sometimes, particularly when he forgot to tie her up, which he often did... once, in something of a temper, she'd actually made her way into the tavern he was wallowing in and bit at his sleeves until he'd allowed himself to be dragged from the premises).
A little wobbly, he found his way back to the stables where he'd put her up and pushed through the doors. Nearby, his reflection staggered with him... and boy, he needed a shave. And a haircut. And... something was really not right here.
Joxer blinked, nearly losing his balance, as his reflection moved independently and completely outside of any looking glass. "Jox."
In an instant, a thin and extremely dirty hand had shot out and covered his mouth. "Have you gotten even stupider?!" he hissed, looking around.
Joxer pulled away from his brother's grip, and shook his head. "Sorry - sorry," he whispered, trying to get past his shock. "I just - geez - I never thought I'd see you!"
"I need a place to go," Jett rumbled insistently, the look in his eyes an urgent one. Joxer nodded in silent understanding, too grateful to be with a member of his family again to care that he was abetting a known felon. He dashed to Argo and grabbed a blanket from her saddlebags. She shied away, eyeing Jett angrily, and in an earlier time, Joxer would have been jumpy around her when she seemed this skittish. But now, each was all the other had, and both knew it, and he knew he was safe near her.
Joxer flung the blanket at Jett, who looked at it disdainfully. "What am I supposed to do with this - wear it like a toga?"
"They're gonna be looking for you! Just - cover up with it until we can get you shaved and cleaned up and stuff. Then you can pretend to be me or something - lay low." He gathered a few more things together in Argo's saddlebags, and checked his dinar supply. Meg's wasn't too far off - it was the best chance Jett stood for a hideout right now. He could stay there, pretending to be Joxer, while Joxer himself looked around for a place for him to stay. If they were seen together, that was it for both their covers.
He untied Argo and turned back to his brother, who was sniffing the blanket he'd been given, a look of disgust on his face. "This is filthy," he griped.
"Have you looked in a mirror lately?" Joxer shot back, and led Argo towards him. "C'mon. I can getcha a place for tonight, maybe tomorrow. You get on Argo - "
Argo refused, backing up so quickly and forcefully that Joxer, still holding her reins, was pulled off his feet. "Okay. I'll ride Argo... You walk behind us and try to... blend in."
Jett looked displeased with the situation, but since Argo snorted and threatened to rear up when he came close to her, he accepted it.
Joxer did have to admit, Jett had somehow managed to make that dirty old blanket look mysterious and intriguing. He'd ended up draping it in layers over himself, sort of as a poncho, with the top used in a hood fashion; the edges fell over his forehead, obscuring most of the upper half of his face. He looked anonymous, yes - but too anonymous, and Joxer was as nervous as Argo on the way back to Meg's place.
They'd made it there without incident, thank the Gods (which was, Joxer actually felt, a phrase he'd have to train himself to stop using), and after Joxer had taken Meg aside to briefly explain his situation and get her okay, Jett had gone into a back room to cut his hair and clean up. Joxer, who had been forced to acknowledge some time ago that planning things on his own had never been his strong suit, now found himself responsible for the plan to keep his brother out of Maramis and for finding his two best friends.
Meg seemed slightly confused by the whole situation, but she accepted it, as long as Joxer asserted that everything would be okay. She stepped behind him and began massaging his shoulders. "So - he's your identical twin brother, huh? He didn't look all that much like ya."
"Well, he hasn't had a bath in at least a year," Joxer answered absently. Part of him yearned to just stay here, where Meg and her girls were nice to him, and he had no responsibility other than paying for his room and any other services he required. But there was that awful certainty that they were waiting for him... He had to grow up. And it sucked. He sighed. "I'm sorry about this, Meg. I really meant to get going and travel again."
"Hey, don't sweat it. Any family of yours is family of mine," Meg said cheerfully. "'Sides, I can't wait to see what he looks like when he cleans up. Two Joxies... Yum." She grinned at him, looking so totally unlike Xena with that sort of expression on her face that he felt his heart lift a little. "You sure you're not gonna stick around, though? We got your room all fixed up, still, and we can put together a new one for your brother..." She stopped the massage and slid her arms around his shoulders. "I worry 'bout'cha when you're gone, ya know."
All he could do to answer was give a stiff sort of nod. Did she have to ask that every time? He had to grow up now, and Joxer just wished Meg could understand that. She wasn't making it any easier.
"Yeah, I'm gonna go," he said, hoping he sounded firm enough in his decision that she wouldn't press the matter. "We really can't be seen together. I think, if he can pass for me for a little while, and I can go out and find him a place to stay or something... then everything can get back to normal for a while." The unspoken "as normal as possible" hung in the air, and Meg heard it even though Joxer refrained from saying it.
"Well, okay," she said uncertainly. "We'll make your brother feel at home, then, huh?"
He winced. "Uh - no - it'd probably be better not to make him the centre of attention or anything. Jett's kinda... a loner. Besides, if he has to pass for me it's kinda better not to make him pretend to be me too often."
"What? He's not good at it? I thought you guys were twins."
"He..." Joxer trailed off. Jett could play him, sure - in fact he enjoyed playing him. Unfortunately the version of Joxer that he played was usually a caricature of the real man, and Jett managed it by doing as many stupid things as possible. It was the thought that Jett would be convincing by purposely acting like an idiot that Joxer found rather disconcerting. "He can... just... he probably needs a chance to rest, really. That sorta thing."
"Ohhh. No prob. I won't even tell the others that he - or you - are here, unless they find out themselves."
He grinned. "Thanks, Meg. I knew I could trust you."
The door to the other room opened then, and Jett walked out, washed, shaven, and trimmed. His wet hair had been slicked back in the usual way, and other than the fact that his frame was about 20 pounds lighter, he looked like his old self again. His old self clad in rags, but the face was the important thing. He jumped when he saw Meg, then recovered. "It's going to take me a while to get used to that," he mumbled.
Meg was staring. "Ditto," she said, without taking her eyes off of him. "You weren't kiddin', Joxie."
Joxer nodded. "Toldja. Okay, Jett - it's settled, and you can stay here for a couple of days. Meg's a good friend, she won't tell anybody here, and she'll cover for you if people come by."
"Walking alibi, that's me," Meg grinned, but Jett ignored her.
"You don't have to cover for me," he said, in the growling voice that made it impossible for Joxer to tell whether Jett was genuinely pissed off or just keeping up his image of intimidation. "I can leave now. I've spent most of my life on the run, bro, and I don't need -"
"Look, Jett, as a favour, huh?" Joxer interrupted him. "I just - I want to know where you are. I don't want you to drop out of sight for five years, with me not even knowing if you're dead or alive. Let me just do this for you, okay - find you some place where you can set up camp for a while, hang out until they're less focused on you - and I'll just feel a hell of a lot better."
Jett looked at his brother, the face he'd seen in the mirror just a few minutes back when he'd finished shaving, and noticed the lines that had developed there. Joxer wasn't supposed to have those lines. Jett had them, because he'd spent the past four years in maximum security prison and had hated every minute of it. Joxer, though, Joxer was the easy-going one between the two of them (Jace, of course, being an entirely different story). He thought about what Joxer had said the last time they'd met up - about having met Xena and it having changed his life. He thought also of how Joxer had looked whenever Xena's blonde had even looked in his direction. Man, he'd really hero-worshipped those two. He even had a girlfriend now who looked exactly like the Warrior Princess.
But the thing was that Joxer really had changed. He'd gotten him all the way here; he was thinking on his feet for once. It was weird. From the look of things, Xena and Gabrielle had really had a positive effect on him. And then the lines made sense. Joxer had been forced into real life, and pain, and it was as much a prison for him as Maramis had been for Jett.
He sighed. His time being cooped up was practically at an end - what was a couple days more, if it would put his brother's mind a bit at ease? "Okay, bro. You do the footwork, I'll lay low here for a while. Okay? But don't think this means I'm in the habit of letting you think for me. I may have been in prison for a while, but I'm not stupid."
Joxer grinned, looking more the way Jett remembered him. "Thanks. Anyway, if you need anything, just ask Meg. She'll take care of you."
"Sure," Meg said, less flirtatiously than she had before. Jett looked her up and down, more objectively now. It had, of course, been years since he'd been with a woman, and he briefly considered her before deciding that Joxer probably wouldn't like the way it would turn out with his girlfriend. Meg, as if sensing these thoughts, drew back from him a little uneasily. "Uh... I'll take ya upstairs to Joxer's room," she offered, and Jett nodded curtly.
Joxer joined her as she led the way, and said to Jett, "I keep a few of my things here, too, so you can just wear what's in the closet."
Great, thought his brother, the height of Dork Fashion. Oh well - he did appreciate what Joxer was doing for him, not that he'd necessarily tell him so, but he wouldn't really complain, either.
When he was looking over his new quarters - Just another word for 'cell', he thought - Joxer cleared his throat. "Okay - I'm gonna set out. Don't do anything stupid, huh?"
"Just shut up, bro, before I point out how you're not one to talk."
Joxer looked sheepish, frustrated, and at the same time oddly pleased to be back to receiving this sort of abuse. Without warning, he threw his arms around Jett and hugged him. Jett took it, a little uncomfortable, and finally gave a mental shrug and slung an arm around his little brother's shoulders in return.
Wiping his eyes, Joxer let him go. "Okay - see ya soon."
"Right." He was embarrassed now - shows of emotion always embarrassed him. He wished Joxer had just let him noogie him for old time's sake or something.
As Joxer left the room, he considered telling him that he appreciated all this. He considered thanking him for looking out for him. And just for a moment, he strongly considered telling him that he was proud of him - that he'd actually made good. But, he didn't, because he was Jett; and Joxer led Meg out, and shut the door, and was gone.
As Meg walked him outside, through the back door, she commented, "He's not like you. Somethin' about him creeps me out."
"He's a little... intense," Joxer hedged, nodding in sympathetic agreement and hoping that she wouldn't ask why he'd been in prison for so long. He'd neglected to mention that Jett had been at Maramis; Meg would be more at ease if she didn't know that she was secretly housing the most highly-efficient killer in Greece.
"Guess that's natural, when you've been away from people for so long," she added. "Kay - gimme a kiss, and hurry back."
He smiled and obliged, again fighting the urge to just run from it all, stay here with her, and let her take care of everything from now on. He'd always wanted to be needed; now, everyone needed him at once, and he'd live up to their needs or die trying. "Take care, Meg," he said, squeezing her warmly, and departed for Argo.
She watched him go. "If you get killed, I'll never forgive ya!" she called after him.
I know the feeling, he thought as he rode away.
Jett stripped, and tossed the rags he'd been wearing into a pile in the corner. He'd been itching to do that all day, but of course wandering around without clothing would get him arrested again twice as fast. The first chance he got, he vowed, he would burn those hideous things.
The sun was just setting. He stretched on the bed, nude, and exhaustion overcame him suddenly. With a decision that he would spend the next day and a half (at least) asleep, he crawled underneath the bedspread and fell asleep within five seconds.
It was dark when he awoke again, and for a moment he had a claustrophobic feeling that had always been associated with Maramis. He lay totally still, afraid that his escape had been a dream; but it smelled wrong for Maramis, it smelled much more open, much more alive, so he relaxed.
What day is it? How long was I asleep? he wondered, listening to the stillness, to his breathing. There were a few squeals and bumps coming from down the hall, but compared to the constant thumping of the guards and the wails of the prisoners it was golden, amazingly quiet. He wondered what had woken him up.
A strangeness in the feel of the room settled over him. It felt ... tight... Unnaturally ready, with a tinge of menace. Jett associated it with the feeling he had shortly before he made a hit on someone; there was a dark sort of danger here, hiding beneath layers of night and shadows.
And for some reason, there was also a powerful eroticism about it. He remembered again just how long it had been since he'd known any physical pleasure, and felt a warmth in his stomach. The thin sheet lying over his hips hung loosely upon him, and as his skin became more sensitized, the feeling of the linens began to add to his arousal.
He knew, somehow for certain, that there was something waiting for him to speak - waiting for him to ask who was there. He was clearly supposed to be able to feel the presence that was waiting just out of sight, though whether there was supposed to be this sexual effect on him, he couldn't tell. Either way, he refused to give it the satisfaction of giving in to fear, or frustration or whatever it expected him to be feeling. Jett was good at waiting - it came with the job. He lay in bed, taut and ready, watching the shadows.
Finally, at last, the God who had been hiding came out in a show of mystical light and shimmers.
Jett's breath did catch for a moment - despite his family's loyalty to Ares, he'd never expected to actually be looking the God of War in the face. Ares gave him a cool look, cocking his head back and staring down at the lanky man in the bed, and pulled his lip up into a sneer.
He was beautiful.
Without the first clue why Ares would be here for him - it couldn't be to take him back to jail, could it? - Jett didn't allow any reaction to cross his face, not even the appreciative look he was tempted to give. He stared back, looking guarded, and again he managed to wait Ares out.
The God spoke. "I'm not going to beat around the bush, Joxer," he rumbled quietly.
Jett felt a stab of disappointment. He was here for Joxer? ...For Joxer?! Wow - the dork really had made good in his life, if Ares was coming to see him personally. And from the way he addressed him, it wasn't the first time they'd met, either. Curiosity got the better of him, and he remained silent, raising his eyebrows in an unspoken question.
"I know she's supposed to be dead. You and I saw them all die - Xena, Gabrielle, and the baby. But none of us ever thought to check on the kid." He took a step forward, and moonlight spread shadows over his arms, outlining each muscle as they pulled and relaxed. "I'm not going to hurt her, Joxer," he murmured, holding out his hands in front of him as if to show how peaceful his intentions were. "She should have been my child. I would never harm one of my children, or one of hers."
Hers - as in, Xena's? The brat that was supposed to bring about the Twilight of the Gods? Yeah, sure. Not even Joxer would be stupid enough to believe that Ares would take a protective interest in her. Of course, the point was moot, since Jett didn't even know the brat's name, let alone if she was alive or not. He decided to see how this would play out, so he put on one of his Confused Joxer faces. "I dunno...." he said carefully. It had been a while since he'd done his Joxer voice - hell, before today he'd barely spoken at all for a few years - but Ares looked convinced.
"I need you, Joxer," he said, and Jett couldn't repress a shiver at the words, "I need you as my ally. Help me find her, and I'll raise her as my own - in Xena's memory, and Gabrielle's - and I'll make you one of my highest-ranking warriors." He knelt at the bedside, his face level with Jett's. "I can be a very powerful ally, Joxer," he breathed.
Jett never trembled, though if he'd been any other man he would be trembling now. His arousal was hidden only by a sheet, and the fact that the God could no doubt plainly see his state through the thin cloth only added to his excitement. "Show me," he growled, not bothering to do the Joxer voice.
Ares smirked. "You're a man who knows what he likes," he said, his hand snaking slowly down the bedspread and settling at Jett's knee. "I like that," he purred, as his hand began to slide up the other man's thigh, slowly, swirling the sheet as he went. The intermittent pull of the linens against Jett's throbbing organ made his head swim.
The God's mouth met his own, roughly insistent, and Jett's lips parted of their own volition in order to taste the skin and tongue of his partner. Ares matched the fierce, quick pace of the kiss, gripping Jett's head with his free hand and suckling with a will at the slender man's mouth. His hand continued its climb along the assassin's leg, slipping from top to side, finally claiming Jett's already rock-hard member as though it had been his own right all along.
Jett moaned against Ares's mouth, and bit his lover's lower lip as the God's hand encircled his shaft and massaged, teasingly slow, then faster, harder; he was left gasping when Ares pulled away, looking beautiful and superior, and trailed maddeningly soft kisses down his chest. The linen slid away, quickly replaced by hands, then mouth.
Ares' tongue trailed, warm and wet and soft, in circles around the tip of his shaft, then down, towards the base, and he was alternately engulfed and suckled, massaged and licked - the mortal was left grabbing handfuls of the mattress beneath him as he writhed and watched, watched himself disappearing into the mouth of the God of War, watched the moonlight catch and shine on the deity's arms, on his leather-clad back.
He threw his head back as Ares started a pressure on his organ, started to really suck it, and couldn't restrain himself from grabbing the God's head and pulling down, forcing him to deep-throat it. And that did it; he bucked his hips, arching, sliding as deeply down Ares's throat as he could go, and he came, with a surge of self-fulfillment at his situation.
Ares released him, then slid snake-like up the bed to lie next to him, regarding him with a cool, self-confident leer. "Good, I take it."
"Holy shit," Jett panted, and left it at that.
"There's more where that came from, Joxer, if you just give me a helping hand from time to time." He cocked an eyebrow. "So to speak."
Jett had spent a lifetime managing to keep his emotions in check. He didn't even get angry if the time wasn't right. Still, maybe it was the absurdity of the situation, the fact that he'd just broken out after years in near-solitary confinement, the fact that he'd just been given a complimentary blow job by the God of War... who knew - Whatever the case, he couldn't keep himself from bursting out laughing.
The expression on Ares's face changed subtly, from utterly self-assured smirk to tense-and-slightly-disgusted sneer. "I'm glad you found that funny," he said, a warning in his tone.
Recovering, Jett snorted. "Hah.. There... There's only one thing I can tell you, Ares."
"And that would be...?"
"You got the wrong guy," Jett said, chuckling again, and he only laughed louder when Ares's eyes widened and the God jumped up from the bed.
Pointing a glowing fist at him, Ares snarled, "Dare to say that again."
"Wrong ... guy," Jett panted, wiping his eye and hoping that this loss of control wasn't going to become habitual with him. "You of all people ought to know that we're triplets."
Ares's fist didn't waver, but his expression changed yet again - twice, in fact, first to shock and then to realization. "You're Jett. You bastard, you're Jett, aren't you?!"
There was no more laughter, only a cool stare and a brief nod. "And I have to thank you, 'cause this was one hell of a way to celebrate a first night out of prison."
"You BASTARD!!" Ares roared, pulling his fist back with the obvious intent of sending something flying, then stopped himself. "I should crush you, but I'll give you one chance. Got it? One." He glared at the assassin poisonously, and snarled, "Tell me where Joxer is, and I'll let you live."
Jett shrugged. "Can't. I don't know. But..."
The cliffhanger sentence caught Ares. "But what. Don't play games with me, you little worm, or I'll snap you in two."
"But... keep in mind that, when I was growing up, any girl who went for Jox was considered pretty pathetic. Nobody ever admitted to so much as giving him a greeting on the street."
"What does that have to do with this," Ares growled.
Jett shrugged. "I don't know. I just thought it might be about the same in Olympus, is all. Enough so that if Hades heard why I was fried in my bedroom by you, you might find it a little tough to cover for your rep."
From the look on his face, Ares was just barely fighting down the urge to barbeque him anyway. Finally he managed, "All right then. Your life for your silence. But," some of his composure returned, and he drew himself up and managed to look about twice as tall and muscular as usual, "your killing career is over. And the moment you tell anyone about this, there are gonna be about 500 armies on your tail."
Jett shrugged. "Hey, I'm not the one going around giving free head, but whatever you want."
Ares was shaking as he flashed out. That image was going to stay with Jett for quite some time, he could tell. He settled back in the bed, pulling the linen back up over his hips, and allowed himself a grin that was a mile wide. Hell of a way to celebrate, that was for damned sure.