Title: Hercules Proof
Author: Susan Anthony (LdyGossamer@aol.com)
Pairing: Ares/Joxer, H/I implied
Archive: AJCS archive, my site at http://www.geocities.com/area51/keep/8613/artists.html, anyone else, just ask
Summary: Joxer inspires Ares in more ways than one.
Feedback: Very welcome.
Notes: This is just a fluffy bunny that wouldn't go away.
Disclaimer: The Boyz aren't mine. More's the pity. This story is for the pleasure of the readers only. I don't make a thing.
Joxer was searching for his God. He'd checked the throne room twice, the war room once and had even checked the ::grimace:: playroom/torture chamber (thankfully empty) once. The young man sighed and again cursed the enormity of Ares' Olympian Temple especially when he was trying to find a dinner companion to eat off of...er, to eat with.
With a resolved sigh, Joxer set off to search the entire Temple again. His god had to be around here somewhere. Fortunately, he checked the Throne room first before heading down to the lower levels because he found who he was seeking sprawled out lazily on his throne, staring avidly at a scrying glass floating in front of him.
Joxer's expression brightened and he was about to cross to his lover when he froze at the low, wicked sound floating across the Throne Room. Stronger and wiser men had quailed at the entrance to War's Hall when the god himself was chuckling like he was now.
After a moment, however, Joxer reassured himself that Ares seemed to be fond of him, had let him have the run of the entire Temple when he was here even though Joxer had continued to associate with ::shudder:: *heroes*. So, the God probably wouldn't do anything serious to him should he interrupt at an inopportune moment - which could be *any* moment, considering this was Ares. And, after all, it *had* been all day since Ares had left him whimpering in a well-loved and sated state in the War God's enormous bed.
Come to think of it, that just wasn't like Ares. When War brought his lover here, he usually occupied every moment of Joxer's time in many different entertaining and highly inventive ways. But this morning he'd merely driven Joxer out of his mind with his lovemaking and then left him alone to recover.
Trying to think if he'd done anything that might have offended Ares, Joxer chewed on his lower lip. The only thing he remembered was that he had made some offhanded, teasing comment about his lover bouncing back again and again for more and he, a puny little mortal, could barely keep up. Ares had lifted his head away from the pale neck he was currently nibbling, looked at him with a wide, dark expression and then laughed. After that, Joxer didn't remember much but he came back to reality with a wide grin and a stunning view of Ares' backside on the way out the door.
Now his lover lounged on his throne, chuckling. Ares laughing at all was worrisome. But Ares laughing twice in one day was a sign that Joxer should probably head home now.
"Stop loitering in the doorway and come here, Joxer," Ares suddenly commanded, turning to look at his lover with a wide grin. Joxer manfully suppressed the urge to run and forced himself across the hall to Ares' side.
"Hi Ares," he said, happy to see the god in spite of the fact that Ares was currently giving him the shivers. He couldn't help the yelp that spilled out as the God of War yanked him onto his lap and started to nibble on Joxer's neck. The man couldn't help but notice that though Ares attention *seemed* to be focused on his neck, the god was avidly watching the floating glass in front of him. The image seemed to be of one of Ares' temples with the usual coming and going of worshippers and priests.
"What are we watching?" Joxer asked as he leaned back into Ares' caresses.
"Hercules Baiting," the god answered absently. Joxer turned to look at him in dismay.
"What did you do?" he demanded flatly before he could censor his question into something more politically correct and less likely to get him blown apart. Ares merely gave him that wicked, delicious smile again.
"I turned Iolaus into a goat."
"Yes." Ares chuckled again; the dark overtones making Joxer want to chew his fingernails.
"But...Iolaus belongs to Aphrodite. Wouldn't she be mad if you messed with him?" he inquired carefully.
Ares just waved the objection away. "As if that would make a difference," he snorted. "Besides, I did speak with her first and she gave her whole-hearted support."
That was bad. Whatever Ares had said to Aphrodite to allow him to turn one of her favorites into a goat must have been something serious. Joxer chewed on his lower lip some more before he continued.
"But why would you *want* to do that? Hercules could just get some other god to turn Iolaus back," he pointed out reasonably.
"It's the timing that is important here. I changed Blondie into a goat right before he and Hercules were about to explore the intimate possibilities of their private bedchamber in Iphicles' palace."
Joxer's mouth dropped open. "You didn't!" he squeaked.
"Right before Iphicles and his closest Councilor went looking for them." Ares snickered. "And a king never has to knock, does he? Especially when he hears livestock in the bedchamber."
"ARES!" Joxer snapped, completely forgetting that his lover could blow him away with a thought.
"Don't lecture, Joxer," Ares warned, his dark eyes sliding to catch those of his lover.
"I'm *not*," Joxer snapped, crossing his arms and pouting. "But you could have at least let me watch!"
Ares stared at him for a moment before he grinned and then kissed his lover's pout away. "We'll go to the Hall of Time later and watch," he chuckled. "It was rather entertaining."
"Really?" Joxer asked, delighted at the thought of seeing that fabled place. And the opportunity to see Hercules *that* humiliated was never something to pass by. But then there was Iolaus. "Ummm, Ares? You turned Iolaus back didn't you? He's all right, isn't he?"
The god spared his lap warmer a momentary glance before he turned back to the mirror. "He is," came the low growl. "'Dite demanded it. And I know you like him." Ares turned his full, dark gaze on Joxer, one eyebrow slightly raised. "In a purely platonic sense, of course."
"Of course!" Joxer hastened to reply. "I would never...I mean, you're the only one...." The mortal ground to a halt under Ares' withering gaze. He dropped his eyes and took a deep breath. "It's just that he's the only one of the four of them who never seems to get angry with me. He always makes sure I'm all right even when maybe I wasn't exactly all that helpful."
Ares' hard expression softened slightly at Joxer's words though he looked away before the mortal could see it. Joxer sighed again as he scooted closer to his lover's chest and reached out to finger the gemstone amulet hanging around Ares' neck.
"Besides, I think Jett likes him," he finished softly.
The War God jerked in surprise. He stared at his lover like Joxer had sprouted blue horns. "Jett likes who?"
"Iolaus," his lover answered absently. Joxer caught his lower lip again as he thought about his elder sibling. "He would *never* say anything about it but I just get the feeling...and Jace kind of implied...." He glanced up at Ares with a hopeful look in his eyes. "Do you think Aphrodite might...you know...see if anything is there? Or maybe send Cupid? I mean I know Iolaus is a hero and everything but Jett deserves some happiness too and I *know* he would make Iolaus happy if he got the chance."
Ares passed his hand in front of his mouth, stroking his beard thoughtfully to hide the smirk that was threatening. "I don't know, Joxer," he finally was able to manage without a snicker. "Iolaus has this little problem with assassins."
Joxer looked completely crestfallen and his brown eyes dropped again with that annoying, pathetic, little sigh that *somehow* made Ares want to hold the mortal close and tell him it would turn out all right. Which, of course, made Ares want to question his own sanity.
"But who knows," he found himself saying. "I'll talk to 'Dite and see what she has to say," he promised his lover. "She may think it's a grand scheme." If she doesn't laugh me out of her temple, he thought heavily, wondering just why he agreed to do such a thing.
When Joxer smiled up at him, however, he remembered. Ah yes, Ares sighed as his lover kissed him thoroughly in thanks. And the match would have the added advantages of pissing off Hercules *and* Xena as Ares had seen her eyeing Jett herself the last time they had clashed.
He didn't even think about the fact that it would take the blond hunter out of Joxer's way and attention if Jett carried the man off.
The scream from the mirror caught both the War God and his lover by surprise and both looked up just in time to see the Temple doors slam open and a thoroughly pissed off demi-god storm into main hall.
Followed by a rather timid, blond goat.
Joxer turned to glare at him lover. Rolling his eyes, Ares, waved his hand at the glass and the goat immediately morphed back into a startled blond hunter. A naked, startled blond hunter. The man just stood there, stunned and confused.
Joxer started to chew on his lower lip, staring at the mirror in distress. Ares stifled a groan and waved his hand again. Iolaus was then standing in tight black leather, an outfit eerily reminiscent of Ares' own preferred clothing. Joxer gave an approving hum and relaxed against his lover.
"You know, that outfit looks really good on him," the man murmured. Ares' lip started to curl and his fingers began to twitch with little red bolts of power when his lover continued. "But after seeing it on you, I don't think anyone else could do it justice," Joxer sighed and cuddled deeper into Ares lap. "Though Jett would really appreciate the effort."
Ares made a mental note to be certain to speak with 'Dite about Joxer's brother. She did owe him several favors after all.
"ARES! SHOW YOURSELF!" Hercules demanded in a shout that echoed around the temple. By this time, the warriors that had previously been worshipping in the temple had prudently evacuated and the priests had all followed their orders from Ares and not hindered the demi-god in the slightest.
"Aren't you going to go down there?" Joxer asked quietly.
"Why?" Ares replied his gaze glued to the glass.
Why? Joxer looked at the god worriedly. "Because, he'll wreck your temple otherwise?" he asked.
Ares gave him another deadly grin. "Exactly," he said softly.
"ARES!!!" the hero thundered as he glared expectantly at the empty throne across the hall. "Show yourself NOW!"
When the temple remained echoingly empty, Hercules roared and then stamped forward to flip over a large console holding several small, valuable glass offerings, which had been laid there - at Ares command - by his priests. The table crashing over made a stunning sound on its own but the breaking glass echoed though the hall, bringing a smile to Hercules' face.
Until the table bounced upright with all the glass ornaments completely intact and perfect again.
Joxer's eyes widened before he slowly turned to his lover, a grin growing in his face. "You didn't."
Ares leaned forward to give his mortal a short, hot kiss. "I did," he chuckled wickedly.
Hercules stared at the table, almost bewildered, before he jumped forward and pushed it over again with another satisfying crash and rumble. He stared at it a long moment, almost daring it to move. The table just lay there. It didn't make a move and the hero nodded smugly as he turned to push over some intricately carved urns decorating either side of the temple doorway. The moment the hero turned his back, however, the table and all its contents righted itself without a sound even as the heavy crash of the urns filled the temple.
Hercules was chuckling happily, dusting off his hands and preparing for more destruction when he noticed the console, upright and perfect again. He growled and determinedly stalked towards it. He didn't even notice as the two urns righted themselves and settled cheekily back into their spots beside the doorway.
Iolaus, watching from his spot next to the door, actually smirked.
Ares' saw the blond hunter's smirk and leaned back almost thoughtfully as he absently stroked his lover's hair. Perhaps a match between Iolaus and Jett wasn't entirely impossible.
With a mighty heave and a manly screech, Hercules picked up the heavy table and flung it across the hall. It crashed into a rack of elaborate weaponry. The noise that followed was enormous and the hero glared at the pile of wood and weaponry and the trail of broken glass ornaments that lead across the hall. He continued glaring to make certain the damn table didn't pull itself together again.
"Ummm, Herc?" Iolaus called from his place near the doors. The hero glanced over at his companion and finally noticed the outfit. A rather feral smile lit the hero's features at the black leather. At least it did until the hunter drew his friend's attention to the fact that there were two whole and undamaged urns beside the doorway.
With a growl and an unholy gleam in his eyes, the hero made for the door and the idiotic urns that had dared to become whole again. Iolaus watched, his eyes laughing, as the table righted itself again and silently scuttled across the temple hall while the rack of weapons jerked up and settled against the wall, shining and whole.
*Lord Ares,* came the hunter's sudden prayer to the War God's amazed ears. *Thank you SO much for letting me witness this! It was worth being turned into a goat.*
Ares' mouth dropped open and Joxer noticed his stunned expression.
"What?" the mortal asked his god nervously. Stunned just wasn't the look for the God of War.
"Iolaus just prayed to me," Ares replied with an astonished laugh. "He said thank you for letting him see this even if he did get turned into a goat."
Joxer laughed before he turned back to the scrying mirror where Hercules was screaming with anger after noticing the table had once again corrected itself.
"I have *got* to get Iolaus together with Jett," the mortal said with delight.
Hercules stalked over to the table and picked it up again, throwing it vehemently against a large, ten-foot statue of Ares, which dominated the far corner of the Temple. The table was thrown with such force that it pulverized the head of the statue and the body toppled over with a resounded THUD.
"HEY!" Joxer yelled as he sat straight up and glared at the hero in the mirror. Ares looked at him curiously. "That was my favorite statue of you since I was five years old!" he explained heatedly to his god.
"Don't worry," Ares said with a pleased smile at his lover. He pulled the man closer and murmured in his ear. "Just watch."
"Try to fix THAT, Ares!" Hercules jeered as Iolaus peered across the hall.
There was silence for a long moment before the console pulled itself together yet again. Then it stood straight up and stomped almost angrily across the hall, followed by its contents of broken glass ornaments swirling madly through the air and fitting themselves back into their original shapes.
The wooden table huffed by the stunned hero and slammed itself back down where it had been before as the ornaments settled themselves gingerly on its top. The wooden table was practically quivering with anger and daring the hero to so much as touch it again.
Meanwhile, the statue that Joxer favored so much quietly rose and fitted itself together again, as perfect as it was before except that its face bore a far more smug expression.
Hercules, however, didn't notice the statue. He stared at the table with bright, angry eyes, snorting and growling as he ground his teeth together and curled his hands into fists.
Curiously, Iolaus wandered over to the table and cautiously touched the wooden top. The table stopped its quivering almost with a sigh. The hunter glanced up at his sometime lover before he picked up a large, rather ugly glass sword. Almost negligently, he tossed the thing into the middle of the hall where it shattered and then lay still.
Hercules waited expectantly, his arms crossed, his teeth grinding. Nothing happened. The glass sword remained shattered. Iolaus started to look worried when he realized the thing wasn't going to reassemble itself and he'd just broken an offering to the God of War. Hercules just looked more pissed.
The demi-god stalked over to the table and pushed his friend aside roughly. Iolaus gave the hero a scowl as Hercules started tossing one glass bauble after the other towards the stone floor. After the third or fourth crash, the pieces started pulling themselves together again and vaulting back to the tabletop. A few impudent pieces actually bopped the hero on the head before they settled back onto the table again with satisfied rattles.
"Stop laughing at me," the hero hissed at the glass as he leaned over the table, his eyes growing fever bright. "I'm not leaving here until you're all in splinters. SPLINTERS do you hear!"
Iolaus' eyes widened, his smirk falling away to be replaced by a wary expression. He slowly began to back away as Hercules screamed out a battle cry and attacked the defenseless furniture. There were shrieks and thumps and shattered noises echoing throughout the hall as the Golden Hunter headed for the door. He thought it might be a good idea to fetch Iphicles.
Perhaps half an hour later, Iolaus returned to the Temple of the War God accompanied by the King of Corinth and his guards. There were howls of rage coming from the War Temple and a crowd had gathered outside in a wide circle before the stone steps leading into the darkened hall.
Iphicles looked at Iolaus who was (quite delectably, Iphicles thought) worrying on his lower lip as he stared at Ares' Temple. Shaking his head at the things Hercules made them put up with, the king dismounted from his horse and moved towards the steps.
He stopped immediately at the insane howl of rage that erupted just inside the door followed by the wide graceful arch of a heavy, carved urn as it toppled through the air and shattered in the stone steps.
There was a moment's expectant silence on the part of the gathered crowd before the pieces of the broken urn shivered and erupted from the steps, assembled itself and then flung itself back into the Temple. An inarticulate shriek of rage followed its entrance.
Iphicles stared before he stepped back down to the street and motioned his men to move the populace back.
"Perhaps we should wait a bit," he said quietly. "Hercules seems to be communing heavily with Ares. Let us not interrupt."
"Right," Iolaus agreed. "He's gone nuts."
Perhaps three hours later, Iphicles felt it safe to attempt to enter the Temple simply because nothing had come hurtling out in the past few minutes. Cautiously, he ascended the steps followed by Iolaus and several guardsmen. With more than a little trepidation, the King of Corinth entered the temple of the War God...and found everything perfectly in place. Except for a single shattered pile of glass in the center of the floor.
The only other thing out of place was the muttering hero seated cross-legged on an enormous table, idly tossing glass ornaments onto the stone floor. Each bauble would shatter into crystal pieces, reassemble itself and shoot through the air to settle back onto the tabletop with a loud clink.
"Splinters, do you hear? Pieces. Not leaving 'til you're broken and stay broken," the hero was mumbling and growling, staring at each item as it shattered and then came back together. His eyes gleamed brightly and the Golden Hunter wondered if Mania weren't somewhere close by, inspiring the Hero to madness.
Iphicles and Iolaus just stared for a long moment before the King of Corinth cleared his throat. He turned to the closest soldier and gestured him closer.
"Would you please fetch a few healers from Lord Apollo's Temple please?" he asked quietly. "I think we're going to need some divine help for Hercules."
The soldier just nodded, his wide-eyed gaze focused on the still-muttering hero.
"Now would be a good time," Iphicles stated firmly and the man stumbled away. The king sighed and turned back to his brother. "Can't you two ever visit Corinth without causing trouble?" he asked Iolaus in a weary tone. The Golden Hunter looked contrite and then shrugged. "Can you at least tell me what happened?"
A wave of embarrassed red crested across the blonde's face before he glared briefly at the smug-looking statue of Ares dominating the corner of the Temple.
"It started this morning when Ares turned me into a goat," he began.
"That was you?" Iphicles asked in a high voice as he blinked at the smaller man for a moment. At Iolaus' nod, he rubbed his forehead. The king of Corinth felt a headache coming on.
On Olympus, Joxer and Ares were still snickering, having spent the last hours being highly entertained. When Iolaus started explaining what he knew had happened, Joxer maneuvered himself around so he was straddling his chosen deity. He looked up into Ares' dark eyes and grinned.
"Lord Zeus is going to be unhappy with you," he noted. "I think you broke Hercules."
Ares just smirked.
"I didn't do a thing to the hero," he stated calmly. "I just made a few adjustments to my Temple." The War God gave his lover a wide smile as he ran the palm of his callused hand up Joxer's leather-encased legs. "I believe Aphrodite was going to do something similar to her Temples and recommend the same to her husband and son."
"You made it Hercules Proof," Joxer snickered before he leaned forward and kissed Ares soundly. "You're a bad, bad deity."
"And you love me for it," Ares noted arrogantly. Joxer just ran his fingertips along his lover's lips.
"Maybe that's *one* of the reasons," the man said just before he grinned wickedly and reached down to explore some of the other reasons. "There are lots of them."