Author: REM
Story Title: Sacrifice
Characters: Ares/Joxer, Joxer/Strife
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Strife goes searching for War's latest obsession and discovers Joxer. Fourth story in the 'Tribute' series.
This rating is for explicit m/m sex, bdsm, rape and sexual violence.

The tale below was woven for love
not for profit, or money, or gold
and we all know to whom the characters belong
(yea verily, this is the standard disclaimer song)
to avoid landing in the Tartarus of old.

So I pray to the gods of MCA/Universal
strike me not dead with thy might,
for I promise to give the boys right back
at the end of just one more hot night.

This story contains explicit descriptions of male/male sexual relations, bdsm, rape and sexual violence. Please skip this story if these subjects disturb you.

This is the fourth and final story in the 'Tribute' series, following Tribute, Hero's Path, and Consort.

The series can also be found at The Joxerotica Archives

Feel free to send comments to:


by REM, the DreamWeaver

Listen to me children
and I'll tell you something sad
Strife has a knife and he's gonna be bad
Cupid has a bow and now it's set to kill
Joxer's in the middle and it's a bitter pill
Destinies are changing, brought down by War's desire
and only Hades knows who will be sacrificed to the fire.

Joxer leaned on his staff and scanned the surrounding countryside from the top of the hill. He glanced back at the village behind him checking his sense of direction. Putting his back directly to the village he looked off to his left and spotted the dark gray walls of his objective in the distance between the thick trees. Joxer straightened up and started down the hill heading for the building. It took him most of the afternoon to make it to the temple, his pace hampered by the badly bruised muscles in his left leg. He didn't mind the pain that much. The wayward kick he'd gotten from that horse was well worth the life of the child he'd saved from being run down by a driverless team of horses and wagon. Joxer hobbled into the tiny clearing that surrounded the front of the building.

He took a moment to lean on his staff and rest, letting his eyes soak in the sight of the small temple. The dark slate gray building had strong, hard lines that gave you the feeling its foundations reached into the center of the world, like Ares. Joxer's heart sped up at the thought.

He limped to the double doors and leaned against one pushing it open. It was gloomy inside the small temple, the only slivers of light coming from the open door and four long narrow slits set near the top of the stone walls. Joxer stepped inside and pushed the door shut behind him. He stood there for a minute waiting for his eyes to adjust to the shadow filled interior as he looked around the compact hall. The altar was near the back wall and overflowed with a haphazard stack of offerings.

There were more weapons stacked along the wall to his left and a life sized bronze statue of Ares centered near the wall on his right. Moving to the side he took a torch down from the wall, then dug into his travel bag for his flint and striker. A few minutes later the torch was lit and he'd only singed one finger. He moved to his left, lighting the torches along the walls, pausing behind the altar to touch the dark red stone it was made of. Finishing his task he put the first torch into an empty holder.

Joxer turned and walked over to the statue. He stopped in front of it and reached out to touch the cold metal jaw, running his fingers down the sculpted face. The statue was a beautiful likeness of Ares, the creator expertly capturing the War God's arrogant look and sensual full lips. Joxer's hand wandered down the throat and across the chest. He pulled his hand back rubbing his fingers together feeling the grit between them. Turning to look around the hall he decided it could use a little tidying up.

Strife was sulking and he'd been at it for hours. Ares was ignoring him again so he sat in a corner of the temple's main hall and picked apart the leather braid of a whip some mortal had left as an offering. He looked over at his uncle who was sitting on his throne watching something in the small temporal window floating in front of him. His uncle had been doing that a lot lately and he always blurred the window whenever anyone started to approach him. Strife was in a near frenzy trying to figure out who Ares was watching.

Pulling a small dagger out of his left arm guard he started cutting the whip into small pieces. He was positive his uncle had a new mortal lover and the thought infuriated him. He'd been pushed aside for a mortal. Again. The happenstance that his uncle wasn't seeing as much of his other lovers, mortal or immortal, was cold comfort against the fact Ares hadn't touched him in weeks. The young god looked back over at Ares and watched the powerful body shift on the throne, one strong hand moving down to the leather clad crotch to adjust the tension growing in the tight pants. Strife tossed the handle of the decimated whip off to the side. The way Ares was twitching Strife was sure someone was going to get it tonight. His insides started heating up at the thought, then he got angry because he knew it wouldn't be him.

Strife watched his restless uncle shifting around on the throne. He jammed the dagger back into the arm guard knowing what was coming next. Ares would untraceablely disappear, and if he followed the pattern of the past few weeks, he'd be gone for hours and come back with seductive half closed eyes and that sensuous, loose limbed, totally sated, 'I've just pounded an entire harem into the sheets' look.


Strife clamped his hands over his ears at the sound of Hera's shriek, delighted beyond measure that she wasn't summoning him. He glanced over at his uncle, grinning at the death grip Ares had on the arms of his throne.


The War God vanished and Strife noticed that the temporal window was still active. He flashed over to it and got a glimpse of a slender mortal and a red stone altar before the window wavered and dissolved. Strife smiled and it wasn't pleasant.

Only three of his uncle's temples had blood stone altars and he figured it was time for him to check out the competition.

Joxer hung the shield on the wall and stepped back to look around the temple. He'd finally finished and there wasn't a corner or weapon that didn't gleam in the torch light. His leg twinged, reminding him he'd been working nearly non stop since late afternoon. Joxer looked up at the stars peeping though the narrow opening near the top of the wall and let himself think about the possibility of Ares coming to him tonight. One hand absently rubbed at his thigh as he stepped forward and sat down on the stone bench below the shields. He decided to rest for a minute then go and make himself some tea for the ache.

Joxer leaned back against the wall and looked over at the statue of Ares. A hand touched his face. He jerked back in surprise bumping his head against the wall, his eyes searching the air in front of him and seeing nothing. A thrill ran through him and he froze, a heated whisper escaping his lips. "My Lord..." The hand touched his face again, the fingers sliding along his jawbone as the thumb raked across his lower lip. Joxer sighed at the invisible touch. His right hand reached out in front of him, something hard and wet touching his lips seeking entrance to his mouth, a hand tangling in his hair pulling his head forward. Joxer's fingertips touched a leather clad hip as he slid his tongue across the tip of the shaft sliding between his lips. An eye blink later he tried to jerk his head back and push the invisible body away from him. The hand in his hair yanked him forward, the invader shoving deep into his throat. Joxer gave in to a natural response, he bit down. Hard. A high pitched scream filled the temple as bright flash blinded him, the invisible form touching him gone.

Joxer pulled himself to his feet, one hand violently scrubbing the musky wetness from his lips as he slid along the wall towards his staff. Once again his mouth had gotten him in trouble and he wished he made more offerings to Hades. He was positive that attempted castration of a god had a death sentence attached to it. He kept moving down the wall towards his staff knowing the weapon wouldn't do him any good against a god, and wondered which god knew enough about Ares' tactics to try and imitate him. Another bright flash nearly blinded him.

Joxer blinked trying to clear the white spots from his vision and focused on a young, slender, leather clad form. "Who are you?"

"I'm the god that's about to mess you up."

Joxer lunged for his staff, his fingertips grazing it as a force picked him up and slammed him against the temple wall. He slid down the cold stone, bounced off a bench and landed on the floor. Joxer scrambled to his feet and started edging towards his staff. "Look, I'm sorry about what happened, you scared me I didn't---"

"You bit me you idiot!" The force picked Joxer up and tossed him to the other side of the room. "All I wanted was to have a little fun. You'll give it up for Uncle Dark and Dangerous but not for me?" The force picked Joxer up and slammed him across the narrow end of the altar. "Wrong attitude cleaning boy."

Joxer shoved himself off the altar trying to avoid the chains snaking towards him. He couldn't move fast enough and found himself trapped, the narrow manacles on his wrists jerking him flat against the dark red stone. The restraints that appeared around his ankles pulled his legs down and apart leaving him bent over the altar. He jerked futility at the chains as the pale figure in black approached him. A hand wound itself into Joxer's hair and yanked his head back. "So you're the new piece the Lord of Bad Attitudes has been humping. What in Tartarus does he see in you?" The hand bounced Joxer's head against the red stone twice before letting go. "The tooth thing was a bad move mortal." The hand grabbed the back of Joxer's shirt and ripped it off him. "Now I'm gonna have to put the hurt on you."

Joxer tried not to think of the implications of his situation. "Who are you?"

"Arugh! Just once I'd like to pop into view and have mortals fall to their knees and say 'oh no, it's Strife, Prince of Pain'. I need a reputation." Strife snapped his fingers and a vicious looking whip with sharp spikes of wire woven through it appeared in his hand. "I think I'll start with you."

Joxer wasn't prepared for the first lash. Nothing he'd experienced in his life could have prepared him for that eternal moment of needle sharp fire that burned across his back with that first impact. Joxer discovered that he'd never known true pain before. Everything that he'd endured, all the times he'd been beaten up, all the times his father had reinforced his discipline with the short whip he carried, any injury he'd ever had was reduced to a memory of mere discomfort against the agony that was ripping open his back.

He started screaming as the third welt was raised on his back. He was sobbing like an abandoned child at the sixth, his wrists raw and bleeding against the manacles. Unconsciousness took him on the tenth. A new level of suffering woke him up then kicked him back into the darkness when Strife dumped a bucket of cold sea water across his raw back.

Joxer woke up to someone slapping him in the face. He tried to move away but a hand grabbed his hair and started yanking his head back and forth. "That's it, wake up. This isn't any fun with you out of it."

"Please, stop... I think I'm going to be sick."

"You're going to be dead so who cares." Strife hissed, jerking his victim's head back and forth even harder.

"I'm sorry... what can I do? What do you want?"

Strife let go of Joxer's hair. "I want to know what he sees in you." The young god pulled the dagger out of his left wrist guard. "I want to know why you're cutting into my time." The tip of the dagger hooked under the back of Joxer's pants and started slicing downward through the soft leather.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't play stupid mortal, not that you don't look the part." Strife finished his alterations on his captive's pants and jerked the garment off tossing it behind him. 'm just like not seeing the attraction here." He trailed the tip of the dagger down Joxer's lower back and across his ass leaving a thin red line. "What is it about you that's got him so hot and bothered?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, please, let me go."

The slender godling stepped forward and grabbed Joxer by the hair, jerking his head back. "So like are you trying to tell me that the Lord of Darkness isn't humping you?"


Strife slammed Joxer's head against the altar. "Ares you moron! He's got a new mortal lover, is it you?"

Joxer felt like he had a crack in his skull wide enough for his brains to ooze out and wondered if insane jealously was an inborn trait in all the gods. He wasn't brain damaged enough to admit the truth to Strife. "What would Ares want with me? The God of War can have anyone he wants."

Strife looked at him then let go of his hair. "Good point." He crossed his arms over his chest and stared down at his bruised captive. "Hera's tits, now I'm back to square one." Strife let his gaze wander down to Joxer's slender hips and across the pale skin of his ass. He moved to stand behind him. "Might as well get something out of this."

Joxer felt Strife's hands on his ass and panicked. "No! Don't---"

"Ya, like this is being put up for a vote."

"Please, you can't," Joxer started jerking against the chains as something cold was poured down the crack of his ass. "He'll kill me."

Strife tossed the bottle he'd materialized over his shoulder, opened his pants and slid his cock between Joxer's ass cheeks taking advantage of the oil he'd dumped there. "Who's going to kill you?"

"A..." Joxer gasped at the feeling of Strife's cock rubbing against him. "My owner."

Strife grabbed his victim's hips holding him in place. "Then don't tell him you idiot."

Joxer tried to crawl across the altar, his voice climbing several octaves revealing his rising panic. "Please, you can't, you don't understand, he'll know, the minute he touches me he'll know and he'll kill me."

"Not my problem," Strife sniggered, tightening his grip on the slim hips and pushing into his captive.

Joxer's mind started gibbering to itself knowing that the invader pushing inside him was sealing his death warrant with each invasive inch. His mind basically ignored everything but the thought that Ares would kill him before he even asked how it happened and he wondered if he'd fry him on the spot or carry out a previous threat to reach down his throat and tear his heart out. A brutal slap across his injured back snapped him out of his morbid thoughts and shocked his vocal cords into action with a scream.

"Hey! I'm not getting what I need here," Strife snapped. "Where's the screaming, the begging for mercy?" Joxer's attention diverted to the slender probe sliding in and out of his ass and realized he wasn't feeling any pain. A hysterical burst of laughter escaped him in rude snorts. Strife wasn't half the god Ares was and his ass was accustomed to its master. The hand slammed down on his back again. "What are you laughing at you idiot?"

A red haze clouded Joxer's vision, the agony giving birth to rabid hate for what was being done to him and the final price he'd have to pay. His voice came out twisted and steeped in acid. "I'm laughing at you and that pitiful little thing you're trying to impress me with."

Strife got his screams. He slammed his right hand down on the raw open wounds crisscrossing Joxer's back over and over until there was blood spattered everywhere and the mortal was barely conscious. Strife leaned against his captive and glared down at him. "You know one really cool perk about being a god? We can alter our shape and size." Joxer shrieked at the feeling of the invader inside him expanding and lengthening, painfully surpassing even Ares' attributes.

Strife giggled and shoved deeper into him. "Let's see if I can impress you now."

Joxer gave Strife his screams and a selection of vile half sobbed curses, but he didn't beg. He did what he was best at and endured the abuse. He endured it until it almost quit hurting, nerve endings too raw and frayed to transmit their notes of agony to his brain. He endured it until something started going cold inside him and he knew he didn't have to worry about his God killing him. He was going to die here and now, sacrificed on a blood stained altar in a brutal parody of what he'd willingly given Ares.

Joxer felt something tear inside him. A cold piercing sickness shocking through him driving his stomach contents up his throat and out of his mouth. A gush of liquid warmth trickled down the back of his legs as the sweet copper scent of fresh blood filled the air. The latest wave of agony turned his body into a giant toothache in a broken jaw. The strange coldness inside him spreading like tendrils of winter ice through the moist marrow of his bones.

A sob bubbled up from his chest bringing with it a red froth of bloody regrets that spilled from his lips along with the whispered name of his love. Joxer felt the schism inside himself widening and started struggling to separate from the broken mortal husk filled with red hot pain. A force slammed him back into himself, a dull roar filling the air as the temple was rocked to its very foundations, something bright going off on the reality side of his eyelids. Another light fill the temple, a black flash edged in flames transmuting into Ares, death's fury written on his face, his dark form surrounded by incandescent lightening crackling with harsh blue-white energy. A flick of his wrist and part of the energy sheared off into a stream of force that slammed into Strife's chest knocking him away from his victim, the violent withdrawal wrenching a strangled scream out of Joxer.

Ares flashed over to the mortal's side. The heavy sound of chains and muffled screaming echoing from behind them. A hot hand settled on the center of the shredded, bloody back, the ruby liquid of mortal life welling up between the long fingers. Joxer closed his eyes in shame, tears sneaking out from under his lashes, his words coming out in bubbles and gurgles. "I'm sorry... I didn't want... I tried---."

"Don't talk."

Joxer flinched at the cold hate frosting the command. A dead, hollow feeling dug a space through the agony inside him as he awaited his punishment for betraying his God. He felt the hand pressing against his back getting hotter, then a strange lassitude filled his spine and started spreading outwards. The foulness around him disappeared at the same time something soft and padded formed beneath him. He relaxed against the softness as the feeling of lassitude poured down his still chained arms and legs, the agony disappearing before it. Joxer lay there drifting in the sea of warmth radiating from the hand on his back. A sweet fog started clouding his brain.

He could hear voices but the words made no sense. The fog covered his consciousness like a thick blanket pushing him into sleep.

Ares struggled to control the fury pulsing through him as he removed Joxer's chains and transformed the altar into a sleeping platform with a thought. His dark eyes were filled with deadly promises as they locked on the fourth occupant of the room. "What in Tartarus are you doing here?"

"Same thing you are."

"I doubt it. Get out." Ares frowned as he watched the beautiful young god walk away from him, wondering what he was up to.

Cupid strolled over to the wall Strife was tightly chained spread-eagle against. He examined the black metal plates that were welded over Strife's mouth, eyes and ears. "Nice work. Whatever you have planned for him, make it painful."

Ares' jaw dropped. He snapped his mouth shut and eyed Cupid warily. "I'm surprised you approve. Now what are you doing here?"

Cupid turned and held out his bow arm, a barbed black tipped arrow still in place on his bow. "You got here a mortal heartbeat before I did."

Ares absently started rubbing his right hand across Joxer's newly healed back as he contemplated the black arrowhead. It would have sent a mortal to Hades' arms and made the phrase 'pulling oneself together' a three hour fact for a god. And imploding hurt. Ares' dark eyes flicked back up to Cupid's face. "Why do you care?"

Cupid slid the arrow back into his quiver. "Question is, why do you?"

"Look around fly boy, this is my temple."

"I see, just that old problem with the defilement of sacred space thing." Cupid watched Ares rubbing Joxer's back. "Uh huh."

The hand stopped moving, a soft burgundy blanket appearing to cover the mortal's nude body. "Why are you so interested in him?"

Cupid gave his uncle a slow visual appraisal. "I felt his heart break one night. I didn't like the feeling. I intend to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Ares looked down a Joxer. "Over who?"

A faint smile touched Cupid's lips at his uncle's narrow eyed expression. "Why do you want to know? Worried someone could take him away from you?"

Ares turned and glared at him. "Get out before I use a battle ax to clip your wings."

"I love it when you get all dark and threatening." Cupid strolled over to him. But you don't scare me like you do the other gods."

Ares' hand shot out and locked around Cupid's throat. "You sure about that feather brain?"


Ares tightened his grip. "Why?"

"Because no one, mortal or immortal wants the God of Love pissed at them."

"I don't give a damn about love."

"Fine, let's see how you feel about it when you suddenly fall madly in love with say... Herc?" Cupid watched his uncle's eyes widen in shock. "Or how about a bad case of puppy love for Cerberus?"

Ares let go of Cupid and took a step back. "You wouldn't dare."

"Jerk the wrong chain and I'll have you so high on love you'll be writing poetry." Cupid stepped forward and reached up, brushing his fingertips down the right side of the War God's bearded face. "But I doubt it would ever come to that between us. After all we're on the same side."

Ares looked Cupid up and down as if he was some new species of flying bug.

"The same side of what?"

Cupid inclined his head towards Joxer. "His side."

Ares folded his arms across his broad chest. "Flap off feather boy, he's under my protection."

"Then I strongly suggest you do a better job of it," Cupid snapped. "Strife almost killed him."

"I'll take care of Strife," Ares snarled. "Now get out!"

"I'm practically gone dude. Just one more thing." Cupid's expression hardened. "The next time I feel Joxer's heart being torn apart, someone is going to end up with an ass full of arrows to the point they're going to look like one of Hera's peacocks." Cupid blew Ares a kiss. "Later." He disappeared in a shower of gold sparkles.

"Twit," Ares snarled. The twang of a bowstring echoed in the temple, a flaming arrow imbedding itself in the stone between his feet. Ares shut his mouth and put the fire out. He checked to make sure Cupid was gone then concentrated and dropped the entire temple into a time pocket. He lowered the sleeping platform and sat down next to Joxer.

Ares watched the mortal sleep, part of his mind still seething in anger and locked on the scene being played out on his altar when he'd arrived in the temple. The god clenched his teeth, the muscles on the sides of his jaw rippling. The only reason Strife was still alive was that dear old dad would strip him of his powers if he killed him. Ares smiled and looked back at the struggling body chained to the wall.

That still left him a thousand ways to cause Strife pain, and there would be pain. Exquisite, piercing, mind sucking agony that would slice through every individual fiber of Strife's being. Ares moaned at the sudden nova of sexual heat the suggestive thoughts triggered. He let go of his mortal form in a flash, converting to pure energy to quell the sadistic fires that threatened to overwhelm him. Ares let himself drift, the cold perfection of his natural state tempering the emotions so highly amplified in mortal form. He let himself drift and think about Joxer. Intellectual curiosity took over and he tapped into that time line and watched the brutal event. When he arrived, he withdrew from the time line. It took massive amounts of power to be where you were while you're there and he was already tired from his explosive reaction earlier. He stayed long enough to see the expression on his face and the fury radiating from his form. The anger that was twisted across his face he could understand, but he'd forgotten how expressive his eyes could be. It was the look in them that bothered him. Underlying the fury and bloodlust was a trace of fear. He didn't understand it nor did he like it.

The War God did the equivalent of a mental stretch, then focused on the reality Joxer was in and went there. He re-materialized next to the mortal and stood looking down at him. A smile flickered across his face, something akin to a touch of pride tickling his emotions. His mortal hadn't begged. He'd done some inventive cursing and a lot of screaming, but he'd never begged. Ares frowned. The mortal hadn't called to him for help either. He hadn't know anything was wrong until he'd felt the mental tracer link he'd tagged Joxer with start to flicker. Ares crossed his arms over his chest. He didn't understand why Joxer hadn't called to him for help.

He wasn't happy about the fact that Cupid was still interested in his mortal either. Ares watched Joxer moving restlessly in his sleep. His attraction to this mortal was something else he didn't understand. The slender human was neither buxom, buffed nor bloodthirsty, not the usual type he went for at all. There was just something about him and damn if Ares knew what it was. He'd even gone to the Hall of Time at Olympus and done a compression review of Joxer's past. It had surprised him to discover how much time Joxer had spent in his temple as a child, but then he never paid any attention to prayers from children.

That wasn't the only thing that had surprised Ares about Joxer's past. He'd watched him grow up being abused, bullied, beaten, ignored and used, then finally leaving home and in the name of trying to be a hero, throwing himself into more stupid and dangerous situations than he should have ever survived. Yet he did, weathering the physical and emotional pain from everything that was dumped on him and never breaking from the weight. Ares jaw tightened. There was a warrior's spirit trapped in that pale slender body and he wasn't going to let it be burdened with more than it could bear.


Joxer was running through a dead forest that was rotting into grays and blacks. The bent and gnarled tree limbs above him reached down twiggy fingers to pluck at his clothes trying to help the icy wind beating against him slow him down. He could hear the maniacal shrieks getting closer with every explosive beat of his overworked heart. A taloned hand snatched at his hair then cold bladed fire raked down his back peeling the skin away in strips down to the bone. He screamed and fell, the harpies on him in an instant, talons slicing open his sides and face as he fought his way free and scrambled to his feet, running for his life. The ground started shaking beneath him, the land in front of him giving birth to a massive red stone temple. He darted for the open doors.

He fell into the temple, blood draining from his wounds as he crawled towards the altar, the iron doors behind him closed by unseen hands leaving him in darkness. He opened his mouth to pray and started choking on his own blood, a river of death pouring from his lips forming tributaries across the floor. His right hand reached out beseeching the darkness, his mind screaming a sacred name. A bright flash and hot lips closed over his blocking the life flowing from him, then a thousand black candles sprang into light around them as the pain bloomed into pleasure. He wrapped himself around his dark salvation and found himself whole.

Strong arms pulled him closer pressing him against a cold leather clad chest and he wiggled as the arms continued the pressure. He pulled his lips free from the kiss, opened his eyes and looked into the pale dead face of a stranger. Terrified, he arched back like a cat trying to break free of the embrace. The arms kept pulling him tighter and tighter against the unyielding body of his captor and he felt his spine popping in protest and discovered he didn't have room to breathe. His fists beat against the icy shoulders as the frozen arms inexorably tightened around him. He could hear his ribs creaking in protest but the arms kept pushing into his back with the pressure of the damned. Something gave inside him and he felt his chest cave in, his ribs shattering and splintering up through the torn flesh of his chest.

Joxer awoke in a panic, his eyes snapping open as he tried to run. He fell off the bed and whacked his head on the floor. He sat halfway up and stared at the strange room in front of him, then strong arms scooped him up and dropped him back on the large bed. Joxer twisted around, the sense of panic still with him as he looked to see who was behind him. "Ares? You're Ares..." He sat up and looked around at the richly furnished bronze and black room. His attention momentarily got caught on the size of the fireplace and he wanted to go sit in it to bake the chill from his bones. He looked back over at Ares. "Where are we?"

"Private space I created in the temple." Ares sat down on the bed hoping he hadn't scrambled the mortal's brains when he'd altered his memories. "You were asleep on one of the benches when I got here. I thought this might be more comfortable."

"I was... sleeping?" Joxer shivered and looked down at himself in disbelief. His hands were shaking and he was uninjured but the shades of his dream still had him by the throat. "I was dreaming?" He looked back up at Ares. "I was asleep?"

Ares nodded, a neutral look on his face. "What's wrong?"

Joxer started to reach for his God then hesitated. "Nothing... I had a bad dream." Joxer dropped his hands in his lap, staring at his clenched fists. "A horrible dream... it just seemed... so real."

Ares leaned forward and slid his right hand behind Joxer's neck pulling the mortal to him. "This is real."

The mortal closed his eyes and melted into the kiss, reveling in the taste and feel of the long, thick tongue exploring his mouth and knew that this was all the reality he needed. The strong arms wrapped around him, the heavy body pushing him back, sliding on top of him, these were the foundations of his world.

He relaxed under Ares' weight enjoying the tickle of his beard as the probing kiss sent little sparks towards his groin. Ares kissed him until Joxer was nearly breathless, then broke the kiss and rolled them over pulling Joxer on top of him. "Hungry?"

"Always," Joxer murmured as he started moving down the powerful body. Strong hands grabbed his upper arms stopping the downward slide. Joxer looked up. "Don't you want me to---"

"That's not what I meant." Ares pointed off to the side. "Just tell me what you want."

Joxer turned his head and saw a long table laden with food appear, the delicious smells spicing the air with temptation. He looked back down at Ares then reached out and pulled the War God's vest open. "I want you."

Ares chuckled. "Baked, boiled or fried?"

Joxer leaned over and licked the God's chest. "Raw." He started licking and biting his way down the hard muscled stomach.

"You like the taste of War?"

"Yes." Joxer knelt between the muscular leather clad thighs and started unlacing Ares' pants. "You're like warm steel dipped in nectar."

Ares thought a stack of pillows into being behind his head and shoulders raising his line of sight. "I sound irresistible."

"You are."

Ares smiled at the reverent tone of Joxer's voice and settled back into the pillows as the mortal freed his erection from the tight leather pants. He watched Joxer's expressive face as the long fingers delicately explored him. It was like watching a new supplicant at his altar, the mortal's face lit from within with a look of awe struck wonder. It made something heat up inside him.

Then Joxer looked up and he saw the passion burning in the wide brown eyes. The heat inside him turned molten and Ares started to sit up with the single-minded thought of burying himself deep in the slender body. He felt himself stop in mid-motion at a butterfly touch of fingers against his stomach. Ares looked down at the mortal's hand, it was trembling.

He looked back up at the soft brown eyes and saw a complexity of fear, confusion and stark need crowding against the passion and knew the cause of it. Ares relaxed back into the pillows giving Joxer seductive smile number three, the one that dropped kings to their knees.

A moment later Joxer leaned over and took him into his mouth and Ares was damn glad he was already horizontal. He let his head fall back against the pillows, his eyes drifting shut as the wet suctioning heat engulfed him. He loved feeling this mortal's talented lips and tongue working on him. Joxer's touch had a way of waking up his jaded senses and making everything new again.

Ares half opened his eyes and watched himself being devoured by that eager mouth. The sight of it was almost as pleasurable as the sensation. Almost. A low growl slid out of him as Joxer increased the pressure of his hands and mouth. He had to remind himself that the mortal form he was in needed to breathe as he felt Joxer's teeth lightly raking the length of his cock on every third stroke. Ares' thought process started reducing itself down to a four word mantra: So good, so close, and he was a deep breath away from his final prayer when Joxer pulled away from him. Ares made a fast mental grab for his temper and his libido, barely keeping either in check long enough to realize what Joxer intended to do.

The War God got control of himself and unclenched his fists as Joxer moved up and straddled his hips. He relaxed back into the pillows letting his mortal take him where he wanted to go. Joxer started by tugging on his vest. "Uhm..."

Ares had them naked before Joxer could finish the thought. He took care of another contingency while he was at it, suppressing a leer at Joxer's blush as the mortal realized what he'd done. He started wondering about the mortal's sanity when a burst of giggles escaped Joxer. Ares raised an eyebrow. "Keeping in mind that this is not a good time to be laughing, what are you cackling about?"

Joxer giggled again. "I'm squishy."

"Squishy?" Joxer nodded and wiggled his ass. Ares realized what he was talking about and broke into a grin. "Too much?"

"If I sit down I'll slide sideways."

Ares ran his right hand up Joxer's smooth thigh. "I think that would depend on what you sat on."

Joxer raised up on his knees and reached behind him capturing Ares' thick shaft and position the tip against the tight puckered center of his ass. "I guess it would," he murmured as he pushed his hips down.

War had to remind himself to keep breathing when he felt the head of his cock slide into Joxer. His hands dug into the bed beneath him as he watched the mortal impale himself with excruciating slowness. He felt the tight enveloping heat descend inch by inch and it took every ounce of his self control not to shove up into the delightful body above him. Ares glanced up and found himself captured by the expression on Joxer's face. It had been decades since anyone had looked at him like that, a heady combination of passion, desire and adoration. His lovers' faces usually showed raw lust or abject terror, fortunately either satisfied him equally well.

When Joxer's weight finally settled across his hips he was the one panting and moaning. The sensations of being buried to the hilt in that hot, slick tunnel shredding his control. Then he felt Joxer's internal muscles ripple and tighten around him and heard the whispered words 'I love you' and erupted in a pulse of white hot pleasure not knowing if the words or the actions had brought him there.

Long minutes later Ares got his realities sorted out, discovered he was still hard enough to cut ice and his mortal was trembling. He rocked his hips, heard a gasp and opened his eyes. He gave Joxer a lazy smile as he continued gently rocking his hips, creating just enough movement to tantalize.

Ares continued the gentle motions and watched Joxer's eyes glaze over and start to close. The look of bone deep bliss on his mortal's face made him decide to use this slow and easy technique more often. He pushed his hips down deeper into the bed lengthening his strokes while keeping the same gentle pace, the soft moans coming from Joxer adding fire to his veins as he pumped in and out of that tight tunnel.

Ares felt his body starting to tense and knew he was on a downhill slide and wanted to take his mortal over the edge with him. He reached down and wrapped his right hand around Joxer's cock, running his thumb over the weeping head. The mortal's abrupt response surprised him and he found his hips pinned to the bed with Joxer grinding down on him, the tight ass clamping around him like a new vise as the mortal's shaft throbbed and pulsed in his hand. His downhill slide converted into a sheer drop as he heard Joxer screaming his name, his last coherent thought slowing time around them drawing out the mind shattering sensations.

Ares felt time snap back into place what felt like a century later. Joxer's weight shifted on him and he grabbed his mortal, guiding his boneless slide to the bed. Ares let go of Joxer and dropped back on the bed, still feeling sharp shocks of pleasure rolling through his body. He cleaned them up with a thought then lay there listening to Joxer's breathing slow from frantic gasping to a more normal pace.

A few minutes later Ares felt a tentative touch on his arm. He reached over and pulled Joxer half on top of him. "Hungry?"

Joxer's eyes sparkled with delight as he glanced down at Ares' groin. "Always."

Ares tightened his grip on the pale arms. "Later, right now I was thinking something on a plate."



Joxer reached down and curled his hand around the thick quiescent member. "It's too long for a plate, I'd need a platter."

The War God instinctively arched up at the touch. "You're insatiable."

Joxer started working his hand up and down the awakening shaft. "What's that?"

"Can't... get enough," Ares gasped.

"No, I can't." Joxer leaned over and managed to lick the tip of the god's cock.

Ares let go of Joxer's arms and was rewarded by the mortal's tongue treating him like he was a stick of hard candy. He closed his eyes and took a fast ride on pure sensation, Joxer's hands and mouth working him like a milkmaid doing morning chores. Ares moaned, all his nerve endings leading from his cock as he started pumping into that wet vortex that was sucking him dry.

The god opened his eyes, a sly grin sliding across his lips. Being in human form defiantly had it's advantages. He reached down and pulled Joxer up into a kiss, tasting himself on the mortal's tongue. Ares spent long lazy minutes exploring Joxer's mouth until the mortal was fairly purring in his arms. A low rumbling sound distracted him and he pulled away and started to get off the bed.

Joxer opened his eyes and grabbed Ares' wrist. "Don't go, please not yet, just a little longer, please..." Ares looked pointedly at the hand circling his wrist. Joxer got the hint and let go of him. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, I just wish you wouldn't go so soon, I mean---"

"Joxer you're talking nonsense again," Ares grumbled as he stood up and stretched. A black, floor length robe of Oriental silk materialized on him as he walked over to the table of food.

Joxer ran his fingers over the sleeve of the midnight blue robe he was wearing not sure what it meant. He looked over at Ares who was nibbling his way through various dishes on the table, making his selections with the point of a dagger. Joxer wondered if he should get dressed then realized he had no idea where his clothes were. He looked around and spotted his staff on a display rack on the wall to his right. That made him feel better but he was still confused as to what he should do next. In the past when Ares got up from the bed or blanket or altar or whatever they'd made love on, it meant that one of them was leaving in the next two minutes.

"Are you waiting for me to force feed you?"

Joxer jumped at the sharp tone and looked over at Ares. "Uh... no?"

"Then get over here and eat. I'm tired of listening to your stomach."

The internal organ in question punctuated Ares' command with a loud gurgle. Joxer poked himself in the gut to shut it up and slid off the bed. It was then he realized his robe barely covered what needed to be covered. If he moved he was going to be feeling a draft. Joxer tugged at his robe. "Why is mine so short?"

"I like the view. Get over here."

Joxer tugged at his robe again and walked over to the table. His stomach got the alarm from his nose and set his mouth to watering. There were a half dozen of his favorite foods among the dishes. He looked over at Ares who was working on the contents of a wide gold platter of what looked like giant clams out of the shell prepared different ways. Joxer looked back down at the dishes nearest to him and started sampling one of everything as he slowly moved down the side of the table.

He fed his stomach as he watched Ares decimate the contents of the gold platter. He became mesmerized by the tip of the dagger as it wove a sensuous pattern from platter to mouth, then envious of it when the God's tongue flicked out licking at the juices trickling down the blade. Joxer forced his attention back to the table while trying to will his nether regions into not responding to what he was thinking, the short robe already revealing more than he wanted it to.

Joxer leaned over the table to grab a small bowl of stuffed grape leaves and felt his robe slid up exposing his ass. He started to straighten up but a hand locked onto his left hip holding him in place as another hand pushed against the center of his back bending him over the table. "Wait, the food---"


The deep rumbling tone of that voice set Joxer on fire. He dropped the bowl he was holding and shoved the other dishes out of the way. Silk slithered across his back as his robe was pushed up to his waist. He braced his arms against the cool wood of the table and didn't care if he ended up using a nearby leg of lamb for a pillow, Ares wanted him and he wanted Ares to have him. He got that familiar oily feeling in his ass and was expecting a hard direct thrust and was surprised to feel just the head of the thick cock push into him.

"By the cosmos, I love watching this."

Joxer tried to push back wanting to satisfy the lust he could hear burning in the deep voice. "Why?"

Ares held Joxer's hips and watched himself sink deeper into his mortal. "Because it just looks so damn good."

Joxer blushed even as he said it, "I wish I could see."

"You have quite a voyeuristic streak, don't you?"

Whether Joxer did or didn't at that moment he sure did in the next as a trio of huge mirrors appeared in front and to either side of him. "Oh gods...." He couldn't begin to describe the intense feelings that surged through him at the sight of Ares standing behind him, robe open showing off that magnificent body while he slowly pushed that beautiful long thick cock into him. "Oh gods..."

"You like?"

"Oh! Gods!" It hit him out of nowhere, his body going rigid as his ass clenched around the cock half buried in it while wave after wave of pleasure stormed through him.

Ares chuckled as he pushed deeper into the tight ass. "You definitely like."

Joxer's wits were so scrambled that he couldn't talk otherwise he would have told him that like was the least descriptive word of how he felt. Instead he braced himself against the table and let the reflections in the mirrors burn into his memory while the sensations of his god thrusting into him created new road maps of his nerve endings. He shivered when he felt the fingers digging into his hipbones tightening.

He turned his head to look in the mirror in front of them knowing that Ares was fast approaching the point of no return and needing to watch him as he crossed that line. Joxer wasn't disappointed and watched in delight as the dark eyes closed in pleasure, the tension draining away leaving Ares looking incredibly young, almost innocent, and Joxer wanted to stop time so he could pay homage to this precious being. He only had seconds before he felt the grip on his hips loosen and the eyes opened, the youthful illusion gone replaced by a seasoned God of War with a feral smile and Chaos shining in the dark eyes. Then the mirrors were gone and Ares was pulling away from him leaving him clinging to the table for support.

Joxer thought about getting up and took a minute to work out the logistics of the feat. Using the table as a support he stood up, turned around and leaned against it, not trusting his legs to support him. Grimacing he shifted his weight to one hip in deference to his well used ass and tugged his robe back into place tying it shut. His insides still felt all wobbly and he wished he could sit down but wasn't sure if he should.

He looked over at Ares who had gone back to snacking off the gold platter. An ornate gold cup appeared in the god's hand prodding a question from Joxer. "How do you do that?"

Ares looked at him like he'd forgotten Joxer was there. "Do what?"

"Make stuff appear."

"It's a god thing."

"But how do you do it?" Joxer persisted.

Ares took a drink out of the goblet he was holding. The dark eyes contemplated Joxer for a long moment. "It's a simple manipulation of available molecules on a subatomic level once you know the physical formula of what you're creating. Any questions?"

Joxer unwrinkled his forehead. "What does that mean in Greek?"

Ares smirked. "It means I'm a god."

Joxer tugged at the hem of his robe again wondering if Ares' was making fun of him. The thought didn't dampen his curiosity. "Are those clams?"


"Are they like clams?"

"Try one."

Joxer slid sideways to get closer then reached out and picked up one of the oysters. He sniffed at it then popped it into his mouth. He chewed twice then reached for another one. The platter replenished itself and Joxer went to work clearing part of it. "These are good," Joxer managed around a mouthful.

A smile tugged at one corner of Ares' lips in response to Joxer's wide eyed enthusiasm. "It's one of my favorite foods."

"What else do you like? Maybe I could cook something for you one day, I'm a---"

"Oh please, don't even think about going domestic on me," Ares snapped walking away from the table.

Joxer felt his face get hot and stared at the table trying to understand what he'd done wrong. He moved to the end of the table and picked up a wet square of cloth from a tray and used it to clean his hands. Dropping the napkin back on the table he looked over at Ares. The War God had settled into a large high back chair in front of the fire. Joxer studied the bearded profile wondering how much longer he had before Ares decided to leave. An old speculation popped up in his head making him wonder who Ares did when he wasn't with him. Joxer glanced around at the bronze and black furnishings and wondered how many others Ares had created the room for.

"Are you going to stand there all night?"

Joxer jumped and jerked his attention back to Ares. "Uh... no?"

Ares waved a hand creating a nest of dark gold pillows at his feet in front of the fire. "Then sit down. What is your problem tonight?"

Joxer walked over and knelt down in the middle of the pillows. "I don't know what you want me to do."

"Try relaxing."

Joxer sank down into the pillows and cast a surreptitious glance at the War God. "Can I ask a question?"

"Don't you always," Ares muttered as he created a cluster of deep green grapes and started eating them. "What?"

Joxer glanced up trying to judge Ares' mood then decided it probably didn't matter. Ares could go from laughter to killing rage in an eye blink so the possibility of getting sliced, diced or fried was ever present. "I was just wondering..."

The War God popped a grape into his mouth and waited for the rest of the question. When his mortal remained silent he prodded him verbally. "Wondering what?"

The words came out in a rush. "Wondering how many lovers you had."

Ares smiled. "Total or at the moment?"

"At the moment."


"Who?" The question popped out of Joxer's mouth before he could catch it. He decided he didn't want to know. Then the mental math caught up with him and he realized that Ares had two less lovers than he did a month ago.

"Two gods, a king, a warlord and a warrior bard."

Joxer mulled over the list aware of the fact he didn't fit anywhere on it. Then his brain knocked on the back of his forehead and he focused on the 'warrior bard' description. He turned to look at Ares in astonishment. "You're sleeping with Gabrielle? Does Xena know?"

"Don't be ridiculous."

Joxer was trying to get the disturbing image of Ares with Gabby out of his head. "You're right, she'd probably kill Gabby if she knew."

"That moralistic yapping little blond is NOT one of my lovers!"

"But you said 'warrior bard' and that's Gabrielle."

"No, she's an amazon bard."

"Oh." Joxer thought about that, then lost control of his mouth again. "Then who's the warrior bard?"

Ares looked at him patiently. "You are."

"But I'm not a bard."

"With those outrageous stories you come up with what else would you call yourself?"

Joxer's face slid into a goofy grin. "You think of me as one of your lovers?"

Ares shrugged. "If I'm doing the horizontal hustle with someone longer than two months I consider them one of my lovers, otherwise it's just side action." He popped another grape into his mouth then tossed the empty stems into the fire.

Joxer looked back at the fire hugging himself with the idea that Ares considered him one of his lovers. He just wished he could tell someone. But then who would ever believe it? Half the time he didn't believe it. Where he was right now was pretty unbelievable. Sitting in a bedroom in front of a fire talking to the God of War. Talking. And Ares wasn't telling him to shut up. An odd feeling of maybe this wasn't Ares came over him. The feeling of something not right dragged out a remnant of his nightmare and brought back the ghost sensation of sharp talons ripping open his flesh. A cold chill ran through him, something touched his shoulder and he screamed and jerked away.

"Joxer?" Joxer was too busy trying to get to his feet to run to hear the shocked tone in the deep voice. A hand closed over his arm pulling him back and Joxer didn't think he just swung. Ares caught the fist in his other hand and yanked him down onto the pillows. "Joxer stop it!" Joxer froze and stared up at him. Ares took note of the panic and stark confusion in the brown eyes. "I didn't mean to startle you, nice reflex response by the way."

Joxer blinked and looked at his surroundings then back up at Ares. "You scared me."

"That wasn't my intention." Ares released Joxer and stretched out on the pillows next to him. "I was going to join you in front of the fire."

Joxer sat up and wrapped his arms around his bent knees. "Why are you talking to me?"

The War God blinked at the question and he could tell by Joxer's expression that he wasn't the only one wondering if the mortal had lost his mind. "Because I feel like it. You have a problem with that?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean---"

"Joxer shut up and peel me a grape."

"But you don't need to peel grapes."

Ares sighed dramatically. "And I thought you were devoted to me. All those promises you made were just words in the wind I suppose. Mortals. They're all alike. They flatter you, they offer themselves to you, grovel at your feet and promise you anything until they get what they want. Then they just ignore you..."

Joxer was hard put not to burst out laughing at Ares' forlorn tone and practiced expression. He got to his feet and walked over to the table the food was on and retrieved a bowl of purple grapes, Ares' litany of an abandoned god droning on as he walked back and re-seated himself in the pillows. The complaints continued, becoming more and more dramatic until he popped a neatly peeled grape between the lush pouting lips.

Ares thought another pillow into existence behind him as he chewed the grape. "About time, I was starting to die of neglect."

Joxer smiled and fed Ares another grape. "I would never let that happen."

"We'll see."

"I wouldn't, I'll always worship you, I'd do anything for you."

Ares watched the play of emotions on Joxer's face and knew the mortal was regretting the last part of his statement. A perversity inside him made him want to know how much. "Anything?"

Joxer stared at the bowl of grapes in his lap. "I won't do anything to hurt Gabby or Xena or---"

"I don't want to hear a list of exceptions, you're either devoted to me or you're not."

Joxer's right hand moved to rub his left wrist guard. "They're my friends."

"I'm your god."

"I care about them."

"You said you loved me. More words on the wind?"


"Then choose."

A long tight silence stretched out between them, Joxer's fingers busy tracing the raven on his left wrist guard, his brow furrowed in thought. Joxer turned and looked at Ares. "You're the God of War, you don't need me to hurt anyone. You could do it with a thought or have one of your warlords or any of you other followers do it."


"Then please don't ask me to make that choice. Don't ask me to sacrifice my friends for my heart."

Joxer had indicated his choice whether he realized it or not and something stirred deep within the dark eyes as Ares' full lips quirked into a slight smile. "You've become quite the poet."

Joxer looked back down at the wrist guard he was rubbing. "It's the staff isn't it."

"And the wrist guards."

"How do they work? Is it a spell like Aphrodite's with the bell?"

"No, but I got the idea from what she did."

"How do they work?"

"They fix what's broken."

"What do you mean broken?"

Ares thought a few more pillows behind him and took a sip from the goblet of wine he materialized for himself. "A mortal can only take so many blows to the head before something starts to short circuit in the brain."

Joxer half turned away from him. "What do you mean?"

"Your father's habit of smacking you in the head with his whip handle didn't do much for your thinking processes or coordination. Your brother's fighting skills are proof of that."

"My father has nothing to do with it, it's just the way I am."

"Yes, and de Nile obviously ain't just a river in Egypt." Ares studied Joxer's tense back. "What surprises me is that you don't hate him for it."

"He's my father---."

"Then until now you didn't know all the reasons you should. He rarely hit Jett."

"That's because Jett was so much like him."

"Smart, ambitious, brutal, bloodthirsty, just my type. Maybe I should pay him a visit."

Joxer winced, wondering what Jett was going to take away from him this time. "I'm sure he'll be glad to see you, he's in prison with dad."

The War God chuckled. "The family that slays together, stays together."

Joxer's voice came out brittle and sharp. "I'm sure he'll throw himself at your feet."

"He already has."

Joxer got up and walked back over to the table and put the bowl of grapes on it. His hands clenched at the thought of his brother writhing under Ares. "Did you..." Joxer's voice faded out at the stark image that started forming in his head.

"Did I what?"

Joxer took a deep breath wondering why he kept asking questions he didn't want answers to. "Did you... and he..." Joxer's voice faded again.

Ares folded his hands behind his head and smirked at the memory. "I threw him on the floor and took him like a war bride."

Joxer digested the information and decided that was more than he wanted to know. It didn't stop the next question from slithering out of his mouth. "When?"

"Remember when Jett killed Turka and lost his blood innocence? That night after the feast he came to the temple with Turka's severed head as an offering."

Joxer's brain unrolled that particular memory scroll for his inspection. His father had been so proud of Jett that night after that raid. Toasting him at the feast and bragging about him to his commanders. Jett sitting on his father's right looking like one of the family cats after they'd caught a bird and shredded its wings. He on the other hand had been confined to his room with a threat from his father that he'd whip the skin off his back if he left it. Joxer snuck down the hall anyway and peeked over the second floor balcony down into the great hall and watched until old Hanna, one of the servants, had caught him and shooed him back to his room. He'd spent the next few hours leaning out his window staring at the family temple that was dedicated to the War God and wondering what was wrong with him. He'd seen Jett leave the house and go into the temple. "He was in there all night."

"Yes, we were."

"I practically lived in that temple. Why did you appear to him and not to me?"

"Why didn't you go on the raids with them?"

"Because I thought it was stupid. They burned and looted an entire valley all because dad wanted control of the river."

"It was a good tactical decision."

Joxer turned to look at him. "They destroyed three villages."

"Casualties are a part of conquest."

"That doesn't mean it's right."

"It's not a question of right or wrong. It's a question of power and control."

Joxer moved over to the fireplace and watched the flames dance over the large logs as the silence built up in the room again. He couldn't get the vision of Jett and Ares out of his head and it brought to mind another one of those questions he didn't really want the answer to. "Why am I here instead of him?"


"My brother."

"You complaining?"

"No, just curious."

"Whatever. Enough talk, I've other plans for that mouth of yours."

Joxer heard Ares' voice coming from a different direction and looked over towards the sound. The War God was back on the bed, the robe gone, the magnificent body sprawled out on display. Joxer stared and wondered how such beautiful dark perfection could be contained in one being. Ares reminded him of a panther, all hard flowing muscles and dangerous appetite with mesmerizing smoky eyes. "You like what you see?" Joxer nodded in response, not sure if he was capable of speech. Ares' voice dropped to a low seductive rumble. "Then come here and show me how much you love me."

Joxer pushed everything else out of his mind. The tumultuous thoughts about Jett, his father, the spell Ares had on the staff and wrist bands, everything fell out of the back of his mind except the here and now. He was being called to the bed of a god and could do nothing but obey the summons. Joxer walked over to the side of the bed feeling his way with his feet, unable to tear his eyes away from the visual feast. His robe vanished as he crawled onto the bed and was pulled into a rough kiss.

Within minutes Ares had turned him onto his stomach and was pushing into him. Joxer arched back, greedy for the thick friction working its way into his ass. He sighed in contentment as Ares' weight settled on him then shivered in delight as the god's cock started ramming in and out of him. Joxer groaned, reveling in the hard pleasure ripping through him with every smooth thrust. He ground his hips into the bed painting the sheet beneath him with the results of his passion, then moaning again as he felt his god spurting hot liquid pleasure inside him. He heard himself begging for more and Ares obliged him. His dark lover finding release inside him again and again until their bodies and the soft fabric beneath them were slick and wet with essences of mortal and god.

A few hours later and far too soon for Joxer, Ares pulled out and rolled off of him. He sighed and buried his face in a pillow then let out a yeeping noise when a tingle swept over him. He opened his eyes and noticed the color of his pillow had changed to a dark bronze. So had the sheet under him and he wasn't lying in the middle of a sticky damp spot anymore. He stretched and yawned, deciding that having a god for a lover kept things decidedly neater.

Joxer turned over and found Ares sprawled on his back, eyes closed with one hand tucked behind his head. Joxer bit his lip and stared, taking full advantage of the rare opportunity to just look at his beautiful God. He started having one of those 'hard to believe it's really happening' feelings and had to stop himself from reaching out to touch.

Ares opened his eyes and looked at Joxer. "I'm trying to get some sleep here. Why are you staring at me?"

"Gods sleep?"

Ares sighed. "Of course we do. Every living thing has the need to consume energy, rejuvenate and procreate among other things, we just do it on several different levels."

Joxer's expression went blank. "Huh?"

"We eat, sleep and screw just like mortals do, got it?" Joxer grinned and nodded. "Good," Ares muttered. "Now go to sleep."

Joxer watched the dark eyes close and went back to examining every inch of the War God as he thought about the concept of gods sleeping. He shivered and wondered if gods dreamed, and if they did dream did they ever have bad dreams. He looked back up at Ares' face and wondered what kind of dreams he had.

The dark eyes opened again and caught him staring. "What?"

"Do gods dream?"

A haunted look passed over the bearded face. "When Gods dream, destinies change."

Joxer scrunched his face up, not sure if his question had been answered. "Then you do dream."

"Go to sleep, Joxer. I'm tired and so are you."

Joxer shivered and wrapped his arms around himself. He was gloriously exhausted but he didn't want to go to sleep. He would permanently give up sleep to just lay here and watch that strong beautiful face. Joxer shivered again and pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. "Ares..uh, Ares?"

"Umm?" Ares half opened his eyes and turned his head to look at Joxer.

"I'm cold."

A soft dark bronze blanket popped into being over them. "Better?"

"Yes, thank you. Uhm... If I fall asleep, will you still be here when I wake up? I mean not that I think I'll fall asleep, I'd rather look at you and being with is you is too wonderful to sleep through but if I did will you be here?"

Ares reached over and pulled Joxer to him, tucking the slender body against his side. "Shut up Joxer, you're talking nonsense again."

"But will you? I don't want to go to sleep if you're leaving soon and---"

"Mortal if you don't shut up you won't live to wake up! I'll be here, now go to sleep."

Joxer shut up and shifted to a more comfortable position. He spent a few minutes fingering the edge of the wonderfully soft blanket trying to figure out what it was made of. A yawn snuck out as he lay there listening to the crackle of the fire and feeling the heat of the god he was pressed against. His eyelids drooped and he shook his head slightly trying to fight off the urge to sleep, the movement causing Ares' arm to tighten around him. Joxer smiled and settled into the embrace. Tonight he wouldn't need Morpheus, he was already wrapped in the arms of a dream.

The End

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