Moments of Transition
Ares returned to his temple to find he had a visitor waiting for him--one he really had no desire to deal with at the moment.
"Go away, Discord. I'm not in the mood."
"But you're never in the mood anymore, Ares," she whined, putting down the battleaxe she'd been fondling and slinking over towards him. "Where's your little pet, the Jerkster? Isn't he always following you everywhere these days?"
"His name is Joxer. And he's dead."
Her expression seemed to reveal slight surprise, but she was impossible to read beyond that. Ares couldn't tell if she really hadn't known as much already or not. "My, my. You are a dangerous boy to play with these days. First Strife, now Joxer...So what happened, did you finally get cheesed at the goofball and fry him?"
"Somebody sent Harpies after him. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"
"Harpies? Not my style, love. They're so...messy." She grimaced.
"But you certainly were jealous."
"Me?! Jealous of some stupid mortal who couldn't even walk straight? Ares, please. Now, are you going to be a drag and mope over your little stud forever..." she paused as she stepped right up to him, running her hands down his chest, "or can we finally get back to having a little fun around here again?"
He pushed her away and stormed over to his throne. "Get out of here. Now. I mean it. And if I find out you had anything to do with this..."
"Promises, promises," Discord sighed. "Fine, I'll come back later. But if there's anything I can do to help...anything..."
"Yeah. Go fuck a centaur or something. Just stay out of my hair."
She gave him the dirtiest look she could muster as she flashed out of the temple.
Ares sat there a long time, trying to calm himself, center himself, before his rage overpowered him and it controlled his actions. He needed to remain in control if he was going to find out who had orchestrated Joxer's death. He didn't believe Discord was stupid enough to have been involved; oh, she envied Ares' position, and she hated Joxer for the way he had diverted the god's more carnal interests away from being her occasional playmate, but would she do something like this, where she would so obviously be a suspect? No. It didn't feel right to him.
But he could not rule her out altogether, either.
Then who else? True, he had a list of enemies long enough to stretch from here to Tartarus. But very few of those had the power to so directly lash out against him and expect not to suffer his ire, Zeus' rules be damned or no.
Zeus...yes, he would probably need to talk to his father about this situation. But not right away. He didn't want to be perceived as being so weak he needed to go running to his father for help. He'd spend some time investigating on his own first.
And that damn war in Thrace...he closed his eyes and slammed his head back against his throne. Of all the rotten timing. He couldn't leave it completely unattended while he went on this personal vendetta. It wouldn't reflect well on him, and he had invested too much time in getting it started to let it die out now. Well, once Discord had cooled her heels for a few days maybe he could let her handle the trenchwork, freeing his own time up.
Besides, he needed something upon which to exorcise this festering anger, so perhaps the war would provide the necessary distraction. Grabbing his sword, he flashed out to the battlefield, intent on spilling blood this night--perhaps not in Joxer's name but certainly a prelude to it.
As time passed slowly, with no discernible day or night to measure its passage, Joxer kept telling himself, I can get used to this. No problem. I'm brave. I'm strong. I'm Joxer the Mighty! I know how to take care of himself.
Of course, that was the thing about this place, he was rapidly discovering. Tartarus seemed designed such that you could never get "used to" things; you could never dull your senses enough to everything going on to you or around you. Like the smell, for instance. It seemed to be constantly shifting yet always somehow foul and putrid, right on the edge of making him want to vomit. But vomiting would have required that he had some food in his stomach, and as he hadn't actually seen anything resembling food since his arrival here, that was an impossibility. Not that he ever felt hungry. Dead people didn't need to eat, after all. They didn't need to do anything, apparently, except wander about, try to stay away from other dead people who were mostly a foul and unpleasant lot around here, and try to find some way to accept that this was how they were going to spend the rest of eternity. If you were injured, the damage healed itself soon enough--or rather, it seemed your spirit just reasserted its image of itself and reshaped the body to match. That was as best as he could figure it out. It was odd, for his body felt to him as solid and real as it ever had, but he supposed it was far from the oddest thing he'd seen or experienced lately.
I can get used to this. Really, I can. And besides, Ares will be back for me. I just need to hang in there until then. He wondered how long ago it had been since Ares had visited him. A few days? Only a few hours? It could have been either, or even months as far as he could tell. All he knew was that he had awoken after a wonderfully peaceful, nightmare-free sleep to find Ares gone. The god's absence and his return to the cold harsh reality of his new existence had been enough to reduce him to tears. It was the first time he'd allowed himself to cry in a very long time. A part of him wondered then, and now, if the god had really been there with him at all or if he'd dreamed the whole thing. Hallucinated it. Maybe he was losing his mind. Maybe insanity was the only way to deal with an eternity of punishment.
And just when things were finally going right in my life, he sighed to himself. I should've known it was too good to last.
The air that filled his lungs here was always cold and damp. Everything was damp, in fact--damp, slimy, and moldy. All the rivers of the world poured out from Tartarus, though he had yet to find from precisely where. Probably down in the deepest chambers where the Titans were held. All he knew was the mist from the running waters was everywhere and the moisture soaked into everything. He wondered if he could ask Ares to bring him a warm blanket or two, the next time he visited. Probably not, but it was worth a shot. It wasn't like he was going to get much of any help on that from anyone around here.
Well, perhaps from one or two people. Unsurprisingly, Joxer had discovered more than a few relatives lurking about, and they'd welcomed him with about as much cheer as could be managed in this place. He was sitting on the rocky edge of one midnight black-river, talking to his grandfather Tyron this particular morning. Or afternoon. Or whatever time of day it was in the world above.
"Tell me, Joxer, did you have a good life?" Tyron asked, after Joxer had filled him in on what he knew of the activities and whereabouts of the living members of their family. Most of those whom Tyron had known well were dead now, too, and those still living rarely thought of him anymore. As such he knew little of what went on in the world except through what stories he heard from newer residents of the Underworld.
"I guess. Some parts of it were really great...other parts of it weren't so great."
"Well, you must've gotten in your fair share of killing and pillaging to end up here. Did the family proud, did you?"
Joxer shrugged. "Not really. Actually, I never killed anyone."
"Never? Then...you must've been a scoundrel? A thief?"
"Nope. I knew a thief, but me, I couldn't even steal a chicken without getting arrested."
"Then what did you do, by the gods, to end up here?"
"I think it was more what I did with the gods. Well, one god. I slept with Ares. Ummm...a lot." He flushed as he made the admission. The last time he had seen Grandpa Tyron, Joxer had barely been ten-years old. It was rather odd to talk about his sex life with the old man now.
"Oh. Well, yes, I do suppose that would do it."
"Grandpa, you've been here a long time...how do you take it?"
"Do we have any choice in the matter?" Tyron shrugged wearily. "You have too much fun in life, you pay the consequences for it in the afterlife. Or you can always try your luck in the waters, ride the currents to the Acherusian Lake and beg for forgiveness. If those you have wronged decide to forgive you, then you've earned your ticket out of here."
Joxer frowned. "But so far as I know I didn't wrong anyone. Except I guess whichever god decided to get rid of me to get back at Ares."
"Well, then, it looks like you're stuck here with the rest of us for the long run, son."
Joxer shook his head. "Ares promised he'd get me out of here."
"And you believe him?" Tyron laughed. "Ares doesn't need to resurrect some dead lover to get his kicks. Don't kid yourself into thinking you're anyone special to that lying coward. He'd never stick his neck out to save anyone's hide, except of course his own."
It's not true, Joxer tried to convince himself. I know we had something special...didn't we? Or am I just fooling myself? He loved Ares more than anything. He worshipped the god of war, he adored him, but love--love was what he felt for Ares more than anything else. He wasn't exactly sure if Ares loved him back, if only because he wasn't sure love was something the god was really capable of feeling. But it didn't really matter. Ares had told him many times that he was "special", that their relationship was something different from any the god had ever had before. Didn't Ares want that to continue? Didn't he want something better for Joxer than this miserable eternity?
Still, the conversation and the doubts his grandfather placed in his head haunted him from that moment forward, along with the rest of his nagging fears. When he could not simply sleep, finding refuge in the sanctuary of his dreams, he spent his time trying to remember, to reconstruct in as much detail as he could supply, every moment he'd spent with Ares. He could lose himself in these recollections sometimes for he did have a good imagination, and the time he'd spent with the god were indeed the finest days of his life.
Funny, how they had begun right after some of the worst...
He couldn't remember the last time it had rained so hard.
The raging downfall had soaked through his clothing long ago, getting under his armor, dripping over his helmet down the back of his neck. Water splashed up and into his boots with every step. The slippery ground had caused him to lose his footing several times, sending him face-first into the cold mud and puddled rain. It was not a pleasant night for a journey, but he didn't have much of a choice. With no decent shelter in sight, he had to keep trudging ahead, hoping for a break in the rain or that he might stumble upon somewhere he could dry out for a while.
The bruises and injuries he'd suffered earlier at the hands of Titus' thugs were just beginning to heal and the physical pain from the assault was fading, but the hurt it had caused him emotionally was going to take much longer to pass. There was nothing as humiliating as being rendered completely useless--nearly being killed, to be honest--for being a naive fool. And then having to sit back and lick his wounds while Xena and Gabrielle cleaned up the mess he'd managed to cause, well, that had only added insult to the copious injuries. As soon as he'd felt strong enough he'd left them to take off on his own for a while, the way that they kept fretting over his every step and movement only making him feel worse and more pathetic the longer it went on. He needed time alone so he could try to regain a little of his dignity and self-respect.
But now, he wished he had waited to set off alone until this storm had passed. If he had stayed with the two women, he would have been in Larissa by now, where they were probably settled in for the evening comfortably warm and dry in the shelter of some kind farmer's barn. Instead, he was alone on a different road, where he believed he would not lay sight on a village until the morning. He could barely see where he was going as darkness was starting to turn the already gray skies black, and mostly he relied on the frequent flashes of lightning over the horizon to illuminate his progress.
Those lightning flashes were becoming brighter, and the thunder was following each flash with increasing speed. He knew that meant the worst of the storm was yet to come, and it wouldn't do to be out here in the middle of nowhere, covered in metal, a perfect target for lightning bolts as Xena had once explained to him. It was time to find some sort of shelter, and quickly.
He increased his pace as much as his aching legs would allow. He had nearly missed the small signpost as he'd passed it, but then he paused, backtracked, and confirmed that he was right: the sign indicated he was not far from a shrine, if he took a small branch here off the main road. One of Ares' shrines. Even if he hadn't been improving his reading skills over the past few months, he would have recognized the distinctive symbols carved into the wood--and the skull left staked to a pole next to the sign in tribute to the war god.
Joxer didn't particularly care whose shrine it was; all he knew was that it likely meant a roof over his head, somewhere he could find some shelter until this storm was over. He took to the indicated path and within a few minutes found that he was standing outside the mouth of a large cave. The skulls gaping at him eyelessly on posts outside the entryway left little doubt that this place was claimed for the worship of the god of war. Hopefully Ares wouldn't mind one of his followers finding shelter here until the storm passed.
The cave was cold inside, but at least it was dry and deserted. No priests, no supplicants, no one to question his entrance. Still, he noted that must have been tended to recently as torches burned, albeit dimly, inside along the walls. Though the dark, gloomy surroundings were not exactly what most would consider inviting, Joxer could think of nowhere better to find some shelter from the downpour, somewhere he could get some sleep. He'd been used to seeing the inside of Ares' shrines and temples since he was a young boy, therefore the blood-stained altar, the scattered bones, the dark scenes of battle and the scowling image of Ares himself did not particularly frighten him any longer.
Even so, he knew the god possessed powers that shouldn't be taken lightly and a temperament to match. A shrine was supposed to be a place of worship and praise, not a place to hide from the rain. Before doing anything, then, he knelt by the altar, said a few prayers, and realized he had nothing on him of value to offer. Nothing but some soggy food, or his makeshift armor, which even he knew wasn't worth more than a handful of dinars. It would be more of an insult to the god than a tribute to offer him any of what he carried upon him.
His scabbard? Well, it was worth some money, but he couldn't see what Ares could really do with it. Its value was more sentimental than anything else, and it was certainly not big enough for that large sword the god carried around with him.
Wonder if his other sword is anywhere near is big... Joxer mused idly, knowing he shouldn't be thinking such things in the god's shrine, but he was feeling too fatigued and at this point to worry. "If you need an offering, you can have me if you want," he actually uttered aloud, giggling a little at the ludicrous thought, and deciding he really needed to get some sleep before he let his big mouth and his overactive imagination get him in deep trouble.
He chose a corner and removed his helmet, then decided to get rid of his armor as well, as he couldn't dry out very well with all that weighing him down and it hurt, pressing against his bruised skin the way it did. Removing it all was no small feat on a good day, and this night it took particularly long and was especially painful. He had a small bag with his medicines and other odd items, including a small blanket. He pulled that out but tossed it aside in dismay when he found it was just as sopping wet as the rest of his clothes. He'd stick to the hard ground; at least it was dry. "Just a few minutes rest..." he mumbled to himself as he lay down. "I'll head out soon as the rain stops..."
But by the time that happened, he was far away in Morpheus' grasp.
Morning came and he stretched lazily, slowly drifting out of his deep slumbers. He felt wonderful. Satin embraced his bare skin, the fabric softer and more luxurious than any bedding he'd ever had the pleasure of sleeping in--much better than his scratchy blanket or a rocky, muddy ground. The soft caress of the sheets made him just want to roll over and drift right back to sleep, not getting out of this bed for the rest of the day.
Wait a minute, he realized with a start. I didn't go to sleep on a bed. I was in...a cave. A shrine.
One of Ares' shrines.
Suddenly he was wide awake. He blinked and looked around in confusion, trying to figure out where he was now, knowing only that it certainly was not the same place where he'd fallen asleep. He was in a bedroom chamber, not very large, yet it was appointed with elegant and obviously very expensive furnishings. The bed was huge and took up a significant portion of the room.
And in a large chair at the foot of the bed, the god of war sat watching him.
Oh...my...gods. What am I doing here? What is he doing here? He's probably going to kill me for falling asleep in his temple, I knew that was a bad idea. But why'd he bring me...wherever I am...to do it? ...And where did my clothes go?!
Joxer clutched at the sheets, which he had suddenly realized were all that was covering his bare body. Still, Ares just sat there, watching him. The god didn't look angry, Joxer noticed with relief. Just...pensive. Amused, perhaps, given the slight upward curve of his full lips that suggested an attempt at a smile, but not a very successful one.
Joxer figured he ought to say something, but he couldn't figure out what you were supposed to say when you woke up stark naked in an immense bed with an Olympian watching you. And not just any Olympian, but the god of war. For most of his life, Ares was the god he'd prayed to devotedly for guidance. He was powerful, deadly, and as Xena described him, utterly heartless and cruel.
Well, he might be all that, but damn if he wasn't also an incredible sight to behold. It was all too easy to simply sit there and stare at him, entranced, marveling at the sight of that completely unearthly body and face. He was a god, all right. No mortal man could ever look that good.
Joxer tried to quench those thoughts and finally managed to squeak out, "Um...hi, Ares."
"Joxer," the god acknowledged. Joxer was a little surprised and pleased that the god knew his name. Of course he does, idiot, he's a god. And you're probably on his Ten Most Pathetic Warriors List. "Did you sleep well?" Ares asked.
"Uh, I did...I guess. Thanks. I mean, you were the one who brought me here, right? Wherever here is..." This place didn't look like how Joxer had imagined the god's home on Olympus would look. It was small, almost rustic. A large window behind the god's throne opened onto what looked like a thick forest, and the air was filled with the calls of wild birds and animals.
Ares nodded slightly.
"You're not mad at me for sleeping in your shrine, are you? 'Cause, um, I'm really sorry if you are. I just was so tired and wet and I couldn't find anywhere else to get out of the rain so I figured--"
"Do you always talk so much?"
"Sorry," Joxer quickly apologized, not eager to get on the god's bad side. "When I get nervous I tend to talk a lot."
"And I make you nervous?"
"Well, kind of. I mean...well, you're Ares."
"That's right. And I should make you nervous. All mortals should look to me with fear, and respect." His voice was so incredibly seductive, soft...almost hypnotic...yet at the same time it managed to convey such power and potential for violence. If not for the fear Joxer felt that he was soon to meet an early grave, just listening to that beguiling voice would have been enough to arouse him, to awaken his cock.
As it was, it merely twitched a little.
"Uh...yeah. You're right." Rubbing his chin nervously, Joxer noticed something else as he glanced at his arms and felt his face: his bruises were gone. Completely. No wonder he'd felt so good after he'd woken up. For the past few days he'd been living in constant pain of one degree or another, but now he felt none of it.
"Did you...?" he started, looking towards the god with surprise.
Ares merely shrugged and said, "It was nothing. I guess I was in a generous mood."
Ares and the word "generous" didn't seem to go together very well, and Joxer's urge to flee this rather too bizarre situation was increasing rapidly. "Huh. Well, thanks. I mean, not that I can't take a few punches. But anyway...uh, if you're not mad at me, can I go now?"
"Do you want to leave?"
"I...don't know," he answered truthfully. The tone of the question had quenched his flight impulse slightly. Something about it, almost too seductive now...He couldn't have brought me here for...no way. But still, this situation is strange enough already...and I did make that stupid-ass remark about offering myself last night... "Do you want me to stay?" Joxer asked cautiously.
Ares shrugged as if it really made no difference to him what Joxer decided to do. "For now, you can stay. If you can keep that mouth of yours quiet; otherwise, you're going to give me a headache." Ares stood up and walked over to the bed. His dark eyes glared down into Joxer's as he promised, "And you don't want to see what I'm like when I get a headache, understood?"
Joxer nodded vigorously--even though a part of his brain was wondering how a god could get a headache and not be able to just wish it away or something. But he stopped before asking the question.
"Good." Ares sat on the bed, uncomfortably close as far as Joxer was concerned. "You want to know why you're here, I'm sure. Let's just say I'm curious about you, Joxer. Your persistence is admirable, even if your skills are laughable."
Joxer looked away with an embarrassed flush. He knew his problems well enough; nevertheless it hurt to hear them coming from the mouth of a god. Ready for the put-downs to continue, he instead jumped slightly in surprise as he felt the touch of Ares' hand upon his shoulder, then brushing up along the curve of his neck. The touch was gentle, not aggressive. It almost felt like a lover's caress. Joxer shuddered at the thought. He doesn't...he couldn't be... He lifted his eyes to meet Ares' questioningly.
"You've always wanted to know power, haven't you?" Ares asked. "The power of a warrior; the power only I can grant to those who deserve it."
The answer slipped from his lips in a breathless sigh, without thought. "Yes..."
"I wonder if you could really handle it."
The look in Ares' eyes, the suggestive way his hand moved now on a slow path down Joxer's bare back, told Joxer exactly what Ares was really asking him if he could handle. This is impossible...has to be some kind of crazy dream...a delusion brought on by exhaustion, too many hits to the head this week, he thought in disbelief.
Oh well. If this is just a dream, there's no reason I shouldn't go ahead and enjoy myself, is there?
That rationalization emboldened him a bit, allowed him to summon up some small amount of courage. Returning Ares' suggestive look with one of his own, he answered evenly, "I can handle anything. And some things I can...handle...quite well. So I've been told."
Ares raised an eyebrow and grinned slightly. "Is that so? Well, I'm going to need a demonstration before I believe you."
"If that's what you want..." Joxer trailed off, somehow finding the nerve to lift his hands from the sheets and onto the broad, leather-clad shoulders of the god sitting there before him. He wants to see what I can do? Well, there's one thing I know I'm good at. And I've had more than a few fantasies about doing this before... Taking a deep breath and trying to ignore the fact that this was a god he was about to do this to, not simply a (admittedly incredibly attractive) man, he leaned in, tilting his head slightly upwards to meet Ares' lips with his own.
Warmth spread from his mouth through his entire body as he made contact, as if he was somehow tasting even a soft echo of the god's incredible power. The full lips opened against his light pressure, inviting him to explore, to let his tongue savor the intoxicating taste and heat of the god's mouth. He lost any feelings of caution and reserve quickly, knowing his kiss was pleasing Ares as the god's hand drew Joxer tighter against his body. Ares stroked the back of Joxer's neck with his other hand, keeping the mortal's lips locked against his own.
"You use your mouth well, when it's not busy with talking," Ares complimented him when he finally allowed Joxer a breath of air. "Do that again."
As if Joxer needed any coaxing to continue. He raised his lips to the god's once again, tasting, savoring, meeting the god's darting tongue with his own until he was so breathless he felt as if he would pass out if he did not pause to try to regain his senses.
The god allowed him to explore elsewhere, Joxer's hands creeping under the open vest, caressing the softly-furred chest while his lips worked their way down Ares neck. His skin felt so wonderful, so smooth and taut over the perfectly defined muscles. It tasted just as perfect: spicy, lightly sweaty, even faintly reminiscent of leather, metal, blood. The taste of war, if there could be such a thing. It was incredible.
He smiled in satisfaction when he heard the god sigh as his fingers brushed against one small, stiff nipple and he pinched it lightly between his fingertips. He wondered if Ares was getting anywhere near as hard as he was, for he could barely stand the building ache between his legs already. Needing to find out, he slid one of his hands out from under the vest and down against Ares' crotch. He gasped, finding out not only was Ares' hard for him already, but bigger than he would have ever dreamed possible.
Ares chuckled at Joxer's obvious reaction of shock. "So, are you still certain you can handle that, Joxer?" the god taunted him.
To show he wasn't frightened, Joxer let his hand linger there, rubbing against the hard bulge, as he looked into Ares' eyes and promised, "Just watch me."
"I will." And with that, Ares laid back on the bed, pulling Joxer down with him. In the middle of another deep kiss, Joxer suddenly realized Ares' clothes were gone. They were pressed body to body, flesh to god-flesh, and he nearly came as soon as his cock caught up with his brain and realized what he was rubbing himself up against.
"Not yet..." Ares told him, breaking the kiss. "First you prove you're worth it." And the way he was pushing Joxer down towards his groin, Joxer knew just what Ares wanted from him.
"As you wish." Joxer crept his way down the beautiful body beneath him, licking, sucking, and nibbling his way down the broad chest, the tight, flat stomach, all the while feeling the rock hard, immense cock pressing against his body, closer and closer to his mouth. Ares could have forced him down on it any time he wished with those powerful hands of his, but he did nothing of the sort--until Joxer's tongue lit upon the tip, swirling around it and probing gently into the thin slit.
"Fuck...oh fuck yes..." Ares hissed, grabbing a fistful of the man's hair as Joxer continued tonguing his erection. Joxer had never seen such a magnificent cock before, as huge and intimidating and frighteningly lovely as the god to whom it belonged. He prayed he could give it the proper adoration and attention it deserved, as he wrapped his lips around the head, tongue lapping up the first drops of precum the god favored him with as if it were the purest honey. It tasted far sweeter to the mortal man's mouth.
He wanted it all. He wanted to feel the length of this incredible cock down his throat, and later buried in his ass...he just wanted to do anything that the god would want him to do. He began moving his mouth up and down the thick shaft, his hands fondling the silky balls and holding the cock in place for his careful ministrations. He knew Ares wanted more, and when he was ready he gave it to him. Relaxing his lips, his tongue, he began swallowing down the shaft, deeper...still deeper...he fought down the reflex to gag and only listened to the god's appreciative moans until he could take in no more.
"Oh, yesssssss..." Ares gasped, arching up against Joxer, practically pulling out the fistful of hair he was still grasping. Joxer winced in pain but did not move, and moments later he felt the god's body convulse in an orgasmic fury. He could have sworn it felt as if the entire room reverberated and trembled all around them. He pulled back slightly as the god came, only so that he could taste Ares' cream as it shot into his mouth. He couldn't believe this was happening. He couldn't believe this was Ares' body he was being allowed to please, Ares' seed that he had just been allowed to imbibe. Let me do it again, he pleaded silently, lapping still at the softening cock for the last traces of Ares' essence. Again and again...Once wasn't nearly enough...
Ares pulled him up and kissed him roughly. "Damn you, mortal," the god sighed after the kiss. "No wonder you can't fight worth anything. You must spend all your time fucking to be that good at it."
Joxer smirked. "I guess the Gods had to give me something I was good at. Oh, no offense."
"None taken. Not after that."
Joxer shivered as Ares ran his hand slowly down his side. His own need for release was returning now that his attentions were not solely focused on pleasing the god.
Ares' hand eventually found Joxer's stiff cock. "Not bad for a mortal," the god complimented, as he stroked his hand up and back down the full length of the erection.
"Mmmm...oh....!" Joxer was unable to speak coherently, not with the god of war fondling him, kissing him, doing things to him he would never have dreamed asked for, nor even dare fantasize about.
Ares trailed kisses down the length of his neck and he remarked, "You know, you're far too pretty, and too good in bed, to really be a warrior. Perhaps I'll simply keep you as my concubine for the time being."
Joxer didn't care what Ares kept him for; if Ares wanted to keep him locked up in this room, chained naked to this bed for all of eternity, he would be quite happy with that fate.
His thoughts spun out of control when Ares pushed him onto his back and said, "Since you proved you're worth it," and with no further warning slid down the mattress and took Joxer's cock into his mouth. Joxer shuddered and glanced down with a gasp and the sight before him was nearly enough to come: Ares--the magnificent, incredible god of war--gazing back up at him, lips wrapped firmly around his erection.
Sweet Zeus, this can't be real...
I am dreaming, aren't I?
Oh, Gods, but no dream has ever felt this good...
But real life has never felt this good either...
Ares...Ares...don't stop don't ever stop no please...
Joxer opened his eyes and sat up with a start. He was still in the same bedchamber, but no one else was around. He didn't remember drifting asleep; he just remembered...oh, wow...what he remembered. He'd thought at the time he was simply dreaming--at least, he'd tried to convince himself of that instead of considering the alternative. But now he figured he was going to have to face facts.
He'd just had sex with the god of war.
He felt the heat rising to his cheeks as the recent events came back to him in more detail, sleepiness fading fast. Forget falling asleep--I must have completely blacked out! But who wouldn't after getting blown by Ares...
Speaking of whom, Joxer wondered where the god had disappeared to. Curious to find out, he got out of bed, not surprisingly finding his balance a little off-kilter--more so than usual, even with his injuries gone. He looked about the chamber for any evidence of his clothing, feeling a little too shy to go stumbling about buck naked when he had no idea what or whom he'd find outside this room. He couldn't locate his old ragged vest or trousers, but he noticed a carefully arranged set of clothing laid out on a chest near the bed. It didn't look like it was made to fit Ares, so he guessed it had been placed there for him. The black leather was of such fine quality he almost gasped when he touched it, it was so soft and smooth. The pants and the vest fit him perfectly, almost like a second skin.
As he finished dressing, lacing up his new boots, he was thinking, I know this is really happening, I just wish I knew why. What does Ares want with me? Well, I suppose that's actually sort of obvious, but I mean, what does he really want? Why me, why now? Was that a one-time thing or am I now his until he decides he's sick of me?
Well, he knew he wasn't going to get any answers just standing there. Besides, he decided, maybe I should stop worrying about why I'm here and simply let myself enjoy it. So one of the gods had decided use him as a diversion for a while. The gods didn't need any reason for the things that they did; all mortals knew that. And it wasn't like he hadn't had fun, too. He could worry about the consequences later.
Stepping through the open doorway, a short hallway led into spacious room, obviously the main living room. A fire burned brightly in the fireplace and a grand table took up much of the space. He found Ares sprawled lazily across a large chair at one end of the table. The god looked up as Joxer entered and commented, "So you finally came to. I was starting to wonder if you were going to sleep all day."
"Sorry. Guess I was really exhausted. So where are we, anyway? Is this Olympus?" Joxer jumped in with the first questions on his mind.
Ares snorted. "Hardly. This is just a sanctuary I keep for when I'm sick of dealing with everyone for a while. A small section of forest in the mountains I claimed for myself long ago. Very few know of it, and those who do know better than to disturb me when I'm here. Even we immortals need a place to get away from it all sometimes."
"Oh. Yeah, that makes sense." Joxer looked at the ample display of food on the table, inhaled the spicy odors, and his stomach rumbled in appreciation. It must have been some time since he had eaten, possibly a day at least since he'd had a substantial meal.
"Help yourself," Ares encouraged him, while idly picking at some small bowl of food at the end of the table where he sat. Joxer needed no further encouragement, not being able to remember the last time he'd seen so much food--everything from hot, roasted meats to exotic looking fruits and vegetables. He was starting to salivate in anticipation of the feast.
"Thank you." He grabbed a large bowl and filled it to the top, trying to sample a little of everything, knowing he'd be lucky to make it through half of what his eyes craved before his stomach would feel ready to burst.
Looking about for a place to sit, Ares beckoned him to share his own chair. Joxer settled comfortably into the god's lap, turning his head to him for a kiss to try to show how much he appreciated Ares' generosity. The god's tongue was like fire in his mouth and he nearly dropped his food all over the floor in shock of the strange feeling that passed through him at the kiss.
"What was..." Joxer started in surprise, wondering why his head was spinning so badly.
"I've been indulging a little before you came out," Ares explained, nodding towards a small bowl filled with a strange luminescent substance.
Ambrosia. The food of the gods. I just tasted ambrosia! Joxer realized with a shudder. What little essence of it had been left in Ares' mouth had made him feel like this?
"Not enough to give you anything more than a momentary high, lover," Ares explained to him, and then the bowl disappeared.
Still feeling a little buzzed from the trace of ambrosia, Joxer dove into his food. The meat was delicious, richly seasoned with wine and spices. Do the gods eat such wonderful meals all the time? He could barely imagine what it would be like to have such luxuries at his every whim. He surprised himself at how much he managed to pack away before he finally had to stop.
"Do you just wave a hand or something and all of this appears?" Joxer asked, leaning back in Ares' arms. He could feel the god's cock returning to life, pressing against his rear through their clothes. It was an indescribable thrill to know that reaction was due to him, of all people. I make Ares hard--my Gods, but that's a turn on! He also wondered with growing lust how it would feel to have that huge erection deep inside him, to be possessed by Ares completely.
"My servants prepare my meals. It's a waste of my energy to use it on something as mundane as food," he dismissed, proceeding then to start nibbling upon Joxer's neck, making him squirm as the hard teeth bruised his skin, only to be soothed by soft, wet lips. Joxer wanted to know where these servants actually were, among hundreds of other questions he had for the god, but they could wait for some other time, he supposed. Yes, definitely some other time.
Ares' hands ran roughly over his body while he continued kissing his way along Joxer's neck. Joxer shuddered as his new clothes suddenly disappeared, as did the god's. Ares' erection rubbed against his bare ass and he whimpered, half fearing the no-doubt imminent penetration and half desperate for it.
Ares pinched Joxer's nipples painfully, playing with them until Joxer was in a state somewhere between utter agony and pure Elysia. The god seemed to know how to give him exactly what he wanted, some things he'd never even known he'd want before. "Please..." Joxer begged, squirming and rubbing his ass against Ares' hardness. "Please, Ares..."
"Please what?" Ares asked him, biting down so hard on his neck Joxer yelped, knowing the god had drawn blood with the bite.
"Fuck me, please..." Joxer gasped. Ares pushed Joxer to his feet, cleared the table with a wave of his hand, and bent the mortal man over the side of it. Joxer shivered as Ares took position behind him, the slick, large head of the god's cock pressing against him, forcing its way inside him. Where the lubrication had come from Joxer didn't even pause to wonder about; the feeling of being filled and stretched so completely was too good, too painfully incredibly good to think about anything else.
"Ares..." he sighed in awe, eyes squeezed shut, fingers digging into the wood of the tabletop for support. This was far beyond anything he'd ever experienced before or dared imagine. He belonged to Ares, completely, utterly, without question from this day forth.
Ares let out a low growl of approval. "So hot...damn you, you're so hot..." he whispered harshly, reaching around to grasp Joxer's erection and beginning to work it with his hand in time with every thrust.
The combined stimulation was too much. Joxer teetered on the edge of climax so long, he was certain he was about to lose his mind. He'd felt ready to come as soon as the god had touched his cock and was convinced that Ares was doing something to him to keep him from climaxing, to make him last until the god was finished with him.
"Ares, I can't..." he begged, almost in tears as the erotic torture continued, "I have to come...I'm going to...feel like I'm going to die! Ares...!"
"You come when I say you can, mortal," Ares told him harshly, tightening his grip on Joxer's cock until the moan building in his throat turned into a scream. This was torture, pure and simple, and despite his protests a part of him never wanted it to stop...
"I can make you feel things...you never dreamed possible..." Ares promised him, while never pausing in his assault. "You proved yourself deserving of my attention earlier...now you learn your first lesson in obedience to me. Your pleasure is mine to grant, to measure...to deny if I say so. Do you understand?"
"Yes...ooooh, gods, yes...yessssss..." he hissed out, clenching his teeth.
And suddenly, he felt something snap inside him, blissful release enveloping his entire body for the most mind-blowing climax he'd ever known. A groan escaped Ares lips at nearly the same time, and completion came as Joxer felt the warmth of Ares' seed spilling into him.
Then it was over...The god lifted Joxer's limp body upright and back into the spacious chair, into his lap again. Joxer simply collapsed against Ares, shuddering, gasping for breath, feeling as if he did not even have the strength left to lift one finger without the god's help. He felt empty, no longer whole, with Ares no longer inside him. The god idly caressed his spent body, saying nothing except through his now gentle touch. Joxer wondered if Ares had felt this union with anywhere near the intensity he just had. Or was this simply the way it always was for the god?
"No, not always..." Ares answered his unvoiced question. "In fact, mortals rarely can satisfy me so well...nor can they usually handle what I can give them. You are more special than you realize, Joxer."
"You...can read my mind?" Joxer struggled to find the words, his mind still feeling clouded and unable to focus.
"When I care to. You are full of questions, aren't you? Don't like taking things as you see them. You always want to question, to poke, to prod, like an annoying little child who wants to know why the sky is blue, and how the stars hang in the heavens."
"Don't apologize. If more of my generals had such a questioning, curious mind...it was what made Xena such an incredible leader..." He sighed wistfully. "But enough of leaders and armies for now. I wonder what other talents you possess that I haven't yet seen, hmm?"
Joxer thought for a moment. He wasn't used to anyone discussing him and using the words "talents" and "special" in any way. "Nothing, really. Well..." he was almost embarrassed to mention it, certain it wasn't what the god of war was interested in, "I used to play the lyre, a little."
"My mother made me take lessons. But then my father found out and he said that warriors didn't waste their time on music."
A lyre appeared instantly in his lap. "Play for me," Ares ordered.
"B-but, I'm not that good," Joxer protested. "I only practice now and then..." Mostly when visiting Meg's place, he thought with a flush to his cheeks.
"I'll judge if you're any good or not."
Joxer knew better than to argue the point, so he picked up the instrument, trying to refamiliarize himself with the feel, trying to get his fingers working again when he was still recovering from the events of only a few minutes ago. "Um...okay. What do you want to hear?"
"Whatever you feel like playing," Ares encouraged, running his hands along Joxer's bare shoulders, the touch relaxing away his anxiousness. After working his fingers awkwardly through some chords and exercises, Joxer remembered an old melody he was always fond of. It was a song he'd practiced so much as a child that after the first few stumbled notes, his hands remembered the old patterns and he played without having to barely think about it. He'd always loved playing, even when he'd had to do so secretly so his father wouldn't hear it and become angry. This song transported him back in time to afternoons out in the fields near his home with his mother, where she'd take him on picnics when father was away and she'd ask him to play for her.
This song had been her favorite, a simple melody with no words. It needed none; the notes spoke well enough of love and tranquillity. Joxer played it, feeling those same emotions with an intensity he'd never known, and it came tumbling out of him, trying to express the way he felt now for Ares in a way he knew he could never put in words.
When he was finished, he felt self-conscious and uncertain if he'd just made a fool of himself with his amateur musical skills. "Like I said, I'm not that good..." he apologized automatically.
"You belittle yourself too much," Ares scolded. "And I believe you have perhaps sworn yourself to the wrong god. Your talents would be better appreciated and developed under Apollo than me."
Joxer turned to face the god of war, insisting, "But I want to serve you, Ares. I want to be a warrior."
"Are you so certain? There are other ways to serve me, as you should realize by now. You claim you want to be warrior, yet you've never even killed once, isn't that true?"
Joxer bit his lip to keep the instinctual denial from pouring forth. To anyone else, he would have dismissed the statement with boasts of his many bloody battles to the death. But to Ares, he knew it would be a wasted effort at best and potentially a fatal insult at worst.
"Ah, I was correct. Imagine that: A blood innocent lover for the god of war..." The lyre disappeared and Ares pulled Joxer against him, stroking his hair gently. "I sensed it about you. Don't be ashamed. It's one of the reasons you...appeal to me."
"Why?" Joxer asked, surprised.
Ares shrugged. "Why are virgins so enticing to mortal men? Innocence. The desire to take something that no one has taken before, and claim it for themselves. To perhaps experience something they lost long ago even if only vicariously.
"I haven't known what innocence has felt like in thousands of years, yet it radiates off of you. I don't know if I wish to treasure it and preserve it for always, as a reminder of what I have stolen from so many before..." He lifted Joxer's head with his hand, holding the mortal's enraptured gaze close to his own. "Or do I want to be there to share with you in the thrill of your first kill. To see blood seeping down from the hilt of your sword onto your hands. To share with you when you know what it feels like to steal the breath of life from another mortal for the first time."
"Whatever you would ask of me, I would do it," Joxer pledged.
"Yes. I know you would." Ares leaned in for a searing kiss, the hint of ambrosia still faintly on his tongue. Joxer tried to drink it in, the taste more than any mortal could resist. As far as he was concerned, he had found Elysia here in the dark God's arms and in his bed. Whether this lasted a day, a year, or eternity, it didn't matter.
...The Fates, apparently, had decreed it would last two seasons, from just before the Summer Solstice until not long before the Winter one. Joxer had in fact been spending the afternoon contemplating what kind of gift he could prepare for Ares on that approaching holiday when...well, he tried not to think about that day. The less he brought it to mind, the better.
Now he was stuck here, forever, to pay for the apparent crime of loving the wrong person. Wrong god. Whatever. He didn't think it was fair, but being with Ares as long as he had, he knew better than to try to understand the motives and logic of the gods.
Besides, Ares was going to get him out of here. He promised he would. As he tried to find comfort in the god's words, he struggled to ignore the voice in the back of his head, the one that sounded vaguely like Xena's, warning him never to believe any promises made by the god of war.