AresJoxerCupidStrife - Joint Effort Fiction


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16 Part 17 Part 18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part 25 Part 26 Part 27

Title:  Opposites Attract
Author:  Christine and Hergerbabe
Fandom:  Xena/Hercules
Pairing:  A/J and C/S
Rating:  [NC17]

Archive:  AJCS, RCOS and JLA.  Anyone else, please ask our permission first.

Disclaimer:  Unfortunately, the boys don't belong to us.  Although, we have stayed up many a night discussing what we would love to do to them if they were.  We are just borrowing them for our own demented pleasures and promise to return them relatively unscathed.

Feedback:  Please do.  We'd love to know what ya'll thought of this. 

Author's Note:  1.  Just so you guys know.  The Cupid/Strife plot line was thought up by Christine and the Ares/Joxer plot line was thought up by Hergerbabe.  Everything else in between was a joint effort.
2.  This is an alternate universe to the alternate universe we saw in 'Stranger and Stranger' and the other alternate universe episode, which eludes us at this time. (Try saying that three times fast.)

Warnings:  There is one rape scene in this story, some major and minor violence, and a whole shit load of angst.  If this type of stuff doesn't float your boat, please hit the delete key and be on your way.  Just remember, we *did* warn you.

Acknowledgements:  We wish to thank Kris for beta reading this for us.  Thank you, Kris!!

Summary:  What happens when you love someone who doesn't love you back? 


'Opposites Attract'


"Hey Cupe, how you doing today?"

Cupid growled in annoyance, and swung round. How many times was he going to have to say it?  "Strife, would you fuck off?!" he snarled.

Strife's grin faltered slightly. "Ah, c'mon Cupe, you don't really mean that. 'Sides, it's my job and Unc said…"

"My father can go to Hephaestus! I don't *do* happy!" Cupid snapped.

"Aw, c'mon, yes you do. Everyone needs a little happiness in their life. Bliss makes you happy, doesn't he?" Strife bounced over to the stiff War God.

Cupid allowed himself a brief, indulgent moment of happiness thinking of his son. Strife caught the emotion and smiled to himself. He knew Cupid was capable of nicer emotions than the range of anger and hate he usually showed.

Cupid saw the smile and scowled. Gods damn the little pussy anyway! He gripped Strife by the throat suddenly and lifted him up, bringing him face to face.

"Listen to me, and listen to me good, boy! You come here one more time spouting off about happiness and la-di-da, and I will rip off your balls and feed them to you fried and thinly sliced, got it?!"

Strife nodded, the mixture of Cupid's closeness and not being able to breathe was doing strange things to his already enthusiastic libido.

Cupid threw him across the room. "Good, now get out!"

Strife's eyes blurred with tears and he flashed out before Cupid could really hurt him, well physically anyway.

Cupid breathed a sigh of relief. Finally a day free from his bouncy, excitable, perpetually smiling, dweebo, *happy* cousin. He shuddered. He'd done happiness once, what had it got him? A cheating bitch from Tartarus! At least she'd been too selfish to keep a kid and left Bliss with him.

He snarled and flashed away to join his latest war.

@>*~

Strife reappeared in his uncle's lap.

"Hey Strifey," Ares grinned, "You're back early."

Strife's chin trembled, "He doesn't want me." He started to sob.

Ares was torn between wanting to comfort and reassure his nephew and not wanting to get snot and tears on his latest outfit. In the end, his soft heart won and he held Strife close.

"'Course he does, but you know what he's like. Psycho hurt him. I knew that match would never work! He needs someone softer, who'll look after him. Someone he can get all protective over. You!" Ares grinned. It was perfect. Couldn't possibly fail.

"But he said I couldn't even go over there anymore," Strife whispered.

Ares resisted the urge to frown thoughtfully; he didn't want to wrinkle. "No, it's still okay. Give him a chance to miss you being around."

Strife smiled, "Really?"

"Yep. Now go wash your face, you look totally grody," Ares shuddered.

Strife sighed happily; he couldn't stay miserable for long. "Yes, Unc, later."

@>*~

A few minutes later, Eris appeared in a flash of golden sparkles and rose petals.  Hands on her hips, she glared as menacingly as was possible for a Goddess of Love at Ares.

Ares glanced over at his twin. "Hey, Eris.  Like, what's wrong?"

"What's wrong?  What's wrong!?  I'll tell you what's wrong!  I just felt my baby's heart break, *that's* what's wrong!" Eris yelled. 

Feeling wrinkles begin to form around her features, she eeped and produced a mirror. "Damn it, Ares!  Now I have to reapply my makeup!" Eris then produced a large bag of cosmetics and began preening over herself.

Ares looked on in bemusement. "Ya know, sis.  If you put any more makeup on you might as well join a carnival," Ares giggled at his sister.

"Ha, ha.  At least *I* don't go around asking everyone I meet if my butt looks big."

Ares threw Eris a dirty look.

Eris just smirked and stuck out her tongue.

"Anyway," Ares began, rolling his eyes at his sister's childish behavior. "You know Strifey doesn't stay upset for long.  I held him close and told him everything would be all right.  He agreed and left his usual chipper self."

Eris put down the lipstick she had been holding up to her lips and eyed her brother. "What was it this time?  A major wedgie from Deimos?  Or did our dear deranged brother the Sovereign, tell him to take his 'happy ass' back home?"

"None of the above.  He went over to Cupie's and..."

"What!?" Eris interrupted, shrieking. 

Ares quickly flashed out of his chair and reappeared next to a beautiful statuette in his likeness, catching it before it shattered on to the pristine marble floor of his temple.  Placing it carefully back onto its pedestal, Ares turned around and glared angrily at Eris. "Do ya mind?  You almost broke it!"

Ignoring the pout forming on Ares' lips, Eris began pacing while gesturing wildly with her hands. "Ar, are you crazy?  Cupid is *so* not right for my baby.  Why on earth would you even think so?"

Ares managed not to frown, but pulled off a reasonable glare. "Excuse me.  Like, *senior* love deity here, I *do* know what I'm doing.  And in case you hadn't noticed, your son has a major thing for the big bad!"

Eris snorted in a very unladylike manner, drawing a raised eyebrow from her brother. "But…" she started.

"Oh come on, sis. Strife is perfect for Cupid. Just imagine if we could pull it off…Cupid happy and in love?!" Ares smirked.

A slow smile formed on Eris' face. "Oh, I see where you're going." Then she pouted, "But why my baby?"

Ares rolled his eyes and started to speak very slowly as if to a very small child. "Because, Cupid needs someone soft and loving and Strife needs someone who'll take care of him. See? Perfect." Ares raised an eyebrow until Eris finally nodded. "Good, now help me think of a reason to send Strife over there."

Eris nodded again, but she wasn't happy. In fact, she *would* get her brother back for this!

@>*~

Cupid was angry. No, no that was too mild a word for what he was feeling. Furious, closer, but no cigar. "Argh!" he yelled and blasted a few statues in sheer frustration.

Yes, the war had gone as planned, yes, he'd been up to his eyeballs in blood. Yes, he'd even kicked some Sovereign butt. But all day, all *fucking* day, he'd kept turning to Strife to smirk, shout or just outright laugh at the sissy's nauseous expressions, but of course Strife hadn't been there.

Just when, *exactly*, had he gotten used to having Strife being around?! Cupid snarled and flung himself onto his throne. Damn the little bitch to Tartarus!

@>*~

Strife stared at his uncle in shock. "You want me to what?"

Ares hid a smirk, "Just go. It's Cupid, why are you hanging around?!"

"Oh right, yeah," Strife beamed happily. He took a deep breath and adjusted his pants so the perpetual erection he had around Cupid wouldn't be obvious. Then he flashed out of the room.

Ares met Eris' worried gaze; "He'll be fine."

"Yeah, sure."

@>*~

Cupid looked up at the flash and growled as the object of his annoyance appeared. "I thought I told you," he started, pushing himself to his feet and stalking towards Strife. Strife blanched and started to back away. "To get lost!"

"Yeah, but I, I…" Strife stuttered.

"Do you have a death wish?" Cupid stared at his cousin, frowning.

"No, it's just Unc," Strife stopped at the look on Cupid's face.

Cupid snarled and flicked his wrist. Strife found himself chained to the wall. Cupid strode up to him and gripped his chin, slamming his head back against the wall.

"What is it, huh?" Cupid growled, "Why this need to piss me off, because believe me, Strife, you wouldn't enjoy it if you *really* pissed me off!"

Strife swallowed hard as Cupid leaned forward, pressing against him. He tried to pull back, but hit the wall. His erection got painful with Cupid's closeness and he gasped when his cousin finally brushed against it.

Cupid's eyes widened for a split second. Then he smiled cruelly. "Ya want to fuck, huh?" he whispered into Strife's ear. "You got it, bitch!" He took Strife's mouth in a viciously bruising kiss, ripping a gash on his lip. Strife screamed into his mouth and Cupid smiled. He pulled back and licked the blood from his lips.

Staring at Strife, he absently wiped the blood from his cousin's chin, licking it from his fingers as he contemplated what he wanted to do to the sissy boy.

Strife held back a whimper and tried not to lick his lip as he watched Cupid in fearful anticipation. He'd never seen Cupid so angry, so dangerous. So hot! He gulped in terror at the sudden cruel leer on Cupid's face.

Cupid snapped his fingers and Strife found himself chained down over Cupid's altar, spread eagled and bare-ass naked. He couldn't hold back a terrified sob.

Cupid smirked, and his clothes vanished as he walked round the altar to face Strife. His cock was hard enough to cut diamonds and he couldn't wait to see what Strife could do with that mouth.

After stroking himself a couple of times, he forced Strife's mouth open and shoved his cock all the way inside. Strife gagged and froze. Cupid gripped his hair tightly in annoyance.

"Get sucking, bitch! And if I feel your teeth on my cock, I will *rip* your jaw from your mouth!"

Strife whimpered in fear and pain as Cupid's cock stretched his torn lip and bruised the back of his throat. He carefully wrapped his lips around his teeth and started to suck and swallow before Cupid got mad again.

Cupid fucked Strife's mouth hard. Damn, the slut was good! He bit back praise and pulled out. He walked back round the altar and stood behind Strife.

He gripped Strife's hips punishingly hard.

"You better hope you sucked me good, bitch, cos it's all the lube you're gonna get!" Cupid then rammed his cock into Strife's ass in one rough, hard stroke.

Strife screamed as he felt ripped in two, his entire body stiffened and arched from the pain, overwhelming him until a jolt of pleasure hit him. He flopped limply against the altar, sobbing as Cupid pulled back and began to fuck him ruthlessly hard and fast.

"Yeah, take it, bitch," Cupid snarled. The tight, gripping heat of Strife's ass had almost made him come with his first stroke. He changed angle and Strife screamed again. Cupid smirked.

Strife was sobbing hard, but from the pain and humiliation or the incredible pleasure, he wasn't sure. Cupid was torturing him twice over by deliberately stimulating his pleasure spot. He couldn't help crying out.

His ass was burning, but it almost felt good, and still Cupid rammed into him, if it was possible, even harder.

Cupid was close, he could feel it. He hadn't expected it to feel so good, the battle of emotions he could feel from Strife turning him on even more. With a shout, he came hard.

As soon as the shudders stopped, he pulled out unceremoniously. With a cruel smile he watched his cum, stained pink with blood, start to trickle out of Strife's ass. He snapped his fingers to dress himself and unlocked Strife. He slapped his cousin nonchalantly on the ass, causing a hiss of pain.

"You can go now."

Strife lay there for a second. He hurt so badly, but he still had a massive erection. He should have known better, he should never have come back. He pulled together enough strength to dress himself and pushed himself off the altar.

With tears in his eyes, he stared at Cupid's back. "Unc said to say he's happy babysitting Bliss," he whispered before he vanished.

Cupid stiffened, then closed his eyes trying to shake off the odd feeling of defeat.

@>*~

Strife reappeared without thinking in the Love Temple.

"You've been gone awhile," Ares looked up. "Strife? What is it?"

Strife blinked, "Nothing."

Eris entered the room and hurried over. "Strifey, sweetie, what happened? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Mom," Strife sighed. "I'm going to lay down for a while." He flashed away to his room.

"Yeah, great idea, Ares!" Eris glared at her brother, who flinched.

@>*~

Strife stood in his room staring blankly at nothing. Then he carefully walked over to his mirror and flashed his clothes away. He stared at his pale, thin body. His lips were bruised and the gash was only just starting to heal. His throat was raw from Cupid's cock and from screaming.

His chest was covered in scrapes from the rough altar. He could see finger shaped bruises on his hips, each ending in a small, crescent shaped cut from nails digging into his skin. And he was hard. He was *still* hard.

Reaching behind him he wiped his ass, then stared at the bloodstained cum. He spread it over his cock and took a loose grip, stroking slowly. His knees buckled and he burst into tears as the memory of Cupid fucking him made him come harder than he ever had before.

He fell asleep, sprawled naked on the floor covered in tears, snot, cum and blood.

@>*~

The next day, Strife awoke to find himself still laying on the cold floor.  Sitting up, he winced as the pain in his ass reminded him of how he got there in the first place.  Still too sore, he decided to forego his daily bathing and opted to think himself neat and presentable.

He stood up stiffly and moved to stand once again in front of his mirror.  Most of the bruising around his mouth had healed and the gash on his lips was almost totally gone. Sighing in somewhat relief, he flashed out of his room and reappeared in his uncle's breakfast room.

Ares and his mom were already seated at the table, enjoying a rather healthy helping of his grandmother's sweetcakes.  Strife had been a bit surprised the first time he tried her sweetcakes.  What with her being Goddess of the Seas, Strife thought they would taste like fish.  But when he had timidly bit into one, he was pleasantly surprised to find out they didn't taste a thing like fish.

Sensing her baby in the room, Eris looked up from her plate. "Morning, Sweetie!  Have a seat and dig in."

Strife warily eyed the chair before pulling it out and sitting down.  Wincing with discomfort, he nonchalantly materialized a cushion under is still sore butt.

Daintily picking at his sweetcake so as not to get any crumbs on his impeccably perfect outfit, Ares chewed thoughtfully before turning his attention onto his nephew.  "So, how'd it go at Cupie's last night?"

Strife froze and put down the portion of food he had been about to eat. "Fine."

Ares stared at him for a moment, trying to put a finger on why Strife seemed different this morning. "Are you sure?" Eris added her inquiring stare to her brother's.

Strife took a deep breath, for a split second debating the possibility of breaking down in tears and telling his beloved family what had happened. Then he dismissed it from his mind, he just couldn't. Cupid was everything to him, even if he was nothing to Cupid. He plastered a grin onto his face and forced himself to meet his uncle's eyes.

"Yeah course. He was his usual self, so it took me a while to give him the message, but it was fine."

Ares nodded, "Oh, okay. What did he say?"

"Nothing," Strife replied with an only slightly strained chuckle.

Ares tsked, how typical of his son. Offer to do him a favour, and the most you'd be likely to get was a grunt!

Eris wasn't sure, but she had a feeling her sweet, innocent baby was lying to her. Before she could voice her feelings, a flash of golden sparkles interrupted her.

Seeing whom it was, Eris shook her head and sighed.

"Hiya, Pops!" Deimos cheerfully said as he walked up to Ares and gave him a kiss on his cheek.

Ares beamed. He just *loved* his children. All thirty-something of them.  Well, except maybe Xena. Poor thing. Her mother must have dropped her one too many times on her head as a child. Ares never could comprehend the fact that Xena was an evil, manipulating man-eater and part-time slut puppy to his brother, her uncle, the Sovereign.

A shame really.

Ares was brought out of his thoughts and back to his beloved family once more when he heard Eris laugh.

"So, what do you say, Aunt Eris?  Want to come to one of my infamous orgies? You could be the honored 'guest'," Deimos said, wiggling his eyebrows seductively at his aunt.

Eris laughed. "Not in a million years, Deimos."

Deimos pouted. "You don't know what you're missing."

"Yes, I know. And I'd like to keep it that way."

"Suit yourself," Deimos sighed.  Turning his attention towards his cousin, Deimos raised an eyebrow. "Strife, my man. What have you been up to recently?"

Strife jumped, startled. His thoughts had been focused on Cupid so had missed most of what had been said.  "Sorry, what?"

"What's up, dude?" Deimos smirked at his cousin, "Not gettin' any?"

Strife had to force himself to remain where he was and smile. "Ha!" he chuckled.

"Cos I was just thinkin'," Deimos continued with a leer. "Maybe you'd like to, ya know, like, join me an' Phob sometime?"

Strife forced himself to laugh, "No chance!" The thought of sex with anyone, except, ironically enough, Cupid; made him feel ill. He pushed his food away, he definitely couldn't face eating after the previous night and his throat was still sore anyway.

"Well," Strife looked up and grinned, firmly pushing the 'incident' with Cupid from his mind, "People to do, things to see."

Deimos and Phobos stared blankly at him for a second, then glanced at each other and cracked up.

"Good one, Cuz!" Deimos giggled, "You *sure* you don't want to 'do' me?"

Strife laughed, "Very!"

Deimos pouted, "Humph, come on Phob, we're not gonna get a fuck here."

Ares smiled indulgently at his sons, "Go forth, but don't multiply, eh boys?" They grinned at their father and flashed out snickering. Strife kissed his mother's proffered cheek and followed.

"Well, see now? I told you not to worry," Ares raised an eyebrow at his sister.

"We'll see," Eris replied quietly. She had her plans for her brother to think about.

@>*~

Cupid had not slept well, and that pissed him off. He was so *not* going to feel guilty for punishing his cousin. Yes, he had had a valid reason for being there, but it didn't alter the fact that Cupid had quite clearly told Strife to stay away from him or suffer the consequences.

And it had felt *so* good to punish him.

Cupid sat and stared at his map, not quite able to ignore the hollow feeling inside him. Scowling, he started several tavern brawls just with his bad mood.

@>*~

As God of Happiness and Joy, Strife found it hard not to be happy, even under the circumstances. He found that if he kept Cupid out of his conscious thoughts, he could carry on quite adequately and his job brought him so much joy.

But after a couple of weeks, when he started to feel sick, he started to worry that maybe repressing it all wasn't good for his health. After losing his breakfast for the fourth day in a row, he finally decided to check himself out before making any decisions about talking to someone.

He sat down in front of his mirror staring at himself. He'd done a good job of avoiding Cupid. In fact, he suspected Cupid might be avoiding him too. Sighing, Strife realized he was avoiding the inevitable and closed his eyes, concentrating on his body.

He frowned suddenly and searched deeper. He flew to his feet, knocking his chair back and opened his eyes, staring at himself in horror.

"No, no, no," he muttered in a panic, "I can't be."

He put his hand on his stomach and concentrated again. There was no denying the tiny spark of life he felt there.

"Oh shit!" he whispered, dropping to his knees. What in Hephaestus' name was he going to do now?

@>*~

Eris was seated in front of her vanity, contemplating the perfect way to get back at Ares.  She knew he meant well, but *not* at the expense of her little one!  Picking up her brush, she began to brush her hair as she randomly went through ideas of how to go through with her little revenge plan.

"I could say his butt *does* look big in everything he wears?"  She shook her head at that. "Nah, he'd never believe me if I were to say so."  She continued with her brushing until a thought suddenly leapt up at her and waived excitedly. "I've got it! Oh, but first I have to look into his heart to see if it will work or not."

With that thought in mind, Eris put the brush down and prepared for bed.

@>*~

Strife was rocking back and forth in sorrow. Not only had Cupid told him, in not so many words, that he hated his guts, but he had brutally raped him.  Course, in a sick and twisted sort of way, Strife had actually enjoyed it.  He just couldn't help it, he *loved* Cupid with all his heart and soul.

And now, *now*, he was pregnant with Cupid's child.  He knew for a fact that the child was Cupid's because after it happened, Strife hadn't been with any one else.  But the down side to this was that Strife had no idea whatsoever what Cupid would do or say to him if he ever found out.

Tears began to roll down his face at this sudden realization.  Strife desperately wanted to tell someone, but whom?  He was sure his mother would tear Cupid a new asshole, Goddess of Love or not. He wasn't sure what Ares would do though. His uncle was too soft and kind hearted to really do anything except feel sorry for him. And he couldn't trust any of his other family members to keep this from Cupid.

The only thing he could do was hide it from everyone. But how? 

His mind was made up for him when someone suddenly knocked on his door.  He jumped up, wiped at his eyes, taking a quick look in his mirror to be sure his eyes weren't red and placed an extremely powerful glamour over himself.  He made sure to make it mild enough so as not to raise any undo suspicion onto himself.

"Come in," he called out.

Ares hesitantly opened the door at the summons.  Walking in, he found Strife standing just in front of him.  When he sensed the glamour surrounding Strife, he crinkled his eyebrows together.  "What's with the glamour, Strife?"

"Just thought I'd get some practice in, Unc.  It's nothing really."

"Oh, okay," Ares replied, instantly dismissing it from his mind.

"What do you want, Unc?" Strife asked.

"Hmm? Oh yeah," Ares grinned. "I've got a job for you."

Strife raised an eyebrow. "Oh really? I wonder what?" he said sarcastically.

Ares pouted, "Oh c'mon, he's had a really rough week."

Strife smiled softly, "I know. Don't worry Unc, I'll give him some joy. I always do, don't I?"

Ares smiled gratefully, blinking away tears, "Thank you, Strife."

"You know, you should just tell him." Strife felt like a hypocrite, after all, he'd never told Cupid how he felt, but then his uncle was less likely to be killed for his feelings. He looked away from his uncle, not wanting the Love God to see the pain in his eyes.

Ares shrugged nonchalantly, "Tell him what?"

Strife sighed and shook his head, "Never mind."

"Thanks, Strifey," Ares beamed and kissed his nephew's cheek. Strife rolled his eyes and flashed away to do his job. Ares sighed and flashed away to his throne to think about Strife. He hadn't quite been the same since he'd gone to visit Cupid a couple of weeks before.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an armful of giggling Love Goddess. "Eris?" Ares asked in surprise.

"'Lo, Bro," she grinned. "What're you up to?" Sneakily, she slipped one hand under his leather vest and put her palm over his heart.

"Hey, that tickles!" Ares exclaimed. Without warning, Eris squealed excitedly and snapped a manacle on his wrist. "What, what? Eris?" Ares panicked as he felt the block to his powers. He pawed at the manacle frantically.

"Sorry, Bro.  Morpheus metal, only I can take it off," Eris smirked.

"But, but why?" Ares stared at his sister in stunned betrayal.

"Hush now, Brother," Eris smiled and touched his face.

@>*~

Strife watched the object of his mission with some curiosity. He looked like a bit of a nerd, but he handled himself damn well. He certainly looked good; all that leather was pretty yummy. He supposed he could see what his Unc saw in him.

Strife scoped out the tavern looking for a suitable wench to give Joxer a good night when an unconscious Ares suddenly dropped into Joxer's lap.

"Unc?" Strife started to step forward.

"No, Strife, leave him."

"Mom?"

"Leave him be," Eris smiled at her son.

"But why?"

"Just a little plan." Eris arched an eyebrow, "What's with the glamour, sweetie?"

Strife shifted uncomfortably, "Oh you know, it's nothing really. Just a bit of practice for uh, a, a…plan I have."

Eris nodded, "Oh, okay, hon. Come on let's go shall we?"

Strife glanced over to where his Uncle and Joxer were no longer sitting, "Uh, okay." He frowned slightly and flashed away with his mother.

@>*~

Joxer was sitting in a tavern, contemplating his day over a pint. It had been one of those days, one of those weeks really. He sighed and shook his head, taking a deep draught before sitting back and staring at his drink.

He'd spent most of the week fighting his way out of spontaneous brawls. Rumour had it that Cupid was in a worse mood than usual and was regularly flying into rages. Joxer reached for his drink and found his arms full of, "Ares?!"

The unconscious God added too much weight and the chair collapsed.

"Ooof," Joxer groaned under the larger man. He pushed Ares off him and stared at him in confusion. Realizing they were drawing a lot of attention, he dragged the now semi-conscious God to his feet and wrapped his arm round him carefully.

Ares blinked at him dazedly. "Joxer?" He couldn't quite work out where Joxer had come from, but it worked for him. He grinned as he realized they were heading for the stairs. "Bed? Great idea!"

Joxer frowned in confusion. What was the Love God on about? But then, Ares had always confused him. Cocky, swaggering and really quite funny normally, around Joxer he always seemed quiet and nervous.

Not today though, whoa, did Ares just pinch his butt? He quickly pushed the Love God into his room and shut the door.

@>*~

When Eris and Strife reappeared in the Temple of Love; Strife staggered a bit, bent over and threw up. 

Eris gasped when she saw what her precious baby just did and quickly went to him. "Strifey?  Sweetie, are you okay?"

Strife swiped a hand across his mouth and stood up shakily.  Smiling reassuringly at his mother, he nodded his head. "Yeah, mom. I'm fine. I think it might have been something I ate earlier that didn't agree with me."

Eris eyed her son skeptically. "Are you sure?  I could call Hermes to come take a look at you?"

"No!  I, I mean, that's okay.  I'll just go to my room and lay down for awhile.  I'm sure it'll pass with some rest." 

Eris frowned. "If you're absolutely sure?"

"I am," Strife replied, willing himself to smile once more at his mother before flashing out.

Eris stared at the spot her son had been standing for a few moments.  She had a strong feeling something just wasn't right with her son, but didn't want to push it too much.  An upset Strife wasn't a good thing.  So she decided to forego calling Hermes.  Besides, if her son said he was all right, then he must be.  Why would he lie to her about it?

After cleaning the mess Strife had made, Eris suddenly smiled wickedly.  Her plan for getting Ares back was working splendidly.  Now, all she had to do was wait and see.  With that, she flashed out in a shower of golden sparkles and rose petals.

@>*~

Cupid stiffened as a familiar scent of death enveloped him. "Psyche," he growled. Slowly he straightened and turned round, "What do you want?"

"Hello, lover!" She spat the words at him. She stepped forward and peered over his map, snorting derisively. "So, Cupe, I hear you've been a little out of sorts recently."

"You heard wrong," Cupid's eyes narrowed as he contemplated his ex-wife. "What exactly are you doing here anyway?"

"I came to see if you needed a little help, single parent, War God, lost your puppy, can't be easy for you," Psyche smirked as she watched her ex turn a dark shade of purple.

"I'll thank you to keep your nose out of my business. Bliss is nothing to you, never was and now never will be. You stay away from him or I'll kill you," Cupid fumed. She stopped smirking and snarled at him.

"Ha! You couldn't even get Strife off your back until he decided he couldn't stand you anymore." Her eyes shone triumphantly as Cupid paled.

"What do you mean?!" Cupid demanded.

"Oh, hadn't you heard?" Psyche stroked Cupid's cheek, "Apparently he refuses point blank to come anywhere near you." She sucked in a breath as Cupid caught her hand and squeezed hard.

"You don't know anything about it!" he screamed, blasting her backwards. "I told him to stay away and he's staying away!"

Psyche leapt off the floor and flung a fireball at him, "You bastard! Don't you touch me!"

Cupid ducked easily and snarled at her, "Maybe you should know better than to piss me off by now." A huge fireball began to form in his hand, "Now get out of my temple before I really hurt you!"

She glared at him, then vanished. Cupid let the fireball dissolve and sat back with a sigh. He sat heavily in his throne, trying to ignore the niggling sense of disturbance the thought that Strife was actively avoiding him brought. Maybe he should just go and…no! For Hephaestus' sake, it was Strife's problem not his!

@>*~

Joxer turned round and found himself pushed back against the door as Ares pressed up against him. "Oh, um, Ares, what are you oomph," Joxer didn't get any further as Ares kissed him.

Joxer groaned, and grabbing a double handful of pert buttock, he pulled Ares closer. Oh this was too much; he'd wanted it for so long! He plunged his tongue into Ares' mouth, listening to the Love God's unsteady moan.

Unsteady? Joxer blinked and pushed Ares away. What was he thinking? There was so obviously something wrong with the Love God. He wasn't in possession of all his faculties. And as horny as Joxer now was, he just couldn't take advantage.

Ares whimpered and reached for him again, but Joxer held him back.

"No, Ares, no."

Ares frowned in distress; "You don't want me."

Before Joxer could answer or reassure him, Ares promptly passed out again. Joxer caught him before he hit the floor and managed to drag him onto the bed where he collapsed next to the prone Love God in exhaustion.

@>*~

Ares woke slowly and snuggled into the arms that were holding him tightly. His companion moaned and pressed a substantial erection against his ass. Ares smiled and wiggled slightly. Then he froze, the previous night coming back to him full force. He pulled away and sat up, looking down at a bleary eyed Joxer.

Ares groaned.  His head was thumping and he distinctly remembered throwing himself at the warrior and being rejected. Joxer had *refused* him! Oh and what must he look like. He attempted to change his clothes and groom himself only to remember what else had happened to him.

"Oh Gods!" he squealed, jumping up to look for a mirror.

"Ares?" He stopped but didn't turn round. "Are you okay?"

Ares shook his head, chin trembling as he struggled not to cry. Crying always made his eyes red and puffy. A gentle hand on his shoulder turned him round and he was pulled into a hug.

"What happened to you?" Joxer asked gently.

"Eris…Eris blocked my powers," Ares sobbed, dropping his head onto the warrior's shoulder.

"What? How? Why?" Joxer asked in confusion. Ares held one arm up and Joxer saw the manacle on his wrist. "You're powerless?"

Ares nodded, clinging tightly to the warrior, until he remembered the rejection again and pulled away, wrapping his arms round himself protectively. Joxer stared at the sad and slightly pathetic Love God. The urge to take him to bed and make love to him until he smiled again was almost overwhelming. He closed his eyes until he regained control, forcing himself to remember that Ares would never be interested in someone like him.

"Ares, I'll, I'll help you, if you want. I'll look after you," he said quietly.

"Really?" Joxer nodded. Ares wondered why Joxer was being so nice after last night's fiasco; he so obviously hadn't wanted him anywhere near him. He was tempted to refuse the offer, but he couldn't take care of himself without his powers. But before he could say anything he spotted, "Argh!" he screamed and jumped onto the bed.

"What?" Joxer frowned. Ares pointed at the floor, whimpering. Joxer smiled, "It's only a mouse." Then when he realized Ares was on the verge of fainting, "Don't worry, I'll get rid off it."

He leapt at the mouse, luckily managing to catch it first go. He opened the door and put the mouse outside. "There, it's gone, okay?"

Ares looked out from behind his hands and nodded. "Thank you," he whispered timorously.

Joxer sighed and sat down. "Don't worry, Ares. I'm sure it'll be fine. We'll go to one of Eris' temples and I'll take care of you until we sort this out, okay?"

Ares nodded again. "Do I look okay?" he whispered.

Joxer raised an eyebrow, then seeing Ares was close to tears again, he nodded. "You, you look…" Sexy, hot, gorgeous and Gods how he wanted him! Joxer shook himself, "…perfect."

Ares finally smiled and Joxer smiled back happily.

@>*~

Cupid arrived just outside the entrance to the Love Temple. 

For the past two days he had been debating with himself whether or not this would be a good idea.  He had a war planned to begin tomorrow morning and he wanted to finally get this shit with Strife taken care of.  It was beginning to affect his job and he couldn't have that.

He growled angrily.

All Strife had to do was stay away from him, but oh no; he just had to disobey his command.  Now, he couldn't sleep very well.  He kept thinking about what he did to Strife and to make matters worse, what Psyche had said to him had hurt.  Course, he'd be damned if he was going to let anyone know that.  He did have a reputation to uphold.

He made as if to knock on the door, but stopped before his fist made contact.  Why was he so nervous?  He shook with uncontrolled fury. "Damnit! I'm a fucking War God, I don't get nervous!"  So, then why was he finding it difficult to knock?

Before he could answer himself, the door opened to reveal Eris.

"Cupid, what do *you* want?"

"How'd you know I was here?" He asked, frowning.

Eris rolled her eyes and sighed. "We've got barriers around the temple.  We can tell when someone is close by.  And besides, I could feel your negative emotions coming from a mile away."

Well, that made sense. Gods, he must really be fucked up.

"Yes, well..."

Eris opened the door wider. "Well, do you want to come inside or are you just going to stand out there all day?"

Cupid blinked.  Squaring his shoulders, he walked pass his aunt and through the door into the bright and colorful temple.  He flinched.  These people definitely never heard of black.

Closing the door, Eris repeated her earlier question. "So, Cupid. What do you want?"

Obviously, Strife never told his mother about what happened between them because he was certain he'd either be impotent for the rest of his days or dead right now. 

"I'm here to speak with Strife.  Is he here?"  Cupid already knew the answer to his question. He had searched all over Olympus looking for him.  He mainly asked out of courtesy.

"Yes, he's here," Eris replied. "Wait here a moment and I'll go get him."

Eris waited till Cupid nodded his understanding before heading off towards her son's bedchamber.

@>*~

"Right, are you hungry?" Joxer asked.

Ares thought for a moment. "Yes, I think I am."

"Okay, let's get some food, then we'll make a start, how's that sound?"

Ares nodded eagerly. They walked together back down to the tavern and Joxer sat Ares down at a table to wait.

As Joxer ordered some food, he thought about what he was doing. It was probably not one of his best ideas. With luck they could get to the nearest town with a temple in a week, but he seriously doubted Ares was much of a traveler and what with all the excessive aggression recently, anything could happen. But he'd had a thing for the Love God for a long time, and he just couldn't leave Ares defenseless and helpless.

"Joxer!" Ares' frightened cry startled him from his thoughts. He strode back to the main room, frowning when he saw Ares cowering away from a large man who appeared to be mocking him. Joxer walked up to the table getting barely a glance from the man.

"Leave him alone," Joxer said quietly.

The man turned to him with a scowl. "Get lost or get hurt!"

Joxer smirked. He pulled out a dagger and had the man's arm twisted up behind his back, dagger to his throat before he could blink. "I believe that was the wrong answer."

Ares' eyes widened. While he normally abhorred violence he couldn't help the small thrill he felt at Joxer coming to his rescue. Then to his horror he saw a second man sneaking up behind Joxer. Before he could say anything, Joxer spun round and threw the dagger. The second man dropped and as the first man struggled, Joxer casually broke his neck.

Rolling his shoulders back and taking a deep breath, Joxer turned back to Ares. "Come on, we'd better get out of here," he said quietly to the horrified God. Ares nodded wordlessly and allowed himself to be dragged out of the inn and away. When they were far from the village, Joxer finally let them stop. Ares was tired and hungry and euw, he was sweaty.

"Are you okay?" Joxer asked him, handing him a flask of water. Ares nodded; still horrified at the way Joxer had nonchalantly killed those men. Joxer paced as the God drank. "Damn, I was hoping to buy you some clothes and a bedroll. We'll have to share if that's okay with you?"

Ares swallowed. He wanted to say, not really. Being so close to Joxer would be very hard on him, but even he knew it was necessary to stay warm at night. "What's wrong with my clothes?" he asked.

"Huh?" Joxer raised an eyebrow.

"You said you were going to buy me clothes, what's wrong with mine?" Ares asked quietly.

Joxer pushed aside the thought that Ares' clothes would be best off him and answered tactfully. "Oh, nothing, they're just a little conspicuous that's all. And nothing I have will fit you."

"Oh, I see."

"Come on, I know you're not used to this so I'll try to take it a bit slower, but it's going to take a while to get to town. The sooner we go, the sooner we get there," Joxer said, holding out his hand.

Ares took the proffered hand and got to his feet, hiding his hurt. Joxer couldn't wait to get rid of him. Ares decided to do the best he could so he wouldn't burden the warrior any longer than was necessary.

Joxer shouldered his pack and started to walk, Ares by his side looking slightly dejected. Joxer couldn't imagine what the Love God thought of him now, after killing those two men. But he'd been angry and had done it out of habit. Both men walked in silence, lost in their thoughts.

@>*~

Strife was laid out on his bed, absentmindedly rubbing his abdomen.  His thoughts as usual were all focused on a certain God of War.  No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't keep Cupid out of his head.  Course, it didn't help that he was carrying Cupid's baby.

He was startled out of his thoughts when he heard a knock on his door.

Making sure his glamour was still in place, he sat up in his bed. "Come in."

Opening the door slowly, Eris stepped through the threshold and smiled sweetly at her son. "Sweetie, Cupid is here to see you."  Strife sat up slowly and blinked at her. "Sweetie?" she repeated.

"Sorry, Mom, I thought you just said Cupid was here. What did you say?" Strife asked.

"Uh, Cupid is here to see you?" Eris raised her eyebrows in confusion.

Strife started to panic, what in Tartarus was Cupid doing here?! What more could he possibly want? He took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down, this was one confrontation he'd never thought to have to worry about!

What was he going to do, what if Cupid…no, no, he wasn't going to try anything. Besides, Strife had done as he was told, he'd stayed away.

"Strife? Honey?" Eris couldn't quite keep the worried frown from her face.

Strife shook himself and smiled up at his mother, "Sorry, um, I guess, show him in?"

"You okay, sweetie? Do you want me to send him away?" Eris had caught the hesitation in her son's tone.

"No, no, it's fine," Strife said firmly. He double, then triple checked the glamour and tried to prepare himself, although for what, he wasn't sure.

Cupid allowed himself to be led by a slightly suspicious looking Eris to what he guessed was Strife's room. He resisted the urge to sneer at the delicate shades of blue and yellow that the room was decorated in. It was actually a lot less garish than he was expecting.

Cupid stared at Strife, who was sitting on his bed, which did absolutely nothing for his self control. He closed his eyes, he was so *not* thinking of Strife in *that* way! When he opened his eyes, he allowed himself to meet Strife's gaze, and scowled. The slight fear he could see in Strife's eyes made him feel…well he wasn't sure exactly what, but feeling was quite bad enough!

Strife stared back at Cupid, wondering what the scowl meant. Then he realized his mother was standing in the doorway watching them curiously.

"Uh, Mom, thanks but can I talk to Cupid alone please?"

Eris started. "But, I…"

"Mom." Strife raised his eyebrows at her and he motioned his head at the door. Cupid turned and glared at her. Eris' eyes widened and she backed away. Strife waved his hand to close the door behind her. Cupid turned back and blinked in shock at the blank, expressionless mask on Strife's usually open, happy face.

"What do you want?" Strife asked quietly. "I did what you told me, I stayed away."

Cupid clenched his jaw, his rehearsed speech going straight out the window at the unexpected reaction from Strife. He stared uncertainly, he wasn't even sure *why* he was there.

"I, well, I," Cupid stopped and scowled again. This wasn't going anything like how he thought it would, damn it! He was the God of War, he wasn't supposed to be nervous and unsure.

"Yes?"

Cupid jumped and that pissed him off more and he growled. Strife flinched. What, by the Gods, did Cupid want, just standing there acting mean and moody? Which while incredibly attractive, was also making him feel very nervous.

"Damn it, I don't know!" Cupid snapped. He started to pace. "You, I, fuck!" He stopped and turned back to Strife. "You okay?" he asked roughly. He frowned at the slightly hysterical laughter from the God of Happiness that he got in reply.

"Am I okay? Sure, whatever, yeah, you know once the bruises and stuff healed I felt just peachy. Are you done? Cos you know I'm kinda busy," Strife needed Cupid not to be there, the sooner the better. He couldn't let anything slip about the baby and he couldn't cope with Cupid's nearness, not when he couldn't have him.

Cupid actually flinched, although Strife missed it. He couldn't quite believe Strife was giving him the brush off. "Strife, I," he stopped when Strife directed a pretty decent glare at him. "Sure, I'm done." He flashed away angrily and Strife collapsed back on the bed in relief.

@>*~

The next couple of days were pretty uneventful, well for Joxer anyway. The attacks were nothing he couldn't handle and to be expected when traveling with a guy dressed in white leather. He'd given Ares a cloak but he could tell the God was suffering with the heat, and he didn't handle sweating well.

What Joxer was finding hard to handle, was sharing a bedroll with Ares. Being so close, sharing the Love God's body heat. And to make matters worse, Ares was a snuggler.  Joxer woke up each morning with Ares curled up in his arms, their limbs entangled. So far he'd managed to pull away before Ares woke up, so he wouldn't feel Joxer's morning erection.

Ares was doing his very best, he didn't complain or whine, and tried hard not to act like a total wuss when they were attacked, but he just couldn't handle being dirty and smelly.

"Joxer?"

"What?" Joxer immediately regretted his tone when he saw Ares' face. "Sorry, I was just thinking, didn't mean to snap."

Ares brightened a little. "S'okay," he said quietly.

"What is it?"

"I really, really need to wash. I, well, I *smell*!" Ares flushed at Joxer's amused expression.

"Honestly, Ares, you don't smell bad. Some people I've traveled with never wash." Joxer chuckled at the look of sheer horror that passed over the Love God's face. "Come on then, I can hear a stream over there." Joxer led the way through the trees until they reached a small stream.

Ares sighed in relief. He dropped the cloak and stripped off his leather vest, then he stopped. Joxer swallowed hard at the sight of Ares' lightly furred chest. He was starting to wonder at the wisdom of being in a situation where Ares was naked. Then he realized Ares had stopped undressing.

"What's up?" he asked, cursing his phrasing and adjusting himself surreptitiously.

"I, uh, I don't think I'll be able to get my pants back on, if I take them off," Ares whispered, blushing furiously.

"Oh Gods," Joxer groaned quietly. He firmly banished the vision of a permanently naked Ares from his mind and managed not to laugh as well. "Well, um, it's up to you. You can just wash your upper body, or you can risk taking your pants off and if you have trouble getting then back on, I can help you."

Ares pursed his lips thoughtfully. "I, uh, I think I'll leave them on," he said quietly. He was having enough trouble controlling his body's response to Joxer as it was, there was no way he wouldn't get aroused if Joxer had to help him with his pants. Joxer shrugged, torn between disappointment and relief.

Ares knelt by the stream and splashed the cool water onto his face and chest, sighing in satisfaction. Joxer dug out some rough soap, he decided he might as well wash while they were stopping. He stripped and hurried into the water, washing quickly without looking at Ares. Walking out of the water, he handed Ares the soap, still not looking at the Love God, and missed the hungry gaze directed at his groin.

Ares swallowed, quite unable to tear his eyes from Joxer's soft cock, nestling in wet, springy curls. He took the soap wordlessly and turned slightly to watch Joxer's firm ass as the warrior walked back to his clothes. Quickly he looked away and washed carefully, willing his erection to go away. Maybe it was a good thing after all that Joxer didn't want him around too long, Ares wasn't sure how much longer he could hold out.

Oh, but what if Eris didn't take the manacle off, what would he do then? He couldn't possibly ask Joxer to look after him any longer and he didn't relish the thought of asking his relatives for help, although he was sure he could rely on Strife, Deimos and Phobos to help him. But then, what if it was a plot against him?

Ares shook his head and groaned, now he was getting paranoid. He jumped at a hand on his shoulder. Joxer pulled his hand away quickly thinking Ares had flinched, making Ares think Joxer didn't want to touch him.

"You okay?" Joxer asked quietly.

"Yeah, just letting my imagination run wild," Ares replied in a subdued tone.

"You're worried about your sister, aren't you?" Ares nodded. "There must be a reason why she did this, I mean other than the obvious," Joxer said thoughtfully.

"The obvious?" Ares asked.

"That she wants to rule the House of Love."

"Oh no, not Eris, no. She hates responsibility, she says it gives her crow's feet," Ares said with certainty.

Joxer blinked rapidly, then he chuckled. "Okay, so can you think of any reason why she would leave you with me, helpless," Joxer raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"She left me with you?" Ares asked. He realized he couldn't remember how he'd ended up with Joxer.

"Not exactly, you appeared in my arms," Joxer replied.

"She wouldn't?!" Ares gasped, wide eyed.

Joxer frowned in confusion, "Wouldn't what?"

Ares blushed a deep red, "Um, nothing. Um, it might be a little bit of revenge. I've been trying to set up Strife and Cupid and she wasn't happy about it."

Joxer choked, "Cupid and Strife, are you kidding?!"

"Why does everyone say that?! Am I the only one who sees how perfect they are for each other?" Ares exclaimed.

"Uh, I'm guessing, yeah," Joxer shook his head, it was about as likely as him and Ares.

Ares looked away, he still couldn't believe his sister had planned such a cruel revenge. To leave him under the protection of the man he loved, when Joxer so obviously felt nothing but pity for him.

"Ares?" Ares looked up and Joxer smiled at him. "I'm sure it'll be fine once we talk to Eris, and, well, if you say Cupid and Strife belong together, then I'm sure they do."

Ares blinked and smiled. "Thank you."

@>*~

Cupid reappeared in his temple in an angry flash of sparks.

How dare Strife brush him off like some, some...argh!  Pissed off beyond all recognition, he proceeded to form fireballs in the palms of his hands and toss them at whatever was within sight. 

All he had been trying to do was apologize to Strife. 

But would he listen? 

Fuck no! 

Cupid growled in annoyance.  He didn't have time to deal with this shit!  He had a major war starting soon and needed to prepare. 

Twitching with anger, Cupid stomped off towards his desk, yanked his war plans from on top of it and flashed out.

Rematerializing inside his bedchamber, Cupid threw himself down on top of his bed.  Trying desperately to forget about his cousin, Cupid began looking over his scrolls.

@>*~

"Look out!" Joxer leapt and shoved himself and Ares out of the path of several horses. "Oooof!"

He landed on top of his companion and stared down at him. Ares was so beautiful, staring up at him all wide eyed and breathless, Joxer found himself leaning down, just to taste. Ares lifted his head in wonder, hoping what he thought was happening, was actually happening.

"Destroyer, no!"

Ares closed his eyes in frustration as Joxer pulled away, dragging them both to their feet, and away from a small hooded figure holding a dagger and making odd noises. Ares looked up.

"Oh great," he sighed, "It's the Duh Squad." He shook his head at the sight of his daughter, more specifically, what she was wearing.

Joxer stared at him for a moment, then he started to laugh. "The Duh Squad?" he gasped, "Oh, that's good!"

Ares grinned at him, then ducked behind him at a hiss from the cloaked figure.

"Kill now?" it said.

"No!" Ares looked back up at his half brother who was frowning down at them. "Ares?"

Ares swallowed and cleared his throat before replying, but he stayed behind Joxer. "Hello, Herkie," he said quietly.

"That's Sovereign!" Hercules snapped in annoyance, Gods damn the Gods! He didn't really notice how stupid that sounded. He hated the stupid Gods; they had more power than he did, damn them. He was sure he could take Ares but he didn't want to risk it. "What are you doing here anyway?"

Ares nearly died; he knew exactly how much danger he'd be in if Hercules knew he was powerless. "I, uh, I…"

"He's on a secret mission," Joxer butted in quietly.

"Wow, and you're roughing it, daddy?" Xena fluttered her eyelashes. "You must be so tired and *stiff*!" she exclaimed climbing off her horse in a very inelegant manner which showed off her, uh, attributes. "I could, ya know, *rub* you down, or you Joxie, or both."

Ares and Joxer both took a step backwards and cringed as she bounced excitedly.

"Rub, she said rub, ya know as in *rub*?!" Iolaus chuckled.

Hercules turned to him in disgust. Then he frowned. "Destroyer bad, no touch Iolaus!" Iolaus squealed and maneuvered his horse behind Hercules'.

"Bad, Destroyer bad. Want to kill, kill, kill, kill!" the cloaked figure twisted round in circles until it fell.

Hercules tutted, "Well, kill a rabbit or something!"

"What's up with that?" Joxer whispered to Ares as they both tried to avoid Xena's wandering hands.

"Herc's executioner, not all there if ya know what I mean!" Ares whispered back. He jumped with a small scream when his daughter pinched his butt.

"Hey! That's enough!" Joxer shoved her away and she fell backwards on her ass.

"We can see your knickers!" Iolaus chanted.

"Kill the wabbit." Ares turned just in time to see the executioner leap onto a rabbit she'd pinned to a tree with her dagger. "Oh, oh, oh, oh good wabbit, beautiful wabbit, gonna die sooo pretty."

Ares started to gag as the executioner began to make grunting and groaning noises as she twisted the rabbit's neck, then she shuddered as she rubbed the blood between her hands. "Oh Gods," Ares finally managed to tear his eyes away and he leaned heavily on Joxer, who wrapped an arm round him to support him.

"Aw, does my poor brother feel bad for the little, fluffy bunny?" Hercules smirked at Ares. "Have you been a bad girl, Destroyer?"

"She bad, she really bad," Iolaus chuckled inanely.

Hercules turned back to his jester and spotted Xena sidling up to him. "Hey slut, hands off the slutboy if ya want to keep them!" Then he turned to Iolaus, "And you open your mouth for my tongue or my cock only, got it?" Hercules snapped.

Xena pouted and got back on her horse, if she was lucky, they'd be galloping again soon, at least she could get off then! Iolaus moved closer to Hercules, throwing nervous glances at the Destroyer, who was spinning giddily again.

Hercules was pissed off to the extreme. While he'd dearly love to pound the crap out of his brother, Ares would just cheat and flash away or if pushed use a fireball. Hercules pouted in contemplation, oh well, Joxer would do.

"Hey you!" he snapped at Joxer as he got off his horse. "You pushed my slut!"

Joxer's eyes narrowed and he rolled his shoulders and cracked his fingers. "Yeah, so?"

"Uh, Joxer," Ares whispered into Joxer's ear from behind him, "No offence, but he *is* a demigod."

Joxer smiled softly at the note of concern in Ares' voice. "I'll be fine, don't worry." Ares took a deep, shaky breath and nodded, stepping back. Joxer strode forward confidently, Hercules may have been very strong but he was a crappy fighter and very slow, as long as he could avoid Hercules' blows, he'd be fine.

"But Auntie says I can have a ribbon!"

Hercules and Joxer stopped advancing on each other and every head turned to the short, blonde executioner who was currently arguing with her staff.

"Destroyer! Go mount up, now!" Hercules snapped. He was about to speak again when a loud clap of thunder interrupted him. Iolaus and the Destroyer both squealed in terror. Hercules sighed.

"Punish, punish, Destroyer bad," the executioner rocked on her horse, "Lightning punish."

"Sovereign, please," Iolaus sobbed. "It's dangerous out here in the trees!"

Hercules glared at his brother and Joxer. "Later!" he snapped and ran for his horse. He didn't particularly want to get wet, or have to deal with his loony sidekicks in a storm.

Ares sighed in relief as the 'Duh Squad' rode away, then squeaked in horror as the rain began to pour down. They were soaked through to the skin in seconds. Joxer grabbed his hand.

"Come on, let's try and find some shelter," Joxer shouted over the thunder. Ares nodded and they started to run through the trees.

@>*~

As soon as Eris felt Cupid leave her son's room, she walked over to the door and knocked. She opened it at her son's summons.

"Strifey, are you okay?"

Strife sighed. "Yeah, Mom. I'm fine."

Eris walked over to her son and sat down on the bed next to him.  "So, what did Cupid want?"

Strife blinked and smiled reassuringly at his mother. He had to fight the urge to confess everything. "Not much. He...uh, wanted to know if Unc was free to baby-sit Bliss."

Eris raised a disbelieving eyebrow at her son. "Mmm, hmm.  And what did you tell him?"

Strife thought frantically.  From the look his mother was giving him, she didn't believe a word of it...so far anyway. "I told him Unc was busy working with Joxer."

"Then what'd he say?" 

Strife began to get angry.  What in Tartarus was this?  Twenty questions? 

"Well?" Eris prompted.

"Look, Mom. Cupid just wanted to know about Unc and I told him, okay?  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm tired and would like to be left alone so I can sleep," Strife finally snapped at his mother.

Eris blinked in shock at her son's angry tone of voice. Strife had never snapped at her before.  Getting up from the bed, Eris silently opened the door and walked out.

Strife felt really bad for getting mad at his mother, but if she had kept pushing him; he was afraid he would have let it all spill out and that was the *last* thing he needed right now.  Closing his eyes, he fell heavily back onto his bed and tried in vain to go to sleep. But tonight, sleep wouldn't come easy.

After closing the door behind her, Eris stalked off towards her own room.  Something was most definitely up between her baby and that brute, Cupid!  But what exactly, she hadn't a clue.  She vowed to find out just as soon as her plan with Ares and Joxer was completed.

@>*~

Ares and Joxer ran through the trees.

"There!" Joxer shouted, pointing at a small cabin. Ares nodded and followed him. The cabin was dark and empty and smelled damp, but at least they were out of the storm. Joxer looked round and spotted some wood. He started to build a fire. Ares pulled off his cloak and tried to dry himself.

"Oh Gods," he sighed, "What must I look like?!"

Joxer lit the fire and blew it to life. "You look," he turned and looked up at Ares, and his breath caught in his throat. The Love God's hair was plastered in little ringlets to his forehead and his skin glistened from the water. "Oh Gods," Joxer groaned.

"I look really bad, don't I? And my hair always goes really frizzy and…"

"Ares, you couldn't look bad if you tried, believe me!" Joxer exclaimed. "Oh hey, you're shivering." Joxer stood up and started pulling off his clothes. "Get undressed."

"What?!" Ares stared at Joxer's slowly revealed body.

"Get undressed. We need to get dry and warm, you can't do that in wet clothes," Joxer explained.

"Oh, okay." Ares stripped off his clothes, still unable to tear his eyes from Joxer and not noticing Joxer's hungry stare.

"Lay your clothes out by the fire and then snuggle under the blankets." Joxer laid his bedroll and blankets out in front of the fire, thankfully they were still dry.

Ares hesitantly sat next to Joxer, trying not to touch him. Joxer wasn't sure about sitting naked with a naked Ares, but the Love God was still shivering and they had to get warm. So he put his arm round Ares' shoulders and pulled him close. Ares jumped and gasped.

"Sorry, but we have to share body heat," Joxer whispered, misinterpreting Ares' reaction.

"I know, you just startled me, that's all." Ares stared into the fire, trying to will his erection away. Unconsciously, he rested his head on Joxer's shoulder. Joxer sighed quietly and leaned his cheek on Ares' damp hair. Gradually, Ares' shivering subsided.

"Feel better?" Joxer whispered. His hand lifted from Ares' shoulder to stroke his hair of its own accord.

"Oh yeah," Ares sighed happily. He lifted his head to smile at Joxer. Their eyes locked and Joxer leaned forward and gently brushed his lips over Ares' mouth. Ares blinked at him wide eyed.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" Joxer exclaimed, trying to pull away. What had he been thinking?

Ares held on tight and shook his head. "Don't be," he whispered.

Joxer cupped Ares' cheek and gently stroked his thumb over full lips. Ares sighed and leaned into the soft touch.

"Are you sure?" Joxer asked quietly.

"More than you know," Ares smiled shyly.

Joxer groaned and leaned forward again, pausing for just a second before he kissed the Love God again. Soft lips parted under his and he dipped his tongue inside the sweet warmth. Ares' tongue flickered out to meet it and they tasted each other slowly.

Ares made a small whimpering noise and they twisted to face each other. Joxer pulled Ares closer, lifting the God's legs over his so they wrapped round his hips. Both men gasped as their cocks brushed together.

Joxer groaned again and ran his hands over silky smooth skin as his tongue delved deeper. Ares held on tightly, sucking on Joxer's exploring tongue as he shifted even closer. Then suddenly Joxer pulled away.

"Wha…?" Ares moaned in confusion.

"I, I'm sorry, I can't," Joxer wondered what in Tartarus he was doing giving up the chance to be with Ares, if only once. But that was the problem; he couldn't cope with the thought of being with Ares just once.

"But, but why?" Ares was ready to cry. He wanted Joxer so desperately, he'd never thought the warrior could ever want him, and to have it taken away from him was just too much to bear.

Joxer looked away. "I, I just can't do the one night thing, not with you," he whispered.

"But I don't want a one night thing, Joxer," Ares said, hoping that revealing his feelings wouldn't get his heart broken.

"What do you mean?" Joxer frowned in confusion.

"I, um, I want…I'd like a, a forever thing with you," Ares whispered.

"You would?" Joxer gasped, "With me?" Ares nodded, looking away nervously. "Hey," Joxer whispered, lifting Ares' head back up to stare into his eyes, "I love you too."

Ares' smile was blinding; Joxer just had to kiss him again. Ares moaned happily, leaning into the kiss. Joxer gently pushed him back onto the bedroll and rearranged the blankets over them, before lying on top of the larger man. He stared down at his almost lover for a moment, wondering how Ares could possibly love him.

"Because you have a beautiful soul," Ares whispered.

Joxer smiled, "I thought your powers were blocked."

"They are, but I could tell from the look on your face." Ares stroked Joxer's cheek, then pulled him down for another kiss.

Joxer shifted slightly to line up their cocks and thrust gently. Ares moaned and he slid his hands down Joxer's back to his ass, kneading lightly as they moved together. Joxer lifted his head and gently bit the end of Ares' nose. He smiled as Ares giggled, then shifted lower so he could taste the broad expanse of chest. He kissed every inch, following each kiss with a lick and an occasional nibble while Ares moaned and wriggled under him.

He sucked Ares' nipples into hard peaks before leaning up to kiss him hard.

Ares thrust up against him and he groaned, shifting again so he could take Ares' cock in a tight grip. Ares gasped into Joxer's mouth as his lover stroked him smoothly. Joxer lifted his head and smiled before nuzzling his neck and nibbling his ear.

"Gods, Joxer, gonna, oh," Ares came with a cry, jerking against Joxer's body. Joxer dipped his fingers into Ares' warm seed and pushed Ares' legs apart, sliding his fingers between firm asscheeks.

"Oh please," Ares whimpered. He needed Joxer inside him badly.

Joxer smiled again. "Shh," he whispered, "Soon." He prepared his lover carefully until his tight hole was loosened and slick. Then he rubbed Ares' come over his cock. Ares relaxed and took a deep breath as Joxer's cock pushed inside him.

"Oh Ares, Gods you're so tight. Feels so good," Joxer groaned. Ares was floating in ecstasy, but he needed completion, needed Joxer fully inside him.

He grasped Joxer's hips and pulled him forward, gasping at the stretch. Joxer yelped as he was buried balls deep in his lover. He gritted his teeth using every ounce of his self-control not to come on the spot. Ares wriggled impatiently.

"Please, Joxer, need you," he begged breathily. At last Joxer started to move, sliding smoothly in and out of Ares' tight, hot passage.

"Yes!" Ares shuddered happily, wrapping his legs round Joxer's hips so he could meet every thrust. Joxer's cock brushed over his sweet spot sending jolts of pleasure through him as he hardened again. His cock slid between their stomachs getting just the right amount of friction. Joxer thrust deeply again and again as he felt his climax approaching.

"Gods, Ares, love you," he gasped, burying himself one last time. As he came, he felt the warm spurt of Ares' second orgasm on his belly before he collapsed onto his lover. Ares held tightly trying not to cry with happiness. It had been so long since he'd truly been in love, and loved in return.

Joxer pulled out of him gently and slid onto the floor, pulling Ares into a tight hug. Ares rested his head on Joxer's chest and listened to his lover's heartbeat slow after his exertions.

"Sleep love," Joxer whispered, "We'll reach town tomorrow and find out what your sister's up to, okay?"

Ares nodded and pressed a kiss onto Joxer's chest before closing his eyes. Joxer smiled, tightening his embrace briefly as he too drifted off.

@>*~

Cupid stepped back from the carnage, panting harshly. He smiled cruelly at the death and blood. The only thing marring his pleasure in the war, well other than having to work with Psyche, was the fact that his fucking cousin was still occupying his mind. At least when he was actually fighting, he could block it all out. The simplicity of death, strangely enough, made him feel calm.

He spotted Psyche heading in his direction and growled angrily. The damnable bitch had been making little digs all fucking week and it was getting on his already thinly stretched nerves. He put his leather mask back on and turned away to rejoin his warriors.

He sighed; the fight, the clash of steel on steel, the scent of blood, nothing made him happier. Happy? Gods damn him! Every fucking thought came back to Strife; he couldn't even lose himself in his work anymore. He snarled viciously and leapt at a rather unlucky warrior who happened to be in his way.

The next few minutes were a blur as he worked his way bloodily through the heaving mass of fighting men.

"Hey, you fucking idiot!"

Cupid swung round with a growl and stabbed the figure standing behind him.

"Like, ow, you stupid fuck!"

Cupid's sight cleared and he pulled his sword from Psyche's stomach with a disgusted snort. "What's your fucking problem, bitch?!"

She grimaced at him, "Well, apart from ruining my best armor, jerk, you're killing *our* fucking warriors!"

Cupid ducked a blow, and his arm shot out to grasp an unfortunate warrior, "Who really gives a flying fuck?" He dragged his dagger across the man's throat, pausing just long enough to feel the warm gush of blood before dropping him. "It's my war, I'll do what the fuck I want!"

"Just what is your problem lately, dickwad?  Huh?" Psyche neatly side stepped a blow aimed at her head. "You're even more of an aggressive piece of shit than usual!" She spun round, bringing her sword down in a deadly arc, separating her attacker's head from his body.

Cupid frowned, "And you give a shit, why exactly?" He frowned at her as she licked blood from her hands. There had once been a time when they would have been fucking like bunnies at this point, but all he felt for her now was disgust.

"You're totally ruining my fun!" she pouted.

"Oh well, I do beg your pardon," he growled sarcastically. "Just go do your job, cos if I have to do it for you, I will skin you and make pants!"

She snarled at him and flounced off.

He stared at her back, what had he ever seen in her? He shook his head, the difference between the she-bitch from Tartarus and Strife was beyond description. Strife was just so, soft and…oh for fuck's sake! He was *not* going to think about Strife like that. Hephaestus, he wasn't going to think about Strife, period!

The snarl he let out made the whole battlefield shake, and he leapt into the killing with a vengeance.

@>*~

Joxer woke up to the pleasant sensation of warm breath on his skin and a hard cock pressed against his thigh. He smiled and enjoyed the feeling, before easing out of Ares' arms to get dressed. Quickly putting some more wood in the hearth to build up the fire, he then headed for the door.

"Where are you going?" The question was hesitant and nervous; Ares' voice was tremulous.

Joxer turned and smiled reassuringly. "Just to get some food, love. I wanted to let you sleep."

Ares took a deep, shaky breath and nodded. "Oh okay, thank you, but…"

"But what?" Joxer asked gently.

"Please, don't leave me alone. What if, what if Herc comes back?" Ares winced a little at his whiny tone.

"Okay," Joxer smiled, "I'll stay, but I don't think he's going to come back." He sat back down next to Ares, who leaned into his arms. Joxer hugged his lover close. "We're close now, do you want to head off?"

Ares nodded, "Yeah, I want to know what Eris thought she was up to."

Joxer stood up and gathered Ares' clothes. "Do you think you're going to be able to get back into these? I didn't realize quite how tight you wore them!"

Ares blushed, "Well, um, it's because we can think them on or off, so I like to have them like a second skin."

Joxer shuddered and closed his eyes for a second, to regain his self-control. Ares stood up and tried to pull his pants on. After lying down again, much tugging, help from Joxer and a lot of hysterical laughter, he eventually got them pulled up and tied tightly.

Joxer slid his hand over Ares' ass, pretending to smooth a wrinkle. It was Ares' turn to shudder.

"Gods, I can't wait to get you back to my place," he whispered, biting his lip in anticipation.

Joxer's eyes glazed over for a second, and then he shook himself. "Well, what are we waiting for, let's go!" Ares grinned and let himself be tugged out of the cabin.

@>*~

They walked hurriedly towards the town, speeding up when the first buildings came into view. They kept a tight hold of each other's hand, ignoring the strange looks they got from various travelers they passed.

There was a brief delay when they were accosted at the entrance to the town, but a growl from an increasingly frustrated Joxer was more than enough to scare their potential attackers away.

Ares just smiled happily and let himself be dragged to his sister's temple.

Finally inside, Joxer looked round at the deserted building. "Where is everyone?"

Ares' eyes widened, "What time is it?"

Joxer frowned," I don't know, about an hour after dawn at a guess."

Ares blinked. "An hour after dawn?" he squeaked. "There's no way Eris will be up at such an ungodly hour, nor will her priests and priestesses."

"Oh." Joxer sat down on a table looking oddly defeated. "How long will we have to wait?"

Ares shrugged and sat next to him. He leaned against his lover and turned to whisper into his ear. "You know we have bedchambers in all our temples?"

Joxer nodded, "Uh huh, yeah, I'd heard…oh." Ares smiled and licked Joxer's ear. "Oh!" Joxer exclaimed. "Well, let's go!"

This time Ares was doing the dragging. Joxer stared round the room, wincing at the décor.

"I know, it's a bit pink, isn't it?" Ares grinned at Joxer and peeled his clothes off as he walked over to the bed.

"Oh Gods," Joxer whispered, watching Ares bend over to rummage through a drawer. He hurried over and stood behind his lover, stroking soft skin appreciatively.

"Aha! Got it!" Ares exclaimed, he straightened and leaned back against Joxer, sighing happily. Joxer wrapped his arms around Ares' broad chest and trailed his fingers across hardening nipples. He pressed his cock up against the crease of Ares' bare ass, and groaned when Ares wriggled his hips.

"Get your clothes off, lover," Ares whispered.

Joxer stripped, not taking his eyes off Ares, who draped himself attractively over the bed. "What did you get?"

"Huh?" Ares blinked, tearing his eyes off Joxer's crotch.

Joxer snickered, "From the drawer?"

"Oh," Ares smiled secretively, "Just oil."

Joxer raised an eyebrow, "Uh, okay."

Ares pouted, "Well, what are you waiting for?" Joxer grinned and pounced. "Oooh!" Ares squealed. Joxer had landed between his legs and he found himself pushed back and his cock enveloped in wet heat.

Ares dropped back against the bed; his lover's talented tongue was driving him insane combined with the intense grip of lips and throat and the occasional gentle scrape of teeth. He retained enough brain cells to hand Joxer the small vial of oil.

"In me, please," he gasped.

Joxer continued to suck enthusiastically while he poured oil onto his fingers. It felt a bit weird, but he didn't waste any time, and gently rubbed the entrance to Ares' body. Ares bucked and squealed again. Joxer pulled back slightly so he didn't choke, and pushed into the tight hole of his lover.

Ares shuddered bodily; groaning under the motion of fingers pumping inside him. Joxer reached in deeper and stroked Ares' sweet spot. Ares came with a yowl, thrusting deep into Joxer's mouth. Joxer swallowed noisily.

"Please Joxer, please, need you inside me, now," Ares panted, rolling over and getting on his hands and knees. Joxer swept his hands over the firm buttocks with a groan.

"I'm there, baby," he whispered, rubbing oil on his aching cock. "Fuck!" he exclaimed, as intense pleasure swept through him, "What was that?"

"The oil," Ares gasped, "It intensifies the feelings."

"Now you tell me," Joxer groaned. He pushed into Ares in one quick stroke and gripped the base of his cock to keep from coming as he shuddered from the feel of Ares' velvet heat. Once he'd got himself under control, Joxer started to move.

Ares jerked back. "I *need* you," he whispered pleadingly.

"You want me to take you hard, baby?" Joxer grinned and thrust deeply.

Ares whimpered, gripping the bed sheets tightly, "Please!"

Joxer grinned, "My pleasure, baby." Joxer started to pound into the willing body beneath him. Ares moaned and thrust back to meet each stroke, their two bodies moving together rhythmically, sensuously.

Joxer leant forward and rested his chest against Ares' back, wrapping his arms round broad shoulders, holding tightly, fucking them both to oblivion.

He licked the sweat from the back of Ares' neck, and whispered, "I'm coming, baby. Come with me." Joxer bit Ares' earlobe and Ares screamed, jerking against him, as he was filled with hot seed. Ares dropped to the bed, groaning at the loss of Joxer's cock inside him. Joxer rolled slightly, and collapsed next to him, drawing his sated lover into his arms.

Ares nestled happily in Joxer's arms. "I do love you, you know?"

Joxer smiled and kissed him hard, "I know, I love you too."

@>*~

Strife backed away from the room where he'd been watching secretly. The soft endearments being exchanged by his uncle and Joxer were just too much for him to bear.

The sex had been, well, wow, but the love had made all the difference. It just brought it home to him how much he was missing, what he wanted in *his* life.

He shook his head and swallowed the lump in his throat. He couldn't cry now, he had to go and tell his mother they were ready. He flashed back up to the love temple where he found his mom fiddling with her make up.

She grinned up at him, "Strifey, sweetie! They done boinking yet?" Strife nodded morosely. "Coolies! I'll go interrupt them, they are too cute together!" Strife nodded again. She allowed her brow to crinkle slightly. "Strife, hon, are you okay?"

"Yeah, mom," Strife smiled at his mother. "I'm sorry about before, you know? I was just real tired."

Eris smiled, "I know my darling, it's okay, really. You go rest, I have my brother to deal with now." She managed an almost evil grin, and Strife had to laugh. She patted his cheek gently and flashed away.

@>*~

Hercules was laid out on his bedroll, surrounded by Iolaus on his right and Xena on his left.  He had woken up earlier, unable to go back to sleep.  Something about Ares had been niggling at the back of his mind for the past day.  Plus, looking back, Hercules remembered his sissy brother wearing some sort of manacle. He didn't think anything of it then, but now...

He suddenly sat up, knocking his two fucktoys off of him.  They both grumbled and rolled over.

"That was Morpheus metal he was wearing!" Hercules exclaimed, getting a sleepy growl from Destroyer.

"Destroyer need sleep! Shut up!"

Ignoring his executioner's outburst, Hercules jumped to his feet and began getting dressed.

"Get up, dickwads!  We're heading back into town," Hercules shouted as he kicked his three companions into wakefulness.

Destroyer growled unintelligently and got up. "Sovereign bad. Mean to Destroyer."

Iolaus rolled over and sat up. "Aw, Sovereign. Can't this wait till morning?" Iolaus whined, a pout forming on his lips.

Hercules glared at Iolaus, who whimpered and hurriedly got dressed.

Xena giggled at Iolaus' perdicament (predicament) until Hercules smacked her one across the mouth. "Ow! That was *not* nice!  You could've..."  Xena stopped whatever she had been about to say when she saw the heated look sent her way from Hercules. "Getting dressed now."

Hercules sighed quietly to himself. How he managed to end up with the three of them, he couldn't remember. Shaking his head, Hercules went over to the horses and mounted up.

@>*~

“Like, that is so adorable!”

Ares and Joxer jumped.

“Eris!” Ares squealed, dragging the covers over himself and his lover.

“Oh Arry, honey, it’s not like I haven’t seen it all before, ya know,” Eris winked suggestively at the couple.

Ares’ eyes widened and he flushed under the intensely confused, questioning look he was getting from Joxer. “She, um, she just means, she sees me naked at orgies and stuff.”

Joxer mouthed the word ‘oh’ and nodded in understanding.

“Well, of course I did,” Eris perched on the edge of the bed, “What else could I me… oh grody! That’s something I *so* didn’t need to picture!”

“Eris, what’s going on?” Ares asked his sister quietly.

“Oh yeah, sorry, I was just getting to that,” Eris wrinkled her nose delicately, “You two reek of sex!” She waved a hand and left them clean and dressed, and in the main temple hall.

“Well, Ar, I guess I owe you an explanation,” she started.

“Uh, *yeah*,” Ares snorted inelegantly, getting a smirk from Joxer.

“Arry,” she said warningly, “Can you honestly tell me you’re sorry I did this?”

Ares looked down, “Um, no. But why did you do it?”

“I got fed up with you interfering with Strife’s life, and not doing anything about your own, my dear bro,” she smiled gently. “How long would you have kept asking Strifey to give Joxer joy, but not approached him?”

Ares flushed again and looked away, humming nervously.

“You did that? For me?” Joxer asked quietly, touching Ares’ arm. Ares nodded shyly. Joxer pulled him into a gentle hug and kissed him.

“Aw, you guys,” Eris sniffed, wiping away a stray tear. Ares looked up at her and gave her a small smile. “So, you two are in love?” Joxer and Ares nodded. “And if I give you your powers back, what are your plans?”

Ares frowned, “I, we haven’t really discussed it, sis. Would you mind giving us a moment?” Eris nodded and backed away to her throne, as the couple went to a corner.

Ares gazed at Joxer in apprehension. “Well, um, what will happen to us, if I get my powers back?” he asked quietly.

Joxer smiled at him, and gently brushed Ares’ cheek with his knuckles. “I can love you without worrying about your safety, baby,” he whispered.

“Will you come and live with me?” Ares asked nervously.

Joxer nodded, “Yeah, but I’m not going to give up my life, okay?”

“I know, I wouldn’t want you to, and I have work to do too. You’d distract me too much if you were around all the time,” Ares leered at his lover. Joxer chuckled and patted his cheek. Hand in hand, they went back to face Eris, who grinned at them.

“Well?” she asked.

“We’re going to live together,” Ares replied quietly.

Eris squealed and clapped her hands excitedly. “Oh goodie! I’m tha bomb!” She jiggled happily, much to Joxer’s and Ares’ amusement. “That’ll make it so much easier when the baby comes!”

Ares frowned, he hadn’t quite heard what she’d said. “What?” He glanced at Joxer, who shrugged.

Eris made a strange noise. “Um nothing,” she squeaked, and vanished.

Ares looked at his arm and sighed. “Eris! My powers?!” The manacle disappeared and there was a flash, just as the doors burst open and Hercules stalked in, trailed by his sluts and executioner.

“Aha!” Hercules exclaimed dramatically, “Got you now brother, I know your little secret!”

Ares frowned at him and looked at Joxer. “What’s he talking about?”

Joxer blinked and shrugged, “I have no idea.”

Hercules snarled impatiently and drew his sword. Joxer automatically moved in front of Ares protectively. “I know you’re powerless, I’ve wanted to kick your ass for the longest time!” Hercules exclaimed. “And if I have to go through *him*,” he sneered at Joxer, “To do it, so be it, it’ll be fun.”

Ares tilted his head, “Why Herkie, I’m hurt, I really am. How could you be so mean?”

Hercules snorted, “Oh please, you’re an idiot. And it’s Sovereign! Now it’s ass kicking time!”

Joxer snarled and started forward. Ares put a hand on Joxer’s shoulder. “Don’t lover, please, not today,” he whispered quietly.

Joxer looked back at him and sighed, “Okay baby, this time. But if he insults you again, I’ll kill him!”

Ares shivered, half turned on and half horrified by his lover’s words. He turned back to Hercules who was pulling a disgusted face at them.

“Euw, gross! Enough with the mushy stuff already, I wanna kick some loser ass!” Hercules started to advance.

“There’s a couple of problems with that,” Ares said quietly.

“Oh really?!” Hercules sneered.

“Yeah. Number one, I’m not powerless,” he waved a hand and froze the Duh Squad into place, “Two, it really wouldn’t do to fight in my sister’s temple, especially if you want to be able to get it up for the foreseeable future,” Hercules blanched, “And three, Joxer and I have plans, so bye!” Ares waved his hand again and there was a flash.

Hercules swung round snarling, and lashed out at the nearest person, who happened to be Iolaus. Iolaus whimpered and fled out of the temple. His fucking nancyboy brother had disappeared, leaving him looking like a fool. He was *so* gonna get his revenge!

@>*~

Strife was laid out on his bed, contemplating when his life had become *so* fucked up. After Cupid had returned from his stinky old war, he kept on pestering Strife.

'Strife, this never would have happened if you had listened to me.--Strife, I only did it to punish you.-- Strife, if you don't stop ignoring me, I'll smack you one!'

That last comment didn't go over very well with Strife.

Sighing, Strife sat up in his bed. He was now in his fourth month of pregnancy and he was *so* not looking forward to tonight. While Strife had been out on an errand for his mother, Cupid had once again tracked him down. Strife had been on the verge of disappearing when Cupid asked him something that totally blew his mind.

Cupid had wanted him, Strife, God of Happiness, to baby-sit his son Bliss, Godling of Mischief.

Hearts quailed at the thought.

Well, his did anyway.

Strife didn't have the slightest clue as to why Cupid wanted him to baby-sit his son. Strife had raised an eyebrow at Cupid and laughed in his face, but before he could actually say no to Cupid, there had been a flash of red and a small wriggling godling appeared in Cupid's arms.

Not giving Strife a chance to do or say anything, Cupid had plopped his son into Strife's arms; Strife had to quickly catch the little godling or Bliss would have ended up on the ground, and then Cupid flashed out.

Strife was majorly pissed. What did he have to do to get Cupid to understand he didn't want to help him out? Tattoo the words 'fuck off' onto his forehead?

That was earlier this morning. Right now, Ares and Joxer were watching little Bliss for him. Strife had told them that he needed to take a quick nap since he wasn't feeling well. Course, the real reason he needed sleep was the fact that his baby sucked all the life out of him. He was always *so* tired.

@>*~

Cupid sat down on his throne and took a deep breath. Maybe dumping Bliss on Strife hadn't been such a good idea after all. It had sounded like a good plan earlier when he'd first thought it up, but the look on Strife's face when he'd flashed out leaving his son behind was giving him serious doubts.

Cupid chewed on his lip thoughtfully, it was too late now anyway. Hopefully, Strife would fall in love with Bliss, and see that there was something in him that could be…be, well nice. After what he'd had to bribe Bliss with to get him to gush about him to Strife, it had better work!

Damn if Strife wasn't making life difficult for him. Strife was the one who'd wanted *him* Gods damn it! Why was *he* the one who couldn't get Strife off his mind, when Strife seemed to be perfectly happy, as long as Cupid was nowhere near him. As Psyche so loved to point out, the bitch. Gods, what he wouldn't give to be able to kill her!

@>*~

Ares swung his grandson around in his arms, until Bliss squealed in delight. Ares chuckled and launched the godling into the air, catching him on the way down. Then he threw him up again. He waited to catch Bliss, and pretended to be shocked when his cheeky grandson hovered in the air above him.

Bliss laughed happily at his grandpa, leaping into the air to try and catch him.

Joxer watched them both with a fond smile. Ares was so good with kids, it was obvious he loved them, he had so many of his own. Joxer's face fell, that was the one problem. It hadn't come up yet, but he knew Ares wanted more kids, and Joxer would love to be the one to have kids with Ares. But he knew that at some point he would have to accept Ares being with someone else, if only briefly.

"Oh Gods!" Ares stopped jumping suddenly, looking decidedly pale.

"Ares?" Joxer hurried over to his lover, "What is it?" He reached out to take Bliss, who looked like he was starting to get upset, into his arms. Then he gently patted Ares' back. Ares made a strangled noise, clapped his hands over his mouth and vanished.

Joxer frowned in confusion and worry. "Eris?!" he yelled.

There was a flash of pink petals and golden sparkles and his lover's sister appeared. "What's up, Sweetcheeks?"

"Take Bliss, there's something wrong with Ares. Can you transport me to him?" Joxer said hurriedly, handing her the godling.

"Um, yeah, okay, but why's Bliss here?" Eris asked in confusion.

"I dunno, Strife was looking after him, but he's in bed again. Is he okay? He seems to be tired a lot," Joxer said quietly.

"I don't know, he says he's fine. Oh, Joxer, tell Ares to check himself, okay?" she gave him a tiny smile. He nodded and she flashed him away to where Ares was. She felt a little guilty that she hadn't actually told them yet, but she'd been putting it off, what with something being wrong with Strife. She was worried, but he insisted everything was fine.

@>*~

"Ares? Love?" Joxer heard a retching noise and hurried into the bathroom, to find his lover heaving over the toilet bowl. "Oh Gods, Ares, what is it?" He gently pulled Ares' hair back and stroked his forehead.

"I…don't know," Ares gasped. He sat back carefully. "I feel so grody."

"Eris said you should check yourself, what does that mean?" Joxer asked, gently pulling Ares into a hug.

"It means I should use my powers to check out my body and…oh Gods!" Ares exclaimed.

"What? What's wrong?!" Joxer was seriously worried.

Ares' eyes widened. How was he going to break something like this to his lover? He had been working his way up to telling Joxer that male Gods could bear children, and to ask him if he would ever consider having children with him. But now it seemed they didn't have a choice.

"Ares!" Joxer lightly gripped Ares' chin and lifted his head so that he could look into his eyes, "Please, what is it?"

"Mprgnt," Ares mumbled.

"What?!" Joxer snapped in frustration and worry.

Ares flinched. "I'm *pregnant*!" he yelled defensively, before flashing away.

"Damn it, love, stop doing that!" Joxer sighed at empty space. Then Ares' words hit him. "Pregnant?!" he squeaked. He sat down quickly. Pregnant? Ares, was pregnant?! How? Joxer blinked. Ares was having his baby! Ares was having *his* baby! A slow smile spread over his face.

Damn, now he had to find his lover again. He knew Ares would be hiding, thinking he'd be mad. Well, it shouldn't be too hard. There were only a couple of places Ares went when he was upset. Joxer ducked into the bedroom and checked the small hidden window seat. Ares wasn't there, which left the garden.

Joxer ran through the corridors of the temple and outside, slipping through the hidden door in the walled garden. He smiled softly when he saw Ares sitting on the swing, until he realized the Love God was crying.

Joxer walked over and wrapped his arms around him. "Baby?" he whispered, "Why are you upset?"

Ares sniffed and looked up, trying to gauge his lover's mood. "Why aren't you? I didn't tell you I could get pregnant, aren't you mad?"

Joxer shook his head. "I know you would have asked me first, so I know you didn't do it deliberately. Anyway, I was just wishing we could have kids together, love. I'm happy."

"Really?" Ares whispered in a tiny, hopeful voice.

"Yeah, I am," Joxer kissed Ares gently.

Ares clutched him and kissed back happily. Joxer knelt down and pulled Ares off the swing into his arms. Gently he undid his Godly lover's leather vest and put his hand on Ares' stomach.

"Our baby," Joxer said wonderingly. Ares smiled, happy tears stinging his eyes. At the back of his mind, he did wonder how he'd gotten pregnant in the first place, as a God had to actively desire it for it to happen. He made a mental note to have a word with Eris, but for now he was happy, both at being pregnant and at Joxer's reaction.

Joxer started to caress the still extremely taut, muscular stomach of his lover, sliding his hand slowly up to smooth pecs, fingers tracing the outlines of each muscle. Ares sighed softly, arching into the too gentle touch. Joxer made a light growling noise in the back of his throat and leaned close to cup Ares' face and kiss him, gentleness disappearing, as his tongue sought urgent entry.

Ares pulled back, "Lover?"

Joxer pushed Ares back, and the Love God waved his hand to produce a blanket under them. Joxer slipped off Ares' vest and crawled over his body. Ares parted his legs and pulled Joxer down on top of him, moaning happily at the contact of their groins.

Joxer thrust hard against him and his hands slid down to cup his ass. Ares threw his head back, exposing his neck and Joxer bent down to nibble.

"Mmm, lover," Ares gasped.

"Clothes, baby," Joxer said quietly, his need for his lover to be naked overwhelming him. Ares flashed their clothes away, groaning when Joxer's cock slid against his. Joxer gave him a passionate kiss, then lifted up. "Turn over, baby." Ares grinned and rolled over, getting onto his knees. "Oh yeah," Joxer groaned, sliding his hand down his lover's smooth, firm ass, "You are gorgeous, my God," he whispered reverently.

Ares sighed, "Love me, Joxer, please."

"Every chance I get, baby," Joxer whispered, slipping his finger into Ares' already oil slick passage.

"Oh!" Ares groaned, pushing back against the exploring digit. "More!" he whispered. Joxer thrust three fingers roughly inside him, reaching deep. "Yes! Lover, yes!" Ares gasped. Joxer rubbed his lover's sweet spot firmly, until he could feel Ares shuddering. Then he quickly withdrew his fingers, ignoring Ares' disappointed moan.

He lined himself up and pushed his aching cock inside Ares with one hard stroke. "Oh God, my love, you feel so good, always so good!" Joxer groaned at the tight, slick heat of Ares' ass. Ares just moaned and thrust back against him. Joxer gripped his hips tightly and held him in place.

"Hey, no fair," Ares pouted.

"You'll like what I have in mind, baby," Joxer grinned. "Now, sit up, good, lean over the swing."

Ares squirmed and Joxer moaned. He pushed Ares' back and his lover swung forward slightly, then swung back, impaling himself deeper on Joxer's cock.

"Oh Gods, Jox!" Ares gasped. Joxer groaned slightly, and pushed Ares again. As Ares swung back and forth on Joxer's cock, he turned the tables by swinging faster. Joxer lost control and grabbed Ares' hips with a yelp, plunging harder into his lover's perfect ass.

"Mmm, yeah, fuck me, lover," Ares panted. Joxer reached round their bodies to grasp his erection. Ares gasped and jerked. Joxer took a tight grip, working Ares' cock in counter swing.

"Oh Gods, oh Gods," Ares chanted blissfully. He shuddered, leaning further over the swing, so that Joxer's cock grazed his pleasure spot with each stroke. With a happy squeal, he came in short jerks, his ass tightening round Joxer's cock.

"Yes! Ares, so good!" Joxer jerked hard into him, filling his ass with warmth. Joxer flopped over his Godly lover and they swung slowly until Joxer's cock slipped from Ares' body.

Joxer pulled Ares back down to the blanket and hugged him close. "How far along are you," he asked after a few minutes.

"About two months," Ares whispered quietly.

"Two months?" Joxer raised an eyebrow in surprise, "Eris wouldn't have something to do with this would she?"

"That's what I figured," Ares replied, "Male Gods getting pregnant is usually a very proactive thing and I was going to talk to you about it eventually…" he trailed off.

"Baby, I told you it's okay, I want kids with you," Joxer hugged him tighter and Ares sighed happily.

"I love you, Joxie."

"I love you too, Ares."

@>*~
Strife woke up from his nap still feeling run-down and tired, but he made himself get out of bed. After all, *he* was the one who was supposed to be taking care of Bliss, *not* his uncle.

Materializing a pot of cool water, Strife splashed some onto his face, trying to wake up completely. He then produced a towel to dry off. Finished with that, he turned to glance into his mirror. He didn't look too bad, but he had looked better.

With a long sigh, Strife opened the door and walked out. Normally, he would have just flashed out, but he didn't really feel up to doing so right now.

Strife stopped suddenly and blinked his eyes in surprise. His mother was currently sitting on the sofa, playing with Bliss. Raising a questioning eyebrow, he slowly walked over towards his mother. "Hey, mom. Why are you watching Bliss? I thought Unc and Joxer were?"

Eris looked up at her son and smiled. "They were, but uh, Ares got sick and Joxie left with him."

Strife blinked. "Unc got sick? Is he okay? Should we call Hermes to check him out?"

"No, no. He's not *sick*, sick. He's uh, well, he's pregnant," Eris replied sheepishly.

"Huh?"

Eris sighed and looked straight into her son's eyes. "I said he's pregnant."

Strife blinked and sat down next to his mother. "That's, that's, wow. So, how far along do you think he is?"

"About two months."

"Ah." Taking Bliss from his mother, Strife asked, "So, how'd it happen, besides the obvious?"

Eris had the grace to blush. "Well, remember when I had you spy on them when they were getting it on in my temple?" At Strife's nod, she continued. "I, uh, sort of placed a spell on Ares."

"Mom, you *didn't*?" Strife gasped. He never thought his mother could be so devious and secretive. Cupid would be proud. He suddenly frowned. Right now wasn't the time to think about him.

Missing the frown on her son's face, Eris went on. "Yup. I just wanted the two of them to be happy. If I hadn't of pushed them into this, it probably would've taken till Joxer was old and grey before they made the decision on their own. They're still feeling their way through their relationship."

"I understand, but I'd go and hide if I were you. I have this feeling Joxer and Unc will find out it was you and come looking for blood, so to speak." Strife let loose a couple of giggles at his mother's horrified look.

Eris playfully punched his arm. "Hey! No laughing at your mother." Strife snorted and continued to giggle his ass off. Bliss looked on with a confused expression, then just giggled along with his cousin. "Oh great, now you've gotten him started," Eris sighed in mock defeat.

"Sorry, but it *is* funny. Anyway, I've got Bliss for the rest of the night, so I'll be in my room if anyone needs me," Strife said as he stood Bliss up onto the floor and got up himself. As he began to make his way towards his room, he was stopped by his mother calling for him.

"Strife, are you okay? Joxer told me you were tired earlier today."

Uh oh!

Strife turned back towards his mother. "Yeah, Mom. I'm perfectly fine. Really. I just need to remember to stop going to bed so late at night."

Eris raised an eyebrow. "You absolutely sure? You've been tired an awful lot these last few months."

"Yeah, I'm sure," Strife replied with a strained smile. Taking hold of Bliss' hand, he led the both of them to his room.

When Strife and Bliss were out of sight, Eris hummed to herself. There was something definitely up with her little one and she was determined to find out what. But first, she had to worry about Ares and Joxer. She had some major explaining to do.

@>*~

Ares sighed blissfully, gently letting his fingers trail over Joxer’s chest. He didn’t want to move but he knew Joxer wanted to talk to Eris, so eventually he sat up and waved a hand to clean and clothe them. Joxer smiled up at him.

“Let’s go find your sister then, baby,” Joxer stood up and hauled Ares to his feet and off balance into his arms for another kiss. Ares chuckled and Joxer pulled back to stare at him with a mix of confusion and amusement. “What?”

“You’re a big softie, you know that?” Ares whispered.

Joxer grinned at his lover, “Yeah, just don’t tell anyone.”

Ares snickered, “Course not, stud. Wouldn’t want to ruin your rep now would I?”

Joxer raised an eyebrow at him and snorted, “Sure, whatever.”

“Joxer,” Ares pouted at his lover. No, he didn’t like the fact that Joxer was a warrior and went around fighting, and he definitely didn’t like Joxer leaving him to do it either. But he’d promised not to try and change him, Tartarus; he didn’t really even want to! But Joxer seemed to think that every time he mentioned it he *was* trying to change him. He crossed his arms over his chest and was about to flash out, when Joxer caught his arm.

“Sorry,” Joxer whispered. Ares continued to pout and held himself stiffly away from his lover. Joxer sighed and pulled him into a hug. “Honestly, hon, I’m sorry. I just, I worry sometimes you know.”

Ares melted, “Well, don’t lover, please. Yes, I get scared sometimes, but I love *you*. The way you are.” He snuggled into Joxer’s embrace.

Joxer smiled, “Love you too, baby.” Ares smiled happily and Joxer breathed a sigh of relief, crisis over. At least he had an idea of why Ares was more emotional lately. “Let’s go find Eris, hmm?”

Ares nodded. “I think I’d rather walk though,” he grimaced slightly, the last transport had made him feel icky and he hated that.

“You okay, Ares?” Joxer frowned in concern.

“At the moment, yes,” Ares smiled reassuringly. Joxer patted his hand then led him out of the garden and back towards the temple.

@>*~

“Ah, sis,” Ares smirked at Eris’ panicked expression. Joxer smiled maliciously.

She cast around her for an escape route, and settled for flashing away, only to discover she couldn’t. “Uh oh.”

“Yes, that might be an understatement, young lady,” Ares managed to stifle a giggle at her expression. The only time he ever called her ‘young lady’ was when he was really, really mad, which of course was almost never. He was sure she remembered last time though, when he’d shorn most of her hair off and enchanted the mirrors so she didn’t know. The reaction of her worshippers and then Eris herself when she finally realized, had been a laugh riot!

He wasn’t really mad, but he did want to punish her a little for not discussing his and Joxer’s future with them before interfering.

Eris paled under her makeup and she cleared her throat, “Um, hi bro?” she started tentatively.

Joxer frowned at her, “Explain, now.”

Ares sighed and shook his head, straight and to the point, but where was the fun in that. “Ya know, lover, I was getting there,” he whispered.

“Oh,” Joxer raised an eyebrow Ares, “Well, you know, not being a mind reader and all…”

Ares half pouted, half grinned in a manner Joxer generally found irresistible. It didn’t fail him this time either, Ares found himself dragged into a passionate embrace.

Eris watched the pair; with a tiny sigh at the power they gave her from their love, and snuck towards the door. “Eeep!” she squeaked, coming to a sudden halt due to the daggers now sticking out of the door frame in front of her. She stared at them and promptly fainted.

Ares blinked at Joxer and put his hands on his hips, “Overkill much?!”

Joxer shrugged nonchalantly, “One, I wouldn’t hurt her. Two, even in the unlikely event that I’d actually hit her, I wouldn’t have hurt her anyway. And three, consider it my own way of punishing her a little.” He stared at Ares, and slowly moistened his lips.

Ares couldn’t help the small shiver that traveled down his spine and spread quickly to his groin. He pressed himself up against his lover, but stopped at a small groan.

Eris lifted her head in shock. “I can’t believe you left me on the floor!” she exclaimed.

Joxer snorted at her and took a tight grip of Ares’ ass so he couldn’t move. “Just think yourself lucky we’re both happy about this,” he growled.

Eris dragged herself to her feet and quickly tidied herself. “Really?” she asked with a tiny, hopeful smile.

Ares relented and nodded with a smile. “Just, how did you do it?”

Eris sighed, “It was a combination of spells. I made you fertile and I activated your desire to have children, which you have to admit, is never very far from the surface.”

Ares nodded, “True. But I really think you should have talked to us, why in daddy’s name didn’t you?”

“I just got caught up in the whole getting you back for Strife thing I had going. I knew how much you wanted to be with Joxer, and I knew secretly you wanted his kids. Being the one to get you there seemed a good idea at the time,” Eris sighed quietly. “Sort of one-upmanship I guess.”

Ares sniffed, “Well I still say my Cupie and your Strifey make a perfect couple.”

Eris stiffened slightly. “Really? Well, Strife still won’t go near Cupid and he still won’t say why, or why he seems so out of it all the time. Hardly a successful pairing!”

Ares raised an eyebrow at his sister, “Oh is that so?! Which is why Strife is babysitting Bliss is it?”

Joxer closed his eyes for a second, if he didn’t do something quickly this would rapidly degenerate into a ‘who set up the best couple’ contest. He tugged on Ares’ ass, which he still had a firm grip of, and ground his groin against his ever-ready lover’s. Ares moaned, distracted immediately, and thrust back.

“Um, guys,” Eris waved her hand to remind them of her presence. Not that she minded at all, but Joxer had a weird thing about privacy.

Ares grinned at her then flashed them away to their bed.

@>*~

Strife had finally gotten Bliss to sleep, and he was exhausted. The kid never stopped moving, never stopped talking. He didn’t even know when Cupid was supposed to be coming to get him. How long did he have to listen to Bliss going on and on about what a great daddy his daddy was?

Strife had been torn between laughing or crying at first. Apparently, the father of his baby was a perfect dad, how ironic. But eventually, he’d actually come close to shouting at the Godling as he continued to wax enthusiastic about his father.

His nerves were shot to pieces and he was closer to tears than anything else at the moment. He collapsed onto his bed and buried his face, covering his head with the duvet. He let the tears come, trying to silence the sobs in the depths of his pillow. His whole body jerked and his chest hurt as he tried to suppress them. In the end, he raised a sound proof shield round himself and let himself cry until he couldn’t cry anymore.

How in Hephaestus’ name had it happened in the first place? He kept asking himself that question. Yes, Gods could get pregnant, but very rare. Not many Gods wanted to put themselves through bearing their own children; it was a proactive thing. Had he really wanted Cupid’s child that much? Had his heart and body really wanted it that much, that they’d overridden his mind?

It was the only explanation he could come up with, apart from Cupid putting a spell on him, which had made him laugh, till he cried the first time he’d thought of it. So *not* gonna happen! Strife sighed heavily. With his last dregs of energy, he removed the shield and reinforced his glamour before his exhaustion took over and the welcome blackness of sleep consumed him.

@>*~


Once again, Cupid found himself standing outside the doors to the House of Love. He vaguely wondered why he didn't just flash in. Probably because he may flash in and see his father in the throes of passion with his mortal. Major ick there. Seeing your father getting boinked wasn't something anyone wanted to witness.

He raised his hand to knock when the door suddenly flung open. Cupid blinked at the scowl on his Aunt's normally pleasant face. "How'd you know I was here?"

Eris sighed and gave him a look that said very clearly 'Now, I know you're not that dumb'. "I'm psychic. How'd you think, moron. Same way as last time."

"Oh." Cupid shifted from one foot to the other. "Uh, I came to pick Bliss up. May I come in?" Eh, so he was pretending to be polite. Tartarus, after what he had done to Strife, he didn't want his Aunt pissed at him over being rude. It was going to be bad enough if she ever found out.

Eris sighed and stepped out of Cupid's way. "They're in his bedchamber. You *do* remember where it's at, don't you?"

Cupid had to physically hold back his temper at the snarky way his Aunt was talking to him. Closing his eyes for a moment while counting to ten, he opened them and smiled as sweetly as was possible for him. "Yes, I do believe I remember the way." With that, he headed off towards Strife's room.

@>*~

Strife was laying on his bed, listening to the soft little snores Bliss was making when a knock on his door startled him. Sitting up in bed, he softly called out to the person on the other side of his door to come in. He didn't want to wake Bliss up. That boy was a right gabber.

Cupid opened the door at the barely audible summons. The first thing he saw was his son curled up on a little bed, thumb in mouth, snoring away. Cupid smiled briefly at the sight. He may be a hard ass ninety-nine percent of the time, but when it came to his son, that last one percent was put to good use.

A throat clearing startled Cupid out of his musings. Looking towards the bed, Cupid was taken aback by the once again blank, expressionless face of his cousin. Hadn't Strife forgiven him yet? Shit, it'd been four months since that day in his temple. "About time you came to get him. I don't know what you said to him, but he wouldn't quit talking about you."

Cupid schooled his features and held his temper back by a thread. "I had a war going on that wasn't supposed to, thanks to my ex. So, I had to spend most of the day dealing with it and her." Cupid hoped to Tartarus Strife wouldn't pick up on his bold faced lie.

"Yeah, nice to know. Well, there he is. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out," Strife said as he laid back down and turned his back to Cupid. Go away. Why couldn't Cupid just go away and leave him be?

Cupid blinked at Strife's back. He was not only pissed by Strife's attitude towards him, but confused as well. He had thought for sure Strife would have forgiven him. Strife being the God of Happiness and shit. Growling low in his throat, Cupid scooped up Bliss, glared daggers at the back of Strife's head and flashed out in a burst of red sparkles.

Sensing that Cupid and his offspring had left, Strife turned over onto his back and sighed heavily. That had been hard, pretending he didn't give a shit about Cupid. He had no choice though. The longer he was in Cupid's company, the harder it was for him to keep his secret from him. And right now was not the time for him to have to be dealing with even more stress.

Sighing in frustration, Strife closed his eyes and once again fell asleep.

@>*~

"Grody, grody, gro-*dy*!" Ares wiped his mouth and blinked back stinging tears.

Joxer grimaced sympathetically. "You okay, baby?"

"No," Ares groaned, leaning back against his lover.

"Maybe Hermes can help?" Joxer asked hopefully. Blood, violence and death were not a problem for him; seeing his Godly lover so sick was quite another thing. Of course, flashing out of the main hall to their room probably hadn't been a good idea, but they'd both forgotten in their aroused state.

"Oh, Gods!" Ares closed his eyes and sighed.

"What, baby?" Joxer asked in concern.

"I just thought, I'm going to have to tell Dite," Ares pouted. His sister was a big old bossy boots and he tried to avoid her where possible. He was sure it was her fault Cupid was such a meany. "In theory, we're supposed to get her permission. Oooh, hehe," a positive thought occurred to him. "Eris is going to get in sooo much trouble." He giggled delightedly.

Joxer shook his head in bemusement. "What I don't get is why you had kids with her, if you don't like her."

Ares blinked at him. "Because she makes beautiful babies of course. Lover, I've never been with a man I wanted kids with before, so that meant being with Goddesses or women who wanted to have mine."

"Of which there were plenty, I'm sure," Joxer commented dryly, not exactly jealous; he knew that Ares adored children.

Ares grinned. "Well, yeah," he twisted in Joxer's arms and nuzzled his lover's neck. "I am pretty sexy ya know." Joxer groaned, his pants suddenly becoming a little tight. Ares grinned wider and licked Joxer's ear. "You want to do me, lover?"

"Damn!" Joxer exclaimed. They were already half undressed and he slipped his hands round to Ares' chest to pinch his nipples. Ares squealed appreciatively and wriggled his ass against Joxer's groin, quickly getting rid of their constrictive pants. "Too sexy," Joxer grunted, pushing Ares up onto his hands and knees.

He slipped a finger into the ready oiled passage and pushed in deeply. Ares swayed, moaning happily, pushing back for more. Joxer quickly introduced a second finger, his need returning with a vengeance. Figuring they had sex often enough that two fingers would do, he quickly knelt up and slid his cock smoothly into Ares.

Ares rocked forward. "Uh oh," he whispered.

Joxer sighed at the tight, heat of his lover and pushed into Ares again. Then, to his utter shock, Ares sat up and pushed him away. "What…?" At the sound of retching, Joxer grimaced and crawled over to his lover to gently stroke his back. He willed his erection to go away to no avail and sighed. "You are definitely going to see Hermes!"

"Pig," Ares muttered between bouts of heaving.

"Sorry," Joxer whispered. He stroked Ares' hair away from his face and cuddled up behind the shuddering body of his lover, holding him until the retching finally eased.

Ares tried not to frown as he sat back up and leaned against his lover again. "This is not fun."

"I've noticed," Joxer nodded his agreement. "Come on, baby." He helped Ares to his feet and helped him over to the bed, which they'd never quite reached. Gently, he eased his lover under the bedclothes and tucked him in. He leaned over and kissed Ares softly. "I'm going to find Eris, *she* can tell Aphrodite the news, then I'm going to fetch Hermes, okay?"

Ares nodded forlornly, looking for all the world like a lost puppy. Joxer kissed him again and stroked his cheek gently. "I'll be back soon and I'll give you a cuddle. Okay, baby?"

Ares sighed and nodded. "Love you, Joxer."

"Love you, Ares," Joxer smiled. As he walked out of the room, he shook his head. He could just imagine his brothers' reactions if they ever saw him with Ares. But he couldn't help it; his lover just brought his protective, romantic side to the fore, not to mention his libido. In the next room, he quickly pulled on some clothes and then went in search of Eris.

@>*~

Cupid reappeared in his temple, in his son's room and despite his anger, placed Bliss in his bed with the utmost gentleness. He sat down and stared at his baby boy, who was still fast asleep. Carefully, he reached out and stroked the blonde curls, sighing quietly as his anger faded and was replaced by an emotion he couldn't quite place, but knew he didn't like.

He frowned and pulled out a dagger and flashed in a piece of wood to start carving a new toy for Bliss, hoping to take his mind off his sucky day and Strife's continuing bad attitude. Quickly and efficiently he carved a warrior to go with Bliss' growing collection, then started on another bit of wood. When he looked down at the second piece again, he realized to his annoyance that he'd carved out Strife's name.

"Fucking Tartarus!" he hissed, jumping to his feet. He started pacing in agitation. What the fuck was wrong with him?! How could he let his freak ass cousin influence him like this? The only person allowed to make him feel, feel…ah shit just *feel*; was Bliss. The God of War did *not* go sentimental and soft over the fucking God of Happiness for fuck's sake!

"Daddy?" Bliss yawned and rubbed his eyes tiredly.

Cupid stopped pacing and hurried over to the bed. "Hey kiddo, what are you doing awake?"

Bliss sniffed and pouted. "You're noisy." He blinked and looked round. "Where's Stwifey?"

"We're home sweetheart," Cupid pointed out.

"Oh, 'kay, daddy," Bliss snuggled back under his covers, yawning again.

Cupid stared for a moment, but then couldn't quite resist. "Bliss, did you have fun with Strife?"

Bliss made a noise. "When he wasn't all poorly. But Gwandpa was funny," Bliss paused and frowned. "'Cept when he got poorly too. Auntie Eris gave me candy," Bliss grinned widely.

Cupid frowned, torn between annoyance and worry. Annoyance at the fact that Strife seemed to have actually spent very little time with Bliss and worried because he was ill. He sat down.

"Strife and Grandpa were ill?" he asked. But Bliss was asleep again and didn't answer. Cupid bit his lip, wondering if he should maybe take Bliss to see Hermes in case there was something going round at the Love Temple.

He wandered out of Bliss' room, at this rate he'd just keep disturbing his son, and headed towards his own, somehow managing to resist destroying every statue in the hallway as he passed them. Staring at his door, he grimaced, eyes darkening angrily. "Damn him!" Cupid did an about face and flung a fireball at the nearest ornament. "I need a fuck." Without further ado, he flashed down to one of his temples and grabbed the first priest he found.

@>*~

"Oh, Eris."

Eris tensed nervously. She didn't trust Joxer's light tone. "Joxer? Weren't you and Arry doing the nasty?"

Joxer's eyes narrowed. "Ares got a little sick, *twice*."

Eris couldn't quite hold back a snort of laughter, which she quickly regretted when she suddenly found herself in a strong chokehold. She flashed herself away from Joxer. "Hey! Sheesh, I'm sorry, okay?!"

Joxer smiled grimly. "How would you like to make amends?"

"Uh, okay, sure," Eris said cautiously.

"Good. After you send me to Hermes, you can go and tell Aphrodite why it is Ares is pregnant without permission." Joxer smirked at Eris' expression.

"Ah," Eris whispered faintly. "Oh no, please don't make me." Joxer just stared at her. "You're going to make me, aren't you?" she sighed. Joxer nodded. Eris sighed resignedly. "Okay."

"Good. Oh and make sure you ask Zeus for extra ambrosia for Ares," he added.

Eris blinked in shock. "How did you…?"

Joxer raised an eyebrow. "Just do it."

Nike flashed in. "Did someone call me?" she asked.

"Uh, no dear." Eris rolled her eyes as Nike shrugged and flashed out again.

Joxer frowned and shook his head. "Gods," he muttered. He looked at Eris who seemed slightly dazed and snapped his fingers in front of her face. "Eris, Hermes, now!"

Eris made a rude noise, but flashed him away before he could react. "Gods, I hope Hermes can help, I'm not sure I can deal with a sexually frustrated Joxer," she sighed. Eris took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and transported herself to her sister's temple.

@>*~



Eris reappeared inside of Aphrodite's temple. She drew her lips into a slight pout. Aphrodite's temple was done up in soft browns and creams. Scrolls were lined up neatly on shelves and on her desk. Eris couldn't understand why no one but her, liked pinked.

Shrugging her shoulders, she called out her sister's name. She waited for a few minutes, but no one answered. Pursing her lips, she zoomed in on her sister's life force and found her out in her garden. With a sigh, Eris flashed out of the temple and reappeared next to Aphrodite.

Aphrodite was seated on a wicker sofa, adorned with cushions also done in browns and creams. When Aphrodite sensed Eris appear next to her, she put down the scroll she was reading and looked up at Eris. "What can I do for you, Eris?"

Eris began to jiggle nervously, almost falling out of her barely there dress. "I'm here on business, kinda."

"What sort of business?" Aphrodite asked as she leveled her entire gaze onto her sister.

"Um, well, I..." Eris wasn't sure she could do it. She thought real hard about saying the heck with it and returning to the temple, but she knew Joxer wouldn't be too thrilled with that.

Aphrodite raised an elegant eyebrow at Eris. "Look, if you're just going to stand there stammering, could you do it elsewhere? I'm in the middle of going over my notes for the next three months of births."

Now, Eris didn't just jiggle, she fidgeted. "Dite, there's something I need to tell you." Oh, now she got Aphrodite's full attention. Eris really didn't want to do this. When Aphrodite gestured for her to continue, Eris swallowed suddenly and sighed. "There's a, a baby on it's way here soon."

"Excuse me?" Surely she didn't hear that correctly. She knew about *all* the babies that were on their way. "Eris, I'm not sure if you're playing a game with me or not, but I know about *all* the babies that have been conceived and when they are due."

"You wouldn't about this one," Eris muttered, looking down at her hands. Oh, great. Now, her hands were all sweaty.

Aphrodite blinked her eyes and stared at her sister. Raising an eyebrow, Aphrodite got up and faced Eris. "Unless I'm mistaken, *you're* not the one pregnant here. So, who is? And why don't I know?"

"Well," Eris began, continuing to fuss with her hands. "You see it's like this. Ares hooked up with Joxie; they began to uh, mess with each other, and I placed a spell on Ares making him unconsciously want a baby with Joxie. So now, Ares' two months pregnant and Joxie sent me here to tell you, so they wouldn't get into trouble." Eris finished, shaking like a leaf. She knew Aphrodite wouldn't get physical with her, but she wasn't looking forward to what Aphrodite might do to her.

Aphrodite crossed her arms and glared at Eris. She was right, Ares wouldn't get into trouble since it was basically against his will. Even though deep down she knew he loved children and probably didn't mind being with child. Sighing, Aphrodite walked up to Eris and grabbed her by her arm. "Come on, Eris. I need to go see Ares and you're coming with me."

Yay. Eris thought as the two of them disappeared in a flash of blue sparkles.

@>*~

Strife sat on his bed, contemplating life in general. What had he done to the Fates for them to screw his life up? He sighed heavily as he got out of bed. His life had been so much easier and happier before he went to visit Cupid that night he was raped.

Checking himself in his mirror, Strife reinforced his glamour and took a deep breath. He wanted to go see his mother privately for a bit. He felt bad for acting so strange around his mother, but she kept asking him if he was well or if he wanted a hug. He sighed once again. He hadn't gotten a proper hug in months. He could hide his appearance within the glamour, but he couldn't hide his actual girth. Not that he was that big, mind you, but with his physique, his belly was protruding quite a bit.

With one last glimpse in his mirror, Strife opened his door and walked out.

@>*~

Hermes glanced up from his research when a strange man appeared suddenly in his temple. Frowning, he peered at the stranger. "Excuse me? What do you think…oh wait you're Ares' new toy, aren't you?"

Joxer snarled at him. "Watch your mouth, medicine man."

"Hmm," Hermes smirked. "Yes, I can see why Ares likes *you*. Never could work out his taste." Hermes found himself embedded with a dagger and flinched in pain. "Damn it!" He pulled the dagger from his shoulder and healed the hole. "What the fuck did you go and do that for?" he growled, wishing he hadn't taken a vow to only heal and never harm.

"To get your attention!" Joxer snapped. "As it happens, this is a serious relationship and we are now expecting a child. Now I…"

"What?!" Hermes exclaimed. "Aphrodite hasn't told me *anything* about this!"

"Probably because she doesn't know. Eris is with her now, explaining exactly how it happened," Joxer raised an eyebrow.

Hermes smirked suddenly. "Sounds very interesting. So, why are you here?"

Joxer flushed lightly. "Well, Ares has started getting sick, and as he's two months along, it might be an idea if you check him anyway."

"Sure," Hermes nodded. "Aphrodite's going to be pissed about this. You do know you and Ares are going to end up hitched?" Hermes smirked to himself, fully expecting the young mortal to react in fear and panic.

Joxer blinked. Marry Ares? A soft smile spread across his face. "Oh," he whispered. Joxer shook himself when he realized Hermes was staring at him strangely. "What?!" he snapped, slightly embarrassed.

"Uh, nothing, nothing at all," Hermes raised his eyebrows and blinked. He'd been pretty surprised by the mortal's reaction. Ares usually went for the wham, bam, thank you God kind, who always treated him badly and broke his heart. Maybe this one wasn't so bad after all. "Shall we go?"

Joxer nodded and took Hermes' proffered hand so the God could transport them back to his lover. The transport disoriented him a little as he was used to the more gentle transports of his lover and his lover's sister. But when his eyes focused again, he hurried over to the bed, where Ares was staring at him. His cheeks were tear stained and his eyes red.

"Baby?" he whispered, climbing up onto the bed and sliding behind his lover to hold him gently. "What's wrong?"

Ares smiled weakly. "Had a moment of panic, Joxie, thought you weren't coming back."

"Aw, baby," Joxer stroked his arms. "I'll always come back to you, always." Ares sniffed and smiled up at him. Joxer was unable to resist and kiss. Which got deeper and more passionate until Hermes cleared his throat loudly. Joxer pulled back and glowered at the God of Medicine.

"You'd better be able to do something for the sickness," he growled.

Hermes ignored him. "Hey, Ar, how are you feeling?"

Ares shrugged. "Okay, except for the icky nausea and vomiting. I *really* hate throwing up, Herm, you know that."

"Yeah, I know," Hermes smiled sympathetically. He sat on the edge of the bed. "Let's have a look-see then." Hermes frowned a little in concentration, then smiled broadly. "Everything looks good, Ares, nothing to worry about."

Ares beamed at him. "Great. But what about the sickness? It's already interfered with our sex life!"

"Baby!" Joxer exclaimed, thoroughly embarrassed and discomfited by Hermes' knowing smirk.

"Sorry, Jox, but I don't want that to happen again," Ares blinked mournfully at his lover.

Joxer sighed, "I know."

Hermes snapped his fingers, producing several packages. "Okay, chamomile and limeflower tea, take it three times a day, it'll help with the nausea and help to prevent any blood pressure and swelling problems. This is ginger, you can chew on a bit if and when you feel sick. Also peppermint and spearmint massage oil, feet only please! It will also help with nausea, but use it sparingly." He glanced between the couple. "Okay?"

Before either of them could reply, Aphrodite and Eris appeared in the room. Aphrodite had a hand on Eris' shoulder and Eris looked like a kid who'd just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

"Ah, Ares," Aphrodite approached the bed, nodding at Hermes, but barely glancing at Joxer. "How are you brother?"

Ares smiled broadly. "Are you kidding? I'm having my very own baby with the man I love, what could be better?" Joxer grinned and hugged him.

Aphrodite arched an elegant eyebrow. "You love this mortal?"

Joxer frowned at her, but Ares patted his arm gently. "Yes I do, sister dear." Politeness was usually the best policy with her. Just once though Ares wished she would loosen up a little. Maybe if she'd stayed with Hephy instead of marrying their dad. Ares couldn't help the tiny shudder at the thought.

"You won't mind getting married then?" Aphrodite continued. "You know the rules."

"Yes, I know. But I," Ares paused and bit his lip, looking a little distressed again.

"What, baby?" Joxer asked softly.

"Well, I just," Ares looked away. "It's not your fault this happen, you, you shouldn't be forced to abide by the law."

"What law?" Joxer asked.

"Male Gods must gain permission and be married in order to conceive a child of their own. It is to encourage proper respect for childbirth," Aphrodite explained. "While I realize this occurred without your knowledge, I'm afraid I must insist that Ares is married. If not to you, then someone responsible…"

"Uh, uh, no! Ares marries me, or no one!" Joxer exclaimed forcefully.

Ares took a deep breath. "Are, are you sure?" he asked nervously.

"Of course I'm sure, baby, I love you. I want to be with you forever, why do you still doubt me?" Joxer sighed.

"Probably his lousy taste in men," Cupid growled, appearing suddenly in the room.

"Cupie!" Ares grinned. "How are you? How's Bliss? Why are you here? Have you heard the news?"

"Would you shut up?!" Cupid snapped his fingers and sat down heavily in the chair that appeared behind him. "I'm here because Hermes is here. After Bliss told me both you *and* Strife were ill, I thought I'd better make sure Bliss isn't going to come down with anything. What news anyway?"

"I'm pregnant!" Ares glowed with happiness.

Cupid raised an eyebrow. "You're having a mortal's brat?"

Ares' face fell and Joxer glared at the War God. "Don't be such a fucking prick, Cupid!" he growled. Cupid leapt to his feet, snarling angrily. How dare his father's little fuck-toy snap at him?!

"Enough!" Aphrodite snapped. "Don't even think about pissing me off, Cupid, I'm not in the mood. It's bad enough that I have an unplanned Godly pregnancy to deal with. I also have to worry about the wedding and making sure Ares gets enough ambrosia to make the child a full God and get Zeus' permission to make…uh, what's your name?"

"Joxer," Joxer said quietly.

"Joxer made immortal," Aphrodite finished. "You will not kill him and leave your sibling fatherless. Do you understand me?!"

Cupid pouted sullenly. "Yes, mother." He looked at the couple on the bed again. "So, I guess you weren't really ill then?"

Ares shook his head. "Morning sickness."

"So, what's up with Strife then?" Cupid tried to sound nonchalant.

Eris glared at him. "He's just very tired at the moment, he has a lot of work on," she said defensively. "And you dumping your kid on him, did not help!"

"Hey!" Cupid growled. "I didn't *dump* Bliss. I needed a babysitter and I only leave my boy with people I trust, okay?!"

"Hey, mom, what's going…oh, uh, hi," Strife had wandered into the room, stopping abruptly at the crowd. Especially when he saw Aphrodite. Then he spotted Cupid and froze. Cupid stared at him and he shifted uncomfortably.

"Sweetie!" Eris bounced over to greet him. He just managed to turn his belly away from her before she gave him an awkward hug. "Aphrodite was just telling Joxie about the rules of Male God pregnancy."

Strife blanched. "Oh," he squeaked. He took a hasty breath and tried to calm himself. "You," Strife's voice squeaked again, so he cleared his throat. "You and Jox getting hitched then, Unc?"

Ares smiled, a combination of stunned happiness and pride. "Yeah, we are."

"Cool," Strife smiled, genuinely happy for his uncle. "I uh, guess I'll be going then, got work to do and stuff." He sidled towards the door, anxious to get away from, not only Cupid, but Aphrodite, who was already frowning at him.

"Shall I come with you, sweetie?" Eris asked.

"Oh no, don't think I've forgotten about you," Aphrodite pointed at Eris. "You have some explaining to do and a lot of making up to do."

While Aphrodite was distracted by his mother, Strife quickly slipped back out of the room. Cupid frowned; he wanted to follow his cousin, but after his attitude last night, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to control himself. The thing that annoyed him about that was, he wasn't sure if that necessarily meant his temper.

Eris sighed. Making up to Aphrodite was probably going to mean helping her with all her paperwork. How one Goddess could burden herself with so much unnecessary work was quite beyond her.

"Well," Joxer cleared his throat loudly. "Is there anything else? Or can we have some privacy?"

Cupid looked up, startled, he'd been so lost in thought, he'd forgotten he was still there. He sneered at the couple on the bed and flashed out without a word.

"That boy," Aphrodite shook her head. "No manners."

Ares snorted, but wisely refrained from commenting, he didn't want to risk getting on his sister's bad side.

"Well now, Hermes, have you anything to add?" Aphrodite continued.

Hermes shook his head. "No, that's it for now. I'll want to see you again in a couple of weeks, Ares, and we'll get you started on the ambrosia straight away."

Ares nodded and grinned as Hermes waved and left the room.

"Do *you* want to tell father, or shall I?" Aphrodite asked.

Ares shrugged. "You can. I want some time with my Joxie." Ares wiggled his hips and Joxer groaned loudly.

Aphrodite stiffened and her eyes narrowed. "A little consideration wouldn't go amiss, *Ares*!"

Ares resisted rolling his eyes. "Sorry, Dite," he said meekly.

"Come, Eris. You can help me plan this wedding," Aphrodite nodded and put her hand back on Eris' shoulder. Eris stared at Ares in a panic before the two Goddesses disappeared.

Ares sighed and wiggled his hips again. "Alone at last, lover."

Joxer twisted Ares round and stared at him seriously. "Ares, you do get that I love you, right?"

Ares closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest. "Yeah, I think I do. I just never had that before, not like this, not like it is with you. I guess I was just waiting for you to get bored and move on."

"Never going to happen, baby," Joxer whispered, lifting Ares' chin. "I love you, forever."

Ares opened his eyes and smiled, seeing the truth in his lover's gaze. He leaned forward and gently kissed Joxer. "Love you."

@>*~


Aphrodite reappeared in Zeus' study with a squirming Eris by her side. Aphrodite turned to her sister and gave Eris her version of a scowl. "Eris, quit that! You should have thought all about the consequences before casting your little spell," Aphrodite scolded Eris, who cast her eyes down to the floor with a pout firmly on her lips. "Now, head up and look presentable. I'll call for Zeus."

Aphrodite closed her eyes and mentally summoned Zeus. She wasn't as unkempt as the rest of her relatives, who thought it was cool to yell for someone's attention. In a blaze of blue sparkles, Zeus appeared.

Taking in his Queen and his daughter, Zeus smiled. "Yes, Aphrodite. You called for me?"

"Yes, Zeus. Eris here has something to say to you," Aphrodite replied as she pushed Eris in front of her. Eris smiled weakly and cleared her throat.

For the next ten minutes, Eris recounted everything she had told Aphrodite earlier about Ares and Joxer. Along with their happiness at soon being married to each other. Zeus' facial features continuously shifted as the story unfolded for him. As soon as Eris was done, she bowed her head, waiting for the explosion she was sure would follow.

Zeus blinked his eyes when his daughter had finished with her recap of what happened earlier. He smiled inwardly at Eris' submissive stance. If she thought he'd harm even a hair on her pretty little head, she was sorely mistaken. Now, he wasn't very happy about her butting in on her brother's life, but he knew how his oldest son felt about children. Not only that, but Zeus was happy Ares finally found someone who wasn't just another one night stand.

Zeus was brought out of his thoughts by his Queen's voice. "Sorry, my dear. What did you say?"

Aphrodite forced down the urge to roll her eyes. "I said, what should we do?"

"Have a wedding, what else?" He smiled brightly. Suddenly, he turned to Eris. "You, young lady, will be punished for interfering with not only Ares' life, but Aphrodite's godhead."

Eris sighed heavily. "Yes, father."

Zeus shook his head and turned back to Aphrodite. "Let's get this wedding planned and done. I should think three months would be a good amount of time to do so. Don't you think, Aphrodite?"

Aphrodite nodded her head. "Sounds good. It'll give me time to prepare everything and work on the baby's godhead."

"Good, good. Get on that right away, my Queen." Aphrodite bowed her head slightly and disappeared in a muted sparkle of green light. Once Aphrodite disappeared, Zeus turned back to his daughter. "Let's see, what shall your punishment be?" He asked, scratching at his beard in thought.

Gods, don't let it be mucking out Demeter's stables. Eris shivered just thinking about that.

Zeus finally smiled. He had the perfect punishment for Eris. "Eris, I hereby charge you with helping your Aunt Demeter out with her stables," Zeus announced, much to Eris' horror. Seeing the horrified look cross Eris' face, Zeus took pity on her. "But not until after your brother's wedding. Once your brother marries his mortal, you are to go straight to Demeter and begin working for her for a period no less then six moons..." Zeus never finished due to the fact that his daughter had fainted dead away. "Tsk, love gods. She's lucky I was in a happy mood."

@>*~

"Time to get up, time to get up!"

Strife watched in bemusement as the whirlwind otherwise known as his mother, fly into his room, draw his curtains, kiss his cheek and fly out again. He yawned and rubbed his eyes tiredly. While he hated sleeping on his side, he didn't have much choice with the size of his belly now. Being seven months pregnant was no joke.

Thankfully, the last three months had been so completely busy and full and everyone had been so preoccupied by Ares' pregnancy and wedding preparations, he'd been able to fade into the background a bit. Which was a good thing, because he really needed to avoid Aphrodite as much as possible.

So, if he wasn't sleeping, he was working which helped him to avoid Cupid too. He was torn between relief and slight disappointment that Cupid seemed to have given up trying to make things up with him. But then, there had been some massive campaign or other. Even Joxer had been involved for a month or so, much to Ares' distress. But then he had been fighting the Sovereign, so that made up for it to a certain extent in Ares' eyes.

Especially as, since their last encounter, Hercules had been spreading nasty rumors about the God of Love. Strife rubbed his bump absentmindedly, grinning a little when he felt the baby shift. He'd pretty much gotten used to being pregnant and was quite looking forward to being a father. And looking forward to being able to see his feet, sleep on his front, not need the bathroom every five minutes, and have normal food again.

"Strife! Time to get up!" Eris poked her head in the door and glared at her son in exasperation. Strife frowned and then it dawned on him. Ares was getting married! Today!

"I'm up, I'm up!" he replied hurriedly, hoping she would leave again so he could lever himself up off the bed. Eris grinned at him and rushed off.

As Strife went through the lengthy procedure of getting himself out of bed, he pondered the wedding. This was going to be a big test. Just the simple fact of keeping his increasingly large belly from being bumped into was going to take some interesting maneuvering. Hopefully, Aphrodite was going to be distracted enough that he wouldn't have to worry about her at all.

It had been pretty funny, to him anyway, how progressively more stressed she'd been getting the closer it got to the wedding. After all, it's wasn't as if she'd never done this before. Of course the last marriage she'd personally conducted hadn't exactly been successful. Damn! He *so* didn't need to be thinking about seeing Cupid right now.

Strife eased himself off the bed and flashed on the loose tunic and pants he now favored before reinforcing his glamour and trying to disguise his waddling gait as he headed out into the chaos.

@>*~

Cupid stood in front of the mirror and glowered, before changing his clothes yet again. He was alone, but it didn't make him feel any less humiliated that he was taking so much care with his appearance.

"You look good, what's the occasion?" Psyche flashed into the room and Cupid swung round to glare at her.

"The wedding's today, or had you forgotten?" he snapped.

"You're going?" She looked surprised.

"Everyone's going."

Psyche smirked. "I know, I just thought you might have persuaded your mother to let you out of it."

"Why? He *is* my father after all," Cupid continued to glare, waiting for her to say whatever it was she'd obviously come to say.

"Strife will be there," she said smoothly, her smirk growing.

Cupid stiffened. "Yes, I expect he will. What of it?" he managed to ask casually.

"Oh, I was just under the impression you were avoiding him," Psyche chuckled.

Cupid snarled at her, "I don't give Strife enough thought to consciously avoid him.

"So you're subconsciously avoiding him then?" she snickered.

Cupid strode up to her, grabbed her collar and yanked her forward. "What is this obsession you have with Strife?" he yelled.

Psyche laughed, "I might ask you the same question."

"Not if you want to stay healthy," Cupid growled menacingly. "Now why don't you get out!"

Psyche smiled at him, not very pleasantly, and flashed away.

"Bitch!" Cupid snapped. Shaking his head to stop himself from thinking about seeing Strife again, he flashed to Bliss' room to get his son ready.

@>*~

Ares stretched luxuriously and reached out for Joxer, before belatedly remembering that Aphrodite had insisted they spend the night apart. Ares pouted. It wasn't fair, he was pregnant for Gods' sake, and it wasn't as if they hadn't slept together before.

Well, never mind, after today, Joxer would be his for all eternity and he was looking forward to it. He grinned and carefully sat up, reaching to his bedside table for his morning dose of ambrosia, grateful that their baby was going to be a full God or Goddess. Ares knew that Hermes had determined the sex of the baby already, but he wanted it to be a surprise.

Now then, the only problem he faced that morning was finding something to wear that didn't make him look like a fat pig. Ares pouted again. "Eris!" he called.

His sister flashed into the room in a shower of pink glitter. "Good morning, Ar, darling. Isn't it a lovely day?"

Ares had to laugh. "Anyone would think *you* were the one getting married."

"I can't help being excited," she grinned bouncing on the balls of her feet. "Now, what was it you wanted?"

"What am I going to wear?" Ares looked at her pleadingly.

Eris groaned. "I thought we'd been through this. Didn't we finally decide on a gold shirt and leather pants?"

Ares sighed dramatically. "But it makes my butt look big!"

Eris rolled her eyes. They'd already spent weeks going through outfits for him. "Believe me, bro, even at five months pregnant, nothing could make *your* butt look big, okay?"

"You promise?" Ares whined.

"Yes, dear," Eris nodded. "And I have it on good authority that Joxer loves you in the gold."

"Really?" Ares grinned and sighed. "How is he? Have you seen him this morning?"

"No, not yet, he's still at Hermes' place. Probably worrying about you," Eris smiled gently.

"You think?"

"I know," Eris hugged her brother gently. "It's nice those two get on so well, isn't it? Considering Joxer stabbed him the first time they met."

Ares smiled. "Well, he was somewhat preoccupied."

"True," Eris laughed. "Come on, let's get you ready. I think Dite wants to see you before the ceremony."

"'Kay."

@>*~

Hermes glanced up from his breakfast when his guest joined him. "Morning, you look…tired," Hermes frowned. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I just don't sleep well on my own," Joxer admitted quietly, sitting down with a sigh.

"I'm betting Ares is quite the snuggler," Hermes chuckled.

Joxer grinned. "Yeah, you could say that."

"Eat, you'll need your strength." Hermes indicated the food.

"Oh, I know, those, what did you call them? Hormones?" Hermes nodded. "Yeah, they're doing some interesting things to Ares' libido, and that's saying something."

Hermes smirked. "Some people have all the luck."

Joxer chuckled. "Let's just say I'm going to be glad of the immortality."

Hermes nodded. "Oh, I had a call from Aphrodite, she wants to see you before the ceremony."

"Oh?" Joxer frowned.

"Don't worry, just her little pep talk on the sanctity of marriage and all that. Though how she can talk when Zeus is off boinking Hera all the time, I have no idea," Hermes shook his head.

"Well, a marriage of convenience was her choice," Joxer shrugged.

"True, true. She should have stuck with Hephy though. Poor guy, she broke his heart marrying Zeus," Hermes pulled a face.

"Some people don't know a good thing when they've got it," Joxer commented darkly. "Just look at Cupid."

Hermes raised an eyebrow. "I've never heard anyone describe Psyche as a good thing before."

Joxer shook his head again. "Not Psyche, Strife."

"Strife?" Hermes laughed. "Cupid and Strife? You've got to be kidding me!"

Joxer shook his head again. "Nope. Ares reckons they belong together."

"Well," Hermes sat back in surprise. "That's something I'd give good ambrosia to see!"

Joxer chuckled. "Yeah."

"You ready?" Hermes asked.

"Yep, let's go, bud."

@>*~


"Aw, Daddy, do I *havta* wear this?" Bliss whined, tugging at the hem of his tunic.

Cupid frowned, looking over his choice for his son's clothes. "What's wrong with it?"

Bliss spread out his little arms and looked down. "It's white and *frilly*!"

Cupid sighed, placing a hand over his face. "It is not frilly, sweetheart." Cupid was trying to be patient with his son, but it was hard. His day hadn't exactly started off well.

"Yes it is," Bliss pouted, pulling on one of his sleeves. "I look like Uncie Deimos."

Cupid snorted at that mental picture. "Believe me, son, you don't look a *thing* like your Uncle Deimos." Bliss crossed his arms, frills hanging down to his waist and pouted at his father. Cupid sighed again and changed his son's sleeves. "There, better?"

"No," Bliss replied, still pouting. "It's still *white*!"

Cupid's left eye began to twitch. He was losing his patience with each passing minute. One look at Bliss' pouting face though and Cupid caved. When it came to his son, he'd give Bliss the world if he could. Sighing for the millionth time that day, Cupid smiled suddenly. "Okay, Bliss, how about we change it to a cream color?" He asked as he waved his hand in front of his son's tunic, changing the color.

Bliss looked down at his 'new' tunic and sighed. "Daddy, it still looks icky! I wanna wear black not some sissy color!"

"It's not icky, Bliss, please don't use the word icky!" Cupid sighed, making a mental note to talk to his father about language. "It's the color of ice cream, okay?"

Bliss looked down at his tunic and tilted his head, a small frown creasing his brow. "Oh yeah." He grinned up at his father. "Will there be ice cream at the wedding?"

"Knowing your Grandpa Ares, yes," Cupid replied, smiling to himself. He didn't like the idea of dressing in wussy ass colors either, but if his father wanted him to then he would. But he sure as shit stinks wouldn't let on how much his father's happiness meant to him.

Producing a mirror, Cupid looked himself over one last time before eyeing his son. Nodding his head, he took hold of Bliss' hand. "You ready to go, kiddo?"

Bliss looked up at his father. "Yeah. I sure hope there's cake too." Cupid rolled his eyes and shook his head, smiling before he flashed the two of them off to the wedding.

@>*~

Joxer flashed into Aphrodite's temple, compliment of Hermes helping. He swayed a bit as the last lingering effects of the transport made him dizzy. He hoped he'd get used to other gods transporting him soon. He couldn't always count on Ares and the other Love Gods to take him places.

When his head stopped feeling like it was going to take off without him, Joxer looked around the empty room. He rolled his eyes at the 'perfection' he saw everywhere. Course, he couldn't really complain since he had actually met Aphrodite and guessed her attitude would match her decor.

Joxer wandered over to a chair and took a seat, waiting for Aphrodite to show up. A few minutes later there was a flash of light and Joxer turned his head in the direction of it to see his fiancé standing in its place. Joxer's eyes lit up when he took in the sight of Ares, dressed in a very fetching gold tunic and leather pants. He had to bite his lip from groaning out loud at the sight. Bad enough his own pants felt three sizes too small.

Ares was a little nervous when he realized Joxer was already there, for a start, he still wasn't sure about the outfit. And also, he still had the vaguest tendril of doubt that Joxer wanted to go through with it, and after a night apart, well, he'd had time to think. But then Joxer's eyes lit up and he leapt to his feet, and Ares had to grin. His lover's hard on certainly looked painful. Oh well, he was happy to help out. Joxer hurried towards him and caught him in his arms.

"Damn, I missed you last night!" Joxer exclaimed, sliding his hands down to feel his lover's body.

"Really?" Ares smiled shyly.

"Oh yeah," Joxer whispered into his ear, causing a small shiver. His own cock was rock hard with need and he pressed himself against Joxer suggestively. "Ooh, you missed me too?" Joxer leered.

Ares nodded. "I really did," he said serious for a moment.

"Yeah, baby, I know. Me too," Joxer whispered. "Kiss me."

Ares sighed and leaned in, gently brushing his lips over Joxer's, then he sucked hard on Joxer's bottom lip and plunged his tongue into his mouth, knowing that Joxer would take control of the kiss if he did that.

Joxer moaned and gripped Ares' head between his hands and forcefully took Ares' mouth, kissing him hard and deeply. He felt Ares' hands wander down to his ass and then slide round to massage his groin. Joxer thrust against Ares' touch and let one of his own hands slip down to cup Ares' balls, squeezing gently.

"Oh, lover," Ares gasped. "Please, Joxie, please touch me."

Joxer slid his hand under the tunic and eased it under Ares' pants, gasping into Ares' mouth when he felt his lover's hand squeeze into the front of his own pants and stroke his cock.

"*Ahem*!"

Joxer and Ares both jumped apart, startled, at the pissed off sounding voice. Both turned in unison to see Aphrodite glaring daggers at them. Joxer held back tossing his ever present arsenal at the uptight deity, he didn't need Ares fainting dead away in his condition. Ares blushed and stepped a bit back from Joxer, sheepishly staring at the floor. Aphrodite scowled at the two men before walking over to a chair and sitting down in it. "I hope you two know I don't take kindly to people groping each other in my office?" Aphrodite asked, staring at Ares. He should know her well enough to know she didn't approve of such behavior.

Joxer made as if to attack when a hand timidly grabbed his arm. He looked up to see Ares wide-eyed and minutely shake his head. Sighing, Joxer stepped back some and glared at his soon-to-be sister-in-law.

Aphrodite snubbed her nose at the pair and with a wave of her hand, produced two chairs in front of her. "Sit down, please."

When they finally sat down, Aphrodite leaned regally back in her chair. "You two know why I called you here, right?" Ares nodded, but Joxer shook his head no. Aphrodite sighed and rolled her eyes.

For the next half hour, Aphrodite proceeded to lecture the two men on the sanctity of marriage, which got her an aborted snort from Ares, and the importance of abstaining from premarital sex. Course, both men wondered why she even went there when Ares was already five months pregnant.

Finally, Aphrodite was done with her lecture, much to the relief of both men, and got up from her chair. "Do you two have any questions for me?" When both men shook their heads no, Aphrodite clapped her hands. "Well, then, I'll see you two at the ceremony." With that, Aphrodite flashed out in a sparkle of green.

Ares let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding once his sister had left. "Gods, that was boring!"

Joxer got up out of his seat and moved till he was in front of Ares. "Ares, how long do we have till the ceremony actually begins?"

Ares blinked his eyes and thought it over for a second. "Um, half an hour at most. Why?" Ares asked, not quite picking up on Joxer's line of questioning.

Joxer smiled brightly and took Ares by the hand. "Well, we have half an hour till we have to show up and seeing as how we had to spend a *whole* night apart..." Joxer trailed off as Ares' eyes got wide and a grin split his face.

"Let's go!" Ares cried out as he transported the both of them to his bedchambers.

@>*~

Gods and Goddesses were already appearing in the temple, so Strife quickly nabbed himself a seat. His mother was still flying round like a whirling dervish, checking all the details, *again*. Strife wondered briefly how she'd managed to persuade Aphrodite to use so much pink. It was pretty, but excessive, especially as his uncle preferred whites, creams and golds. But so far everyone was sticking to the dress code. It was interesting how many were just wearing white, nobody had been very daring with pastels.

"Strifey!"

Strife winced and groaned to himself. Steeling himself, he turned round in his chair. "Deimie, Phob," he greeted his cousins.

"You are a bad boy!" Deimos squealed. "You missed *two* magnificent orgies, how could you?"

Strife grinned at the pouting pair, "I'm sure you didn't miss me."

"Oh, Strifey, how could you say that?" Phobos exclaimed. "A touch of happiness is always welcome, as you well know."

"I've just been a bit busy with work and the wedding, you know."

"Oh, isn't it all just *so* romantic," Deimos practically swooned. "And we're going to be brothers again."

"Yeah, it's great," Strife tried to show some enthusiasm.

"It's going to be so much fun, as long as the kid doesn't turn out like Cupid, of course," Phobos shuddered.

Strife stiffened, "What's wrong with Cupid?"

"Indeed." A deep voice growled behind them.

Deimos and Phobos squeaked fearfully and slowly turned round. "Uh, nothing, bro, nothing at all. Um, see ya," Deimos whispered.

The pair hurried away, leaving Strife staring up at Cupid and Bliss. And of course, Cupid just had to look fantastic, didn't he?

"Thanks," Strife said quietly.

Cupid shrugged, "You looked like you needed rescuing. Those two could talk the hind leg off a donkey."

Strife barely held back a snort of laughter, "Yeah."

Cupid smothered a sigh. He didn't have a clue what to say. "So, uh, you look good."

Strife raised an eyebrow. "I never imagined I'd see you in cream and white," he commented.

Cupid grimaced. "Yeah, well, not my choice, was it?" he snapped defensively.

"I didn't say it was bad," Strife said quietly.

"It's icky," Bliss piped up.

"What did I say about using that word?" Cupid raised an eyebrow at his son.

Bliss wriggled in his arms and smiled down at Strife. "Daddy said they's wussy ass colors for fu…"

"Bliss!" Cupid actually flushed.

"But you did," Bliss pouted.

"I didn't think you could hear me," Cupid muttered.

Strife blinked, wondering if Cupid would go now. Hoping Cupid would go now.

"Yes, well," Cupid took a seat next to Strife. "Where is the happy couple, anyway?"

Strife sighed resignedly and shrugged. "With Aphrodite as far as I know."

"Oh Gods, not the marriage speech. I hope Joxer hasn't got his daggers handy," Cupid grimaced.

Strife turned to face forward and didn't reply. He wasn't up to small talk with anyone, let alone Cupid. Hopefully, he'd take the hint.

"Can I have ice cream now?" Bliss asked.

"Firstly, it's 'please may I have' and secondly, Grandpa has to get married first," Cupid replied.

Strife bit back a laugh. Cupid teaching Bliss manners? Not something he'd ever thought to see.

Bliss grumbled a little and Cupid put him down. "Don't run off." Bliss sat down between his father's legs, flashed in some toys and started to play war.

Aphrodite appeared in the temple and started to organize everyone and at the same time, tried to calm Eris down. Strife frowned, wondering where Ares and Joxer were. Finally, everyone was sitting and quiet and Aphrodite was standing behind the altar. Then the Queen of the Gods frowned. She glanced at Cupid and beckoned him over. Cupid sighed.

"Will you watch Bliss?" he asked Strife. Strife nodded. "What is it, mother?" Cupid whispered when he reached Aphrodite.

"Firstly, where's that hussy of an ex-wife of yours?" she asked.

Cupid glanced back at the crowd. "I don't know, I'm not her keeper," he snapped.

Aphrodite glared at him. "Anyway, your father is going to be late for his own wedding and I can't seem to reach him. Go and find him for me, and the little mortal."

Cupid glowered, "Did you make them spend the night apart?"

Aphrodite raised an eyebrow. "Of course, why?"

"Because I think I know where they are then," Cupid smirked.

Aphrodite shuddered delicately. "Well, go and get them then."

Cupid rolled his eyes. Why him? "Fine!" Cupid flashed away, taking care to arrive *outside* his father's bedroom.

@>*~



Ares and Joxer landed gently, and completely naked in their bed.

"I love your forward planning," Joxer chuckled, rolling over towards his lover.

Ares grinned, "I try." Joxer kissed him hard and he groaned. A hand slid over his rounded belly and gripped his aching cock, stroking firmly. "Mmm," he moaned. Joxer lifted his head and smiled down at him.

"Need you, Joxie," Ares whispered urgently.

Joxer let go of Ares' cock and grabbed a pillow, putting it on the bed next to him. He urged his lover to roll onto his side and Ares put the pillow under his side for support. Joxer scooted up behind him and kissed his neck. He slid his hand down Ares' side and cupped his ass, before slipping his fingers between firm cheeks. Ares' asshole was already leaking oil and he quickly pushed two fingers inside.

Ares groaned loudly and thrust back against him. Three fingers quickly stretched him and rubbed his sweet spot until he was gasping and panting, and writhing helplessly.

"Joxer," he moaned pleadingly. Joxer removed his fingers and shifted closer. He pushed his oiled cock straight into Ares' ass with one smooth stroke, sighing as the muscles gripped tightly around him. He slipped one arm under Ares' neck and clasped his lover's chest, pulling him closer. His other reached over to grasp Ares' cock again. Ares wriggled and clenched his ass hard.

Joxer gasped, "Was that a hint, baby?"

"Please," Ares begged. Joxer grinned and pulled back, thrusting back inside Ares hard. "Oh yes," Ares panted.

Joxer plunged into Ares' body hard and fast, working Ares' cock to the same rhythm. Ares twisted his head back awkwardly and Joxer claimed his lips, fucking his mouth with his tongue. As he thrust into the tight, velvet heat of his lover, Joxer raised his head a little so he could meet Ares' eyes. They watched each other, sharing deep, panting breaths as they moved against each other.

Joxer shifted up slightly and Ares squealed as every stroke scraped over his sweet spot. Heat built in his groin, diffusing over his whole body. Pleasure peaked in his cock and he came with a loud moan, the pleasure spreading through him until he was trembling all over.

"Oh, baby," Joxer panted. Ares' face when he came was the most beautiful thing in the world and Joxer plunged deep inside his lover's convulsing passage as the muscles squeezed his orgasm from him. Joxer dropped a last kiss on Ares' lips and gently withdrew so he could collapse onto his back.

Ares rolled carefully onto his back and turned his head to smile at his lover. "Love you, Joxie," he breathed.

"Love you too, baby." Joxer shifted closer and put his head on Ares' shoulder as he recovered his breath.

A loud knock on the door startled them both.

"Hey, Dad!"

Ares groaned.

"Quit fucking, Mom's getting impatient!" Cupid's voice continued.

"Fuck off, Cupid!" Joxer yelled in annoyance.

"We'll be right there," Ares said loudly, because he didn't shout.

"Good! And fuck you, Joxer!" Cupid yelled back.

Joxer growled and sat up.

"Wait till you're immortal before you piss him off, please Jox," Ares said quietly.

Joxer glanced up and kissed him gently. Then he grinned, "Let's go."

Ares smiled and nodded. Ares cleaned them up and dressed them with a thought. Then he settled himself in Joxer's arms and flashed them to Aphrodite's temple.

@>*~

Cupid reappeared on his chair and nodded at his mother. He was still fuming at Joxer. How dare the bastard tell him to fuck off?! He was lucky he was marrying his father or Cupid would have been sorely tempted to kill him.

He glanced round and to his further annoyance, spotted his ex-wife. She was dressed in black so it wasn't exactly hard to miss her. But it gave him a target for his anger and he smiled cruelly. Cupid got up and stalked over to her.

"Did you not get the dress code?" he snapped.

"Yes," she smirked. "But cream really doesn't suit me as well as it does you."

Cupid bent over her. "Change now," he growled.

"No, why should I?" she retorted.

"Because if you don't," Cupid whispered menacingly. "You'll be wearing your entrails."

"Oooh, I'm *so* scared!" she spat.

Cupid wrapped his hand around her throat and started to squeeze. She glared at him defiantly. "Don't push me, bitch!"

"What are you going to do? Tell your mommy on me?" she choked out.

Cupid snarled and tightened his grip, lifting her out of the chair.

@>*~

Ares and Joxer appeared in time to see Cupid throw Psyche across the room.

"Well, that's a good start," Joxer commented dryly.

Ares' lip trembled and tears sprang to his eyes. "They mustn't fight today," he whimpered.

"Baby, it's okay," Joxer wrapped his arms round him and glared at Aphrodite.

She rolled her eyes. "Enough!" she said quietly but forcefully.

Cupid stopped and glanced back towards the altar. Seeing his mother was furious and his father was on the verge of tears, he sighed and backed off.

"Psyche, you will please adhere to the dress code," Aphrodite continued. Psyche glowered but changed her leathers to a cream color and returned to her seat.

Joxer gently nuzzled Ares' neck. "See, all better," he whispered. Ares nodded and smiled tremulously. Joxer carefully wiped Ares' eyes and kissed his forehead. "Come on, baby, let's get married."

Ares sniffed and smiled more happily, nodding again. They turned to face Aphrodite, holding hands tightly. Aphrodite smiled somewhat patronizingly, but Joxer didn't let it get to him.

"Now then, we're here to celebrate the joining of Ares, God of Love and the mortal, Joxer," she started.

Joxer glanced round at a snort and spotted his brothers. Jett looked rapt, but Jace was sneering. Joxer glared at him and Jace smirked, making a rude gesture. Joxer was prevented from attacking his brother by Aphrodite clearing her throat loudly.

Clenching his jaw, Joxer turned his attention forward, squeezing Ares' hand apologetically.

"Yes, anyway," Aphrodite glared reprovingly. "Ares, Joxer, I'm sure you both understand the importance of marriage."

Joxer stood in silence and had to stifle several yawns as Aphrodite yammered on about marriage again. But when Ares started to sway, he got a little worried and annoyed.

"You know," he interrupted her. "I think we got all that the first time. Can you get on with it? Ares *is* pregnant you know."

Aphrodite blinked in shock, then glared at him, then the crowd when a small titter rumbled through the room.

"Ares, do you swear to love, honor and remain faithful to Joxer for all eternity?"

"I do," Ares said firmly, but quietly. He was feeling a little faint and was grateful to Joxer for hurrying his sister.

"Joxer, do you swear to love, honor and remain faithful to Ares for all eternity?"

"I do," Joxer replied, smiling at Ares.

"Raise your clasped hands."

The couple raised their hands in front of her and she tied a gold cord round their wrists. "The ties that bind, bind you for eternity," she recited. There was a flash and the cord disappeared.

"Zeus," Aphrodite turned to her husband. Zeus got up and smiled at his son and son-in-law.

"Joxer, as spouse to the God of Love and parent of the next God or Goddess to be born to Olympus, I grant you immortality."

White light surrounded Joxer for a moment, then died down.

"I pronounce you wed, you may kiss," Aphrodite finished.

Joxer grinned at his husband and tugged him gently into his arms for a soft, possessive kiss. There was a whoop and a round of applause broke out.

Ares smiled shyly and kept a tight hold of Joxer's hand as they were approached and congratulated by almost everyone in the room. When the crowd died down, Cupid took Bliss over to see his grandfather.

"Dad," Cupid nodded, "Joxer."

Joxer stared at him for a second, then nodded back.

"Can I have ice cream now, grandpa?" Bliss asked.

Ares smiled and nodded. "Course you can. Resorting to bribes, Cupie?" he said knowingly.

Cupid half shrugged. "Well, you did choose these colors." Ares chuckled.

Deimos and Phobos bounced up and kissed their father. "Congrats, dad," Deimos gushed. "Can we have an orgy at the reception?"

"Not today, sweetie, you know what your mother would say," Ares smiled. Deimos sighed dramatically.

"Private party again, Phob?" he asked.

Phobos leered, "Yes please." Deimos giggled and kissed his brother hard, much to Cupid's disgust.

"Can I join you?"

Deimos and Phobos looked round. "Jett! You know you're always welcome," Phobos grinned delightedly.

"Come on, let's go see if we can change Strife's mind. I don't think he's had sex for months," Deimos tugged at Phobos' hand.

"Congrats, bro," Jett quickly hugged and kissed Joxer, then sneakily stole a deep kiss from a surprised Ares.

"Hey!" Joxer snapped, dragging him away. Ares blinked and wiped his mouth.

"Sorry, couldn't resist, he's dreamy," Jett batted his eyelids, then hurried after Deimos and Phobos.

Cupid glared after them, Deimos' comment lodged in his brain. He wondered if he should perhaps rescue Strife again. But the whole Strife not having sex thing had somewhat shocked him. Strife wasn't exactly known for his abstinence, or rather hadn't been, before…

"Shit," he muttered and headed in Strife's direction, ignoring Bliss' giggle about bad words.

Joxer pulled Ares close and kissed him. "So, how long do we have to be at this reception before we can sneak away?" he whispered.

"Ooh," Ares giggled. "Not long, lover."

"Good," Joxer nibbled a delicate earlobe.

"So, brother." Joxer tensed and turned to face Jace. "Married, huh? To a *Love* God?" Jace raised an eyebrow.

"Don't even think about starting, Jace," Joxer growled. Ares blinked and slipped behind Joxer warily.

"Just wondering how he tricked you into it. Or did you do it for the immortality gig?" Jace smirked at his brother. "I'd have chosen a better God myself."

Joxer stiffened. "That's enough, Jace," he hissed. "You know perfectly well I've always loved him. Just because you don't know the meaning of the word."

"Oh please, love *him*? He's a pansy assed, simpering little…"

Joxer smashed his brother in the face, sending him crashing to the floor. "You never insult him, you bastard. Understand?" A dagger struck him in the chest and he winced.

"Joxie!" Ares gasped in concern.

"It's okay, baby." Joxer pulled the dagger out and quickly flung it back at his brother, pinning him to the ground through his shoulder. "Hermes," Joxer called his friend.

Hermes hurried over, raising his eyebrows in surprise.

"Will you get rid of this piece of shit and heal him?" Joxer asked quietly. Hermes nodded wordlessly.

Joxer pulled Ares away. "I'm sorry, baby. I don't even know why he was here," he whispered, rubbing Ares' back.

"It's okay," Ares said quietly, trying not to be upset. "Why was he so mean?"

"He's just like that I'm afraid," Joxer sighed. "You, you didn't believe what he said, did you?" he asked hesitantly.

Ares stared at Joxer in disbelief. "Of course not."

Joxer smiled. "Good. I love you, Ares."

Ares grinned happily. "I love you too, Joxer."

@>*~



Cupid made his way through the throng of well wishers, scanning the area for any sign of Strife. He sighed in relief when he found his cousin still seated in his chair. Pushing his way past relatives, Cupid stopped a few feet away from Strife. He crinkled his eyebrows in curiosity when he saw Strife shake his head 'no' at something Deimos was saying.

Taking a deep breath, Cupid walked up to his brother. "If I were you, I'd piss off before I found myself thrown across the room," he growled, eliciting a squeak of horror from his two wussy brothers. Once Deimos and Phobos left, Cupid sat down in his same seat from earlier.

"Thanks," Strife said, smiling slightly. Deimos and Phobos were still trying to get him to participate in their orgy. Before everything with Cupid had happened, he would have been the first one in line to join them. But besides being seven months pregnant, he really wasn't in the mood to screw anyone.

Cupid sighed heavily, he had no idea what to say to Strife. He wanted to ask his cousin why he wasn't out screwing anything with a pulse, but he held back. Maybe Strife had been more traumatized emotionally by what Cupid had done than he had thought. He hoped not. Cupid wasn't full of the happy, squishy emotions like his cousin was, but he knew it was his fault.

Before Cupid could open his mouth to say anything, Strife interrupted him. "It looks like the crowd has dwindled down some." Cupid turned his attention from Strife back to where his father and Joxer were conferring with his Aunt Eris. Cupid turned his attention back onto Strife when he felt Strife get up from his chair. Cupid crinkled his eyebrows briefly in puzzlement as he watched his cousin awkwardly stand up.

"Hey, thanks again, Cupe. I'm going to go see Unc and Joxer now." With that, Strife turned towards his left and walked away from Cupid and down the aisle towards the happy couple.

Cupid blinked his eyes at the way Strife had basically just blown him off. Putting his hands to his face, Cupid shook his head. "Way to go, Cupid," he muttered disparingly.

@>*~

Two months later...

Strife eased himself down into a chair while his mother was distracted. It was all he could do not to grunt with the effort. "That's great, Mom," he smiled.

"Isn't it?" Eris beamed. "And to think I was scared of them when I started!" "Well, they are pretty big," Strife commented. Who knew his mother would fall for Demeter's horses?

"Big softies is what they are. Although don't tell anyone, I don't think Demeter wants anyone to know that," Eris chuckled.

"Don't worry," Strife smiled tightly. I've got no one to tell, he thought to himself.

"It's going to be a long day though. I've had to put some things off, so I've got a lot of catching up to do," Eris sighed.

Strife nodded, "I've only got a few things to do today, really basic, thankfully."

"All right for some," Eris put her hands on her hips and stared at her son penetratingly. "This experiment of yours, how long is it going to last?"

Strife blanched, "Experiment?"

"The whole glamour thing," Eris waved a hand vaguely. "It just feels a little weird, you know?"

"Don't worry, Mom, not too much longer. I think it just might work," Strife said quietly.

"Oh, that's good," Eris sat down next to Strife. "I suppose I'd better go." She leaned over and gave Strife a kiss on the cheek.

"See you later, Mom," Strife breathed a sigh of relief.

It took him three attempts to stand up, but he got there, and he walked slowly back to his room. He was conserving as much energy as possible; he was going to need it pretty soon. Strife sighed, he really wasn't looking forward to doing this on his own.

By some miracle, he'd managed to conceal the last two months of pregnancy from everyone. Avoided Cupid and his other cousins, who were *still* trying to persuade him to join their orgies. A lot of attention was focused on the now heavily pregnant Ares, thankfully. Joxer spent most of his time on Olympus at the moment; Ares' hormones were playing havoc with his self-confidence and he was extremely clingy.

Strife didn't think Joxer minded too much, Ares was still dragging him to bed every five minutes. Strife couldn't quite see it himself, sex had been the last thing on his mind for the last few months. But then, the situations were a little different. Perhaps if he was happily married to Cupid, he'd want sex all the time too. Cupid was certainly the only one who seemed to make him feel in the slightest bit horny. He didn't know what that said about him.

Strife sighed, he was still desperately in love with the dark War God and Cupid's attitude over the length of his pregnancy had done nothing to help. It almost seemed like Cupid might…no, stupid to even go there.

Work. Yes, he had a job to do. That would occupy him, hopefully. Strife prepared to flash down to earth when…

"Oh, Gods!" he groaned, clutching his stomach. Strife just managed to get to his bed before he collapsed. "Oh no, not *now*!"

@>*~



Strife closed his eyes as another painful contraction hit. When it passed, he maneuvered himself into a sitting position on the edge of his bed, panting for breath. He had prepared for this situation a couple of weeks earlier, but he still wasn't quite ready for the amount of pain he was currently feeling.

As Strife got closer and closer to his delivery time, he had gone down to earth; his glamour altered slightly, asking around about a midwife to deliver his baby. Normally, the male Gods were suppose to go see Aphrodite or Hermes to deliver their babies, but after spending nine months avoiding both Gods, he didn't want to suddenly spring this on them. Especially, since they'd begin asking questions he didn't have the answers to.

He had laughed himself silly the day his Uncle Ares nearly fainted when he learned that since male Gods could get pregnant, they'd also be able to deliver them too. Course, *that* wasn't what got his uncle so freaked over; it was finding out his cock would temporarily disappear to be replaced with a vagina-like opening.

Strife had found it funny at the time, but now he was a little nervous. He wasn't sure if the transformation would be gradual or immediate. Or if it would be painful or unnoticeable.

When the next contraction hit Strife, he cried out in pain. Thankful that his mother was down on earth somewhere on business and his Uncle Ares and Joxer were visiting Hermes for one of Ares' monthly check-ups.

Panting with the effort to both get up from the edge of the bed and waddle over to his closet, Strife barely got there at all as yet another sharp pain hit him, doubling him over.

Just as he was beginning to relax a bit, he suddenly gasped in surprise as he felt his pants become soaked. Looking down, his eyes widened. A puddle was collecting under and around his feet. "Shit," he mumbled, weakly waving his hand to clean up the mess.

Saying the hell with even trying to get a few of his personal belongings he had wanted to take with him, Strife flashed out of his room in a subdued shower of sparkles.

He reappeared a few feet away from the midwife's home, dropping to his knees as yet another contraction hit. Strife had barely enough time to change his glamour to that of a young woman before the midwife opened her door.

Upon seeing Strife, whom to her looked to be a young woman of twenty with long, black hair and a heavily pregnant belly, she rushed over to his side. "Dear one, what are you doing out here alone in your condition?" The midwife asked as she helped Strife get back to his feet.

Grimacing in pain, Strife smiled weakly at the midwife. "My uh, husband died during the latest war and my family is too far away for me to go to. I asked around for a suitable substitution and everyone told me about you," Strife replied, sighing in relief when he found his voice had been altered along with his outward appearance.

The midwife gently led Strife into her home, leading him into one of the rooms she used for birthing babies. As she was guiding Strife towards the bed, Strife cried out once again at the new wave of pain that flashed through his abdomen. "Has your water broken yet, child?" The midwife asked, pushing Strife onto the bed's edge.

"Yes, it has," Strife panted out as he was laid back onto the bed. The midwife moved away from Strife's side, walking over to a closet to grab a couple of pillows from within.

The midwife helped Strife sit up as she placed the pillows behind his back and head. Checking to make sure everything was positioned correctly, she moved down to the foot of the bed. The midwife then helped Strife out of his pants. "Alright, child. I'm going to check you to see how far you've opened up." With that, the midwife moved her hand to Strife's birthing canal, feeling inside.

Strife closed his eyes, and began to breathe faster and shallower as another wave of pain hit him. Finished with her examination, the midwife removed her hand and smiled up at Strife. "Good news, child. You've opened up completely. Now, on the count of ten, I want you to push as hard as you can, leaning forward if possible."

Strife nodded his head in affirmation and leaned forward, readying himself to push. As soon as the midwife called out 'ten', Strife pushed as hard as he could. "Okay, good. Now, once more and push!" Strife did as instructed, panting hard when it was time to stop for a moment.

For the next half hour, Strife continued to push until he thought he couldn't push anymore. He was sore, he was exhausted, and he was getting tired of pushing! Finally, after giving one more hard push, he felt the baby slide out. Sighing with giddy relief, he closed his eyes as the midwife went about cleaning off the baby.

His eyes popped open at the indignant wail coming from between his outstretched legs. He looked down to see the midwife smiling happily up at him. "It's a girl!" She called out, wrapping the baby up into a blanket she had procured along with the pillows.

Strife weakly accepted his daughter when the midwife handed her to him. Tears sprang to his eyes as he got his first real look at her. It was a good thing he had had the foresight to extend his glamour over her, or the midwife might have freaked at seeing the two teeny protrusions sticking out from her back.

Strife lovingly stroked a finger down the tiny cheek bone of his daughter's face. She was so beautiful to him. She had a mass of thick, fluffy brown hair, which fell over her ears and covered the back of her neck. Her eyes where a deep dark blue that Strife had heard most newborns had. As the blanket slipped a bit from around her shoulders, he could see two teeny black wings, scrunched tightly together. All in all, she was a spitting image of Strife, save the wings of course.

The midwife smiled at the sight of mother and daughter bonding together. At least, that's what *she* saw, thanks to the glamour. Getting up from the foot of the bed, the midwife smiled down at Strife. "I'll leave you two alone for awhile to get better acquainted with each other." With that, the midwife walked out of the room.

Left by himself with his daughter, Strife glanced around to make sure they were totally alone before starting the process of healing himself. It'd take a day or two for him to fully recover from the birth, so he wasn't planning on going anywhere for a bit. He made sure to produce a large satchel of money for the kind midwife; payment for helping him.

As his daughter closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, Strife smiled one last time before he too drifted off to sleep.

@>*~

Cupid pretended he didn't know Psyche was in the room, although he could hardly mistake the aura of death and the fetid stench of old sex. Moving a few scrolls around his desk, he even tried to pretend he was working and not brooding. Eventually, her eyes burning into the back of his head was too much.

"What. The. Fuck. Do you want. Bitch?" he stabbed out angrily. They'd barely spoken since his father's wedding and he'd been extremely happy with that.

Psyche raised an eyebrow and smirked at him. "Just wondering how long you're going to pretend to work, before you give up and head over to the Love Shack," she drawled, flashing in an emery board to file her nails.

Cupid's eyes narrowed. "What?!" he snapped. "Why would I go there?"

"Aw, they didn't tell you your little puppy has disappeared?" She chuckled at the expression on his face.

"Number one, what? Number two, how does it concern me in any way?" Cupid growled.

"The Love dweebs are all flustered because Eris can't find Strife," she snickered loudly.

"What is your obsession with me and Strife?!" Cupid frowned menacingly, trying not to feel worried. He didn't *get* worried!

"Oh, please. If I didn't know better I'd say you had real feelings for him, as it is, you are *far* too soft with the little freak!" she sneered at him.

Cupid bristled at her insult to Strife even more than her insult to him, which was actually quite scary for the War God. "You better leave before I really hurt you, Psycho. I'd only just gotten started at the wedding!"

"Ooh, I'm trembling," she laughed, but she still flashed out hurriedly, especially when he stood up and took a step towards her.

Damn her. Cupid threw himself back into his chair, foot tapping in agitation. She always had the ability to rile him. And now, despite himself, he was worried. Gods, how he hated all these feelings!

After a few more minutes of pretending he wasn't concerned; he shouted in annoyance, destroyed a few vases and flashed out to the Love Temple.

@>*~

The next morning Strife woke up to the sound of his daughter fussing. Lifting her onto his shoulder, Strife began to gently rub right underneath the little wings. He sighed in exasperation when his daughter went from fussing to crying. "What's wrong, sweetie?" he asked as he began to rock back and forth in bed, trying to quiet her down.

Startled, Strife looked up when he heard the midwife giggle. "She's probably hungry, child."

Strife raised an eyebrow. "Hungry?"

"Yes."

"Oh." Strife quickly glanced around the room. "What do I feed her? I don't suppose you have any milk skins lying around, do you?"

The midwife smiled good naturedly at Strife. "Well, I suppose I could go out back and get some milk from one of my goats, but *you'd* be the best thing for her right now."

Strife blinked his eyes. What was the old woman blathering about? "Um, I'm not sure I follow you."

The midwife sighed and moved closer to Strife. "What I'm talking about, child, is feeding your daughter from your breasts." Strife was about to say 'what breasts?' when he remembered at the last second that the midwife thought he was female.

Frowning, Strife gently laid his daughter onto the bed, making sure to place her on her side, so as not to harm her delicate wings. He then looked down at his chest. He felt a bit strange to even contemplate attempting what he was planning to, but he figured if he could give birth like a woman, he might be able to feed a child like one too.

Stealing himself, Strife moved a hand to his left nipple and gave it a light squeeze. He almost squeaked out in shock when he saw a yellowish liquid begin to trickle from out of his nipple. He looked up at the old woman when she let out a giggle of amusement. Strife smiled and cleared his throat before saying, "Um, if it's alright, could you leave the room while I do this?"

The midwife smiled and nodded. "Sure, no problem. Not too many women like having an audience while they feed their children. I'll be right outside if you need me." With that, the midwife moved towards the door and walked out.

Strife waited until the old woman left before picking his cranky daughter back up. Shrugging his shoulders, he positioned her close to his chest. He smiled warmly when he felt her move her head around, looking for her food. Placing a hand underneath his daughter's tiny head, he gently guided her until she found what she was looking for and latched on.

Strife let out a wince at the feel of his daughter's gums clutching onto his nipple. "I take it you're happy now?" he asked her as she continued to suck noisily. Leaning back against the pillows behind him, Strife let himself relax as his daughter ate.

@>*~



"Are you sure you're well enough to leave now, child?" The midwife asked, concern radiating from her very being.

Strife looked over his shoulder at the midwife and smiled. "Yeah, I'm sure. Don't worry about me. I have a couple of friends I can stay with for a little while until I heal completely."

The midwife frowned but acquiesced. "If you're sure..."

Strife nodded. "I'm sure."

"Well, child. Before you go I have something to give you." Before Strife could object, the midwife walked over to one of the tables next to the bed and picked up a small wrapped package. Turning to face Strife once more, she held it out to him. "This is a gift for your daughter. By the way, have you decided on a name for her yet?"

Strife held back tears as he accepted the package from the old woman. Smiling, he replied, "Yes, I have. Her name is Raven."

"Oh, what a lovely name for such a lovely child." The midwife smiled happily.

"Thank you," Strife said as he picked Raven up from off of the bed. "Oh, I almost forgot." Strife reached into his tunic and produced the satchel of money he had made earlier for the old woman.

"Oh, child. You need not pay me. It was my pleasure to help you out."

Strife shook his head. "No, please. I insist. It would make me very happy to pay you for your kindness. Besides, you could use it to get yourself a new dress."

The midwife laughed at this. "Well, thank you, child. I hope you and Raven have a good life together."

Strife smiled before going up to the midwife and hugging her. "Thank you. I wish the same for you." At that, Strife with daughter in tow, walked out of the room and out the front door. As he walked away from the house, he vowed he would make sure the midwife had as much happiness as he could give her.

@>*~

Strife continued to walk down the dirt road until he was sure he was as far enough away from the house as possible before he finally dropped his glamour. He had to stop and take a deep breath as his energy reserves slowly went back to normal. He had had the glamour over himself for so long that he almost forgot what it felt like to use his energy normally.

Strife cuddled Raven closer to his chest as she began to get fussy once again. He knew that she wasn't hungry cause he had fed her before leaving the house. He raised an amused eyebrow as a smell rose up and smacked him one. "You're a stinky little thing, aren't you?" he cooed lovingly at his daughter. Raven just laid there in her father's arms and made a questioning sound.

With a small flex of power, Strife changed his daughter's diaper. He continued to walk down the dirt road, taking in the scenery. He was invisible to mortals, so he didn't have to worry about stumbling upon them.

He wasn't sure why exactly he was just wandering around down on earth. He was sure his mother was going nuts, wondering where he was and if he was okay. But he had no idea what he was going to say or do. He couldn't very well go back to Olympus with Raven and say 'Hey, looky what followed me home'. He giggled nervously over that thought.

After a few more minutes passed, Strife straightened his shoulders and adjusted his daughter, so she'd be more comfortable. With a heavy sigh, he transported the both of them back to Olympus.

@>*~



"Eris, love, I'm sure it's nothing," Ares tried to calm his frantic sister.

"But, Arry, I was supposed to meet him, and he didn't show. And now I can't feel his energy signature anywhere! Where would he go? Why would he hide…"

"Eris! Breathe," Ares slapped her face and she gasped.

"I'm sorry, I just," she started to pace, dramatically waving her arms around. "I'm really worried, Ares, he's never done anything like this before."

Joxer watched quietly, wincing a little at the desperate tone to her voice. "Eris, I'm sure he's fine," he ventured quietly. She stared at him, lip trembling a little. "You know he's been a little quiet for a while, maybe he's just sorting himself out."

"You think?" she asked tremulously.

"I'm sure that's all it is," Ares smiled gratefully at his husband, who smiled back gently. "Come on, sis, sit and calm down, please. Strife would hate to see you in such a state."

Eris took a deep breath, "You're right, I'm sorry." She sat down with her brother and huddled close to his reassuring warmth. "What should I do?"

"He's a grown God, we should just let him be. If he's not back by tomorrow, then we'll tell Daddy," Ares said quietly. "How does that sound?"

Her breath hitched, but she nodded, "Okay, Ar, thank you."

Ares smiled and dropped a kiss on her hair. "It's okay, Eris, it'll be fine."

A flash startled them all.

"Cupie?" Ares blinked in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

"I was wondering what was up?" Cupid said flatly, trying not to let any of the annoying emotions he was feeling into his tone.

"What?" Ares looked confused.

"Well, all these negative emotions swirling around the Love Temple, I think everyone's wondering what's going on," Cupid raised an eyebrow.

"Oh dear," Ares sighed. "Strife seems to have taken a small leave of absence. There, there," he patted Eris' arm gently at her sob.

Cupid scowled. "Could you *try* making sense?! What does that mean?"

"He's missing and they can't find him," Joxer said quietly.

"Oh," Cupid sank down to the couch next to the other three. Gods damn it, he was *not* going to worry, and he definitely *wasn't* scared, but he couldn't stop his nails digging deeply into his palms from where they were clenched into fists. "So, why the worry?"

"Strife doesn't just disappear," Eris snapped. "It's not in his nature to worry people, not something you'd know anything about!"

Cupid blinked and leaned back under her vehemence. "Well, excuse me, I'm so sure. He *is* a God you know, it's not like anything can really happen to him."

"Cupid, you're not helping," Ares sighed as Eris started to cry again.

"Sorry," he muttered reluctantly.

"Excuse me, but, why are you even still here?" Joxer asked curiously.

Cupid blinked. "Um…" He never got to finish his reply as a flash of light interrupted him. Every head in the temple turned as one to see who their visitor was.

"Strife!" Eris cried out once she saw who had materialized. With tears in her eyes, she ran as fast as she could to her son. Strife had to side step quickly, or else his mother would have ran into him and squished Raven.

"Whoa! Mom, calm down. I'm fine," Strife said as Eris began checking him over for any serious damage. When she didn't find any, she smacked him one on the arm. "Ow! What was that for?"

"I will tan your behind if you ever scare me like that again!" Eris half yelled, half cried as she took a slight step back.

Ares awkwardly got up from the couch with Joxer's help and waddled his way over to his nephew and sister. "Where have you been? Your mother was worried sick about you."

"I..." Strife was interrupted by a cry from his daughter.

"Strifey, what's that?" Ares asked, crinkling his eyebrows in curiosity.

Strife smiled a bit nervously. "A baby," he replied as if that explained it all.

"Well, duh. I mean why do you have a baby with you?" Ares asked, leaning down a little to get a better view.

Strife swallowed noisily and averted his eyes. "Well, uh, you see, um..."

Cupid got up from his perch on the couch and walked over towards Strife. "Would you just spit it out already!? Shit!" he growled. He had been worried the whole time about Strife also and that had pissed him off to say the least. He did *not* like having these types of emotions and he wanted the world to feel his wrath.

Before Strife could say a word, Aphrodite suddenly appeared in a flash of green sparkles. "Would someone please care to enlighten me as to why no one told me about the new Goddess?" Aphrodite asked, glaring at everyone in the room.

"Goddess?" Eris asked in confusion. "What new Goddess?"

Aphrodite sighed and pointed towards Strife. "*That* new Goddess."

Eris turned to look at her son. "Strife?"

Strife sighed and shifted his daughter to his other arm. "Uh, Mom. Meet Raven, your...granddaughter."

"'Scuse me?" Eris squeaked, swaying a bit from the shock.

Ares didn't notice Eris was on the verge of fainting, the news had stunned him. "Granddaughter? That baby is yours?" Strife nodded.

Cupid blinked his eyes and closed his mouth; he hadn't even been aware was open. "Uh, so who's the mother?"

Strife looked over at Cupid and smiled grimly. "I am."

There was stunned silence, followed by a thump. Any further questions were momentarily stalled by Strife hurrying over to his mother's limp form.

"Mom?" Strife knelt down carefully, trying not to squish his daughter.

Cupid gaped at Strife. *Strife* was the 'mother' which made…Cupid made a quick mental calculation. Oh Gods, *he* was the father. He had to be, why else would Strife hide it?

"Fuck!" he exclaimed.

Aphrodite glared at her son. "And you feel the need to use such language, why?"

"He's uh, she's…" Cupid trailed off at an impressive glare from Strife.

Strife helped his mother gently to her feet. "Oh Gods, Strife, you were *pregnant*?! Why didn't you tell anyone?"

Strife swallowed. "Because I couldn't, I couldn't let anyone know, I…"

"But, Strife!" Eris exclaimed.

"Who's the father, Strife?" Aphrodite asked. Strife clamped his mouth shut.

"Strife, sweetie, you didn't have to hide this," Ares said quietly. "We could have helped you. How could you have borne this on your own?" He of all people knew how hard it was to be male and pregnant.

"I had to," Strife whispered.

"I'm sorry, Strife," Aphrodite said. "You know the rules. I should have been told, and you have to marry the father."

"No!" Strife hissed fiercely. "He doesn't want…"

"I will," Cupid cut in.

"What?!" Everyone in the room exclaimed loudly.

"I will marry you, Strife," Cupid said quietly.

"Who says *you're* the father?" Strife sneered. Cupid strode over to Strife and pulled down the blanket, revealing the baby Goddess' wings.

"Cupid!" Aphrodite gasped.

"No," Strife pulled away. "You have no right to her. You didn't want me and you sure as Hephaestus don't want her."

Eris straightened up and glared at Cupid. "What did you do to my son?!"

"I…" Cupid actually backed up a little under the fury of her gaze.

"Strife, the rules are clear, you and Cupid will marry now," Aphrodite stated.

"But I, he…" Strife started, but it was too late. Aphrodite grabbed their hands and wrapped a marriage cord around them. He howled in denial as it dissolved, leaving him tied to Cupid for eternity. The noise caused Raven to wake and she started to cry.

Strife glared at Aphrodite and Cupid. "What is it with your family, he rapes me and you force me to marry him?!"

"Rape?" Eris squeaked.

"You *raped* him?" Aphrodite stared at her son, astounded.

Cupid was momentarily rendered speechless.

"Cupie, how could you?" Ares gasped. He had to sit down, helped by an anxious Joxer, who glared at the War God.

Cupid clenched his jaw and threw a glare at Eris, who was about ready to throw herself on him. She backed down but her fists were clenching in fury. "Enough!" Cupid yelled.

Slowly he stepped back up to Strife. "Strife, I'm sorry, for everything," he said quietly. Strife stared at him suspiciously. "What's her name?"

"Raven," Strife said reluctantly.

"May I hold her?"

"No."

"Strife…"

"No!" Strife spat. He held his daughter close and rocked her gently. "You will *not* touch her!"

Cupid bit his lip. He had Strife, they had a baby, how in Tartarus could he ever convince Strife that he wanted them both…loved them both? It was the first time he'd really admitted it, even to himself, he loved Strife. It still rocked him, almost went against his nature, but he did. But Strife was never going to believe him.

"You!" Eris pointed at him and his mother. "Get out, before I kill you both!"

Aphrodite swallowed hard, she'd never, ever seen an expression like that on the usually placid Love Goddess' face before. She nodded and flashed away hurriedly.

Cupid took a step closer to Strife. "Strife…?"

"You heard her," Strife said in a stony voice. He moved away from Cupid, it was too hard to be so close to the man he loved, who he was now married to and know that nothing was felt in return.

Standing behind his mother, he stared at Cupid sullenly.

Cupid stared back. "I could force you to come with me, but I'm not going to. Strife, your place is with me now, but I'll wait till you're ready. Just remember that I…I'm not sorry how it turned out." He sighed and flashed out in his turn.

Strife frowned in confusion. He knew perfectly well there was nothing they could have done if Cupid had chosen to take him with him, but the last statement…what did he mean?

"Oh, Strife. Oh my baby, I'm so sorry," Eris started to cry.

"Mom, it's okay, it's okay, really." Strife blinked back his own tears. He hurried over to his uncle. "Will you take Raven?"

"Of course, sweetie," Ares smiled sadly at his nephew and took his little grand-niece into his arms carefully, cooing at her. "Isn't she beautiful?" he whispered to Joxer. Joxer nodded and smiled gently.

"Mom," Strife wrapped his mother in his arms. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I didn't know what else to do. After Cupid…I was scared and worried and I…"

"Oh, baby," Eris sobbed. "What are we going to do?"

"I'll have to go soon, you know that," Strife sighed. "Cupid may be tolerant now, though Zeus knows why, but he won't stay that way."

"No, I won't let him take you away!" Eris shook her head vigorously.

"We can't make that choice, Mom," Strife sighed.

"Excuse me?" Joxer spoke up with a frown. "What do you mean? Why can Cupid force him?"

"He's the senior God in the marriage. He has the right to expect me to defer to him in all major decisions," Strife said quietly.

"What?" Joxer blinked in shock. "Ares, you never told me that."

Ares shrugged. "Well, no, but I mean, it doesn't apply with us, you know that."

Joxer smiled. "Thanks, baby."

"I don't know what to do, Mom," Strife frowned in distress. "I…I love him, but he hates me."

"No," Ares said quietly. "He doesn't hate you, Strifey, I promise."

"But…" Strife stared at his uncle, then nodded with a sigh. "I…I guess, but I can't go there just yet."

"You don't have to, sweetie," Eris whispered. "I'm going to go to Daddy about this!"

"No, Mom," Strife said hurriedly. "It…it won't make a difference anyway. It'll be best for Raven to have two parents, and a big brother, don't you think?"

Eris pouted. "I don't know, Strife, after what he did, and Aphrodite not even asking you, I mean, it's just wrong!"

"Mom, please, leave it," Strife's breath hitched. He went and sat down with his uncle and took his daughter from him. "Hey, my sweet baby," he smiled softly, stroking her pale skin.

Eris met Ares' eyes over her son's head and she frowned worriedly. Ares smiled reassuringly.

@>*~



"Do you want me to kill him?"

Ares frowned up at his husband in utter confusion. "What? Who?"

"Cupid, of course." Joxer gently helped Ares onto their bed and spooned up behind him.

Ares laughed, "Oh, Joxie, no. That's very sweet, but unnecessary."

"I just don't like thinking that Cupid can force Strife to live with him after raping him," Joxer frowned.

"I know, it's not ideal, but it will work out," Ares said quietly, tilting his head back for a kiss.

Joxer kissed back deeply, then pulled back again, raising an eyebrow at his Godly lover. "Okay, spill it."

Ares blinked innocently. "Spill what, lover?" He leered suggestively.

"You know something," Joxer laughed.

Ares smiled. "I told you before, they're meant for each other." Joxer smiled and shook his head, leaning down for another kiss.

@>*~

Strife woke up feeling a little confused. For one, he felt pretty good, but the main thing was he was lying on his stomach. He frowned in confusion, until a tiny wail had him leaping out of the bed and over to the crib his mother had given him the night before. Staring down at his daughter, he couldn't hold back a smile that threatened to split his face in two.

"Hey, babydoll," he cooed, reaching down to pick her up, carefully adjusting her so as not to squash her wings. "How you doing this morning? You kept daddy awake *all* night, didn't you, yes."

Strife stopped and blinked, then he laughed, he'd been babbling. Shaking his head, he took Raven over to the bed and held her to his chest to see if she was hungry. Raven wobbled her head around until her mouth came into contact with Strife's nipple. Once she found what she had been looking for, she clamped onto the nipple and began to suckle.

Strife smiled down at his daughter as she fed, stroking his free hand through her soft hair. "My, you're a hungry one, aren't you?" He smiled brightly when she moved her eyes to look up at him.

Raven pulled back from Strife's nipple once she had finished nursing and cooed at her father. Strife laid a kiss on her forehead before materializing a wet rag to wipe himself off. He then placed his daughter gently over his shoulder and rubbed her back. Strife giggled slightly when she let out a massive burp. "Piggy," Strife cooed at her as he rubbed his nose along her own.

He placed Raven back in her crib and looked round his room. It was the last time he'd spend any time in it, having made the decision the night before to just do it; move to Cupid's. Better than to risk pissing Cupid off, and things getting official and public. With a wave of his hand he organized everything in his room into piles he could go through quickly, and decide what to take.

Mentally he called to Cupid, asking him to come over. There were a few things he needed to discuss with his…husband before he did move. Strife frowned at the small package sitting on top of his clothes. He picked it up and sat on the bed.

"Oh," he said quietly, remembering that the midwife had given it to him. Almost nervously, he opened it, then stared at the simple, handmade baby clothes. They were quite possibly the most beautiful and thoughtful things anyone had ever given him. Strife started to cry.

"Strife?" Cupid stared uncertainly at his husband. He hadn't known what to expect, but Strife crying over some rags wasn't it.

Strife looked up and hurriedly wiped his face. "Get away from the crib!" he snapped.

Cupid growled low in his throat before stepping away from the crib. "You know, sooner or later you're gonna have to let me see and hold my own daughter," Cupid said as he crossed his arms and stared at Strife.

Strife jumped up from the edge of the bed and glared heatedly at Cupid. "Says who, huh? I don't remember asking to be raped, and I sure as fuck don't remember asking to become pregnant either!"

"How many *fucking* times am I gonna have to say sorry!? I had told you to stay away from me, but *no*, you didn't listen. Besides, you *know* male gods can only get pregnant if they choose to. Unless I suddenly lost my mind, I don't remember wanting a child," Cupid yelled, breathing raggedly due to his anger.

Strife gaped, momentarily speechless. Balling up his fists, he stalked over to the nearest wall and punched a hole into it. "And that is *exactly* why I don't want you touching her, you bastard!" Strife yelled back. Before Cupid could think whether to reply or smack some sense into Strife, a loud wail interrupted him.

Brushing past Cupid, Strife went to the crib and picked his daughter up. "Shh. It's alright, sweetie. Sorry we woke you up," Strife cooed quietly to Raven as he gently rocked her.

Cupid stood off to the side watching as Strife tried to calm their daughter down. Resisting the urge to tear his own hair out, Cupid sighed. "As much fun as this argument was, was there a reason for calling me here?"

Strife turned to glare at Cupid. "Yes. I wanted to let you know I'm ready to live with you now. Stuff I'm taking with me is on the bed," Strife replied, turning his back to Cupid. He needed to calm himself for his daughter and looking at Cupid right now wasn't helping.

Cupid rolled his eyes and transported Strife's belongings to his temple. Letting out a deep breath, Cupid waved a hand and the three of them flashed out.

@>*~

Cupid sat on the bed watching Strife organize his stuff. Raven was asleep again, in the crib they'd brought from Strife's room. His husband had balked at the suggestion that they all share a room, so here they were in the bedroom adjacent to his.

He wasn't really sure what to say after their argument. He'd known that it was going to be difficult, but he hadn't realized just how much. Strife was so hostile. Cupid couldn't seem to talk to him without losing his temper, which obviously didn't help.

But at some point they were really going to have to talk properly, and the sooner the better. As much as it went against his nature, he did…care about Strife and wanted some kind of proper relationship with him, especially now they were married. If he'd wanted arguments and hostility all the time, he'd still be with Psyche.

Strife tried to sort through his things, but it was hard work with Cupid's eyes on him. And damn it, why was he still here at all? Strife had tried glaring at him, but Cupid had just continued staring at him. At least he had his own room. He'd almost laughed when he'd realized Cupid had transported them to his own bedroom. There was no way he could cope with that!

It was going to be a long day. Hephaestus! It was going to be a *long* eternity! Finally, he couldn't take it anymore and he turned to the silent War God.

"Look, I'd really prefer to get this done on my own, get used to being here, you know?" he snapped.

Cupid raised an eyebrow. "Are you just going to hide out in your room all the time or something?"

Flushing, Strife shook his head, even though Cupid had come uncomfortably close to the mark. "No! But I'm not going to be sticking around with you 24/7, you know."

"Well, thank the Gods for small mercies," Cupid sneered, his temper surfacing again.

Strife swallowed against his hurt. It was stupid of him to keep doing this, not that he had a choice anymore, but to be around Cupid was so hard. No matter what had happened, what had been said, he *still* loved Cupid, so much.

"Yeah, well, I'll go, but I expect you for dinner. We have to talk about this situation," Cupid sighed.

Strife nodded silently, flinching a little when Cupid brushed passed him to take a quick look in the crib.

"She's really beautiful."

Before Strife could reply, Cupid was gone and he sighed. He sat down heavily and stared into space. What were they going to talk about? Aside from the fact, Cupid obviously was less enthusiastic about the situation than he was, if that was possible.

Lying back on the bed, Strife tried to catch up on some of his lost sleep.

@>*~

Like a deadly, silent predator, Psyche crept into the dark room. Cupid and Strife should be occupied for a while. Her face screwed up at the thought. Strife *and* Cupid; *her* Cupid. That stupid Happy God was going to regret he was ever born. Coming and stealing *her* husband, her place.

Giving him a baby, when she'd refused to bear any more was the lowest, sneakiest thing he could have done. She wouldn't have expected it of Strife. But his plan had worked. Cupid had obviously been blinded by the idiot's game of playing hard to get.

Well, no more. Cupid was *hers*! No one, especially not a useless Love God was going to take him from her!

She smiled as she stared over the edge of the crib at the tiny baby. The disgusting thing even looked like Strife, except for the pair of black wings on her back, she could have almost believed that it was a trick, that Cupid hadn't cheated on her.

Well, Strife would soon learn the price of stealing from Discord.

Reaching down, Psyche gently slipped her finger between the baby's lips. Immediately, the child started to suckle and she smiled wider.

@>*~



Strife transported himself to his room with a sigh of relief, dinner had been very strained and they hadn't been able to solve anything. Every time one of them tried to speak they ended up snapping at each other until conversation had degenerated completely into tense silence.

At least Strife had the excuse of feeding his daughter in order to get away. He smiled at the thought.

"Hey, sweetie, still asleep?" he whispered, bending over the crib to stroke his daughter's hair. "Come on, babydoll, time for dinner." Strife frowned, she was so still and quiet. "Raven?" Swallowing, Strife touched her face, so soft and yet, so cold. He staggered back, falling to his knees. "No, no, no. This isn't happening! *CUPID*!"

Cupid flashed in quickly, startled by the panicked anguish in his husband's voice. "What, what is it?" he asked, ignoring for the moment a strangely out of place smell.

Strife merely pointed at the crib, unable to speak, his throat and chest constricted painfully.

Cupid bent over, and smiled at the sight of his daughter so peaceful. Then he frowned. "Raven?" He touched his daughter gently, but she didn't move. "Oh, Gods," he gasped. "*Hermes*! Get your ass in here five minutes ago!"

Strife choked and tried to get up again, but Cupid dropped down beside him and pulled him close, surprising him, even over his pain.

Hermes flashed in and immediately headed for the crib without even glancing at the two Gods on the floor. He picked Raven up carefully, his face a picture of concentration as he scanned her. Slowly he turned to the couple, tears of regret in his eyes.

"No!" Strife gasped. "Please, please, please, Hermes."

"I'm so sorry," Hermes whispered. "She's gone."

Strife felt as though his heart had shattered at the sorrowful words. He couldn't quite take it in, couldn't comprehend it. "No, no, it's not...she can't..."

"How?" Cupid growled, pulling him closer.

"She was poisoned with Hind's blood," Hermes sighed. "I'm so sorry."

Something broke inside Strife then and he dissolved, screaming and sobbing, hitting Cupid with flailing fists that needed to hurt something, someone. "No, can't, no, please," he sobbed.

"Eris!" Cupid called.

The Love Goddess flashed in. She stared in confusion. "What have you done?" she whispered in shock at the sight of her hysterical and distraught son.

"Look after him, I have something to kill," Cupid said quietly, the furious menace in his tone made her shudder. Eris hurried over and took Strife from Cupid's arms, still confused. Cupid bent over them, and took Strife's face between his hands. "Strife, I will avenge her soul, I swear."

Strife calmed long enough to stare into his husband's eyes, shivering slightly at the intensity of the emotions he could see there. He nodded and Cupid disappeared.

"Baby, what's happened?" Eris asked quietly, worriedly.

Strife's breath hitched again and pain overwhelmed him, lodging in the remains of his heart and constricting his chest so much he could barely breathe. He was vaguely aware of being moved to his bed before he blacked out.

"I'm so sorry, Eris," Hermes stared down at the unconscious God and gently held Raven's body out to her. She blinked rapidly as she took the tiny body in her arms but she couldn't prevent the tears that streamed down her face. "Oh, Gods," she whispered. She held Raven close and sat on the bed, pulling her son's head into her lap as she cried, rocking silently.

@>*~

"Mother! Grandfather! Here! *Now*!" Cupid yelled.

Zeus and Aphrodite appeared, both wearing frowns. Zeus' one of shock and bewilderment, Aphrodite's one of shock and anger.

"How dare you yell at us like that!?" Aphrodite snapped, before she got a good look at her son's expression and backed off slightly.

"I have come to demand retribution, Psyche's life is forfeit," Cupid hissed.

Aphrodite raised an eyebrow. "What did she do this time? Mess with your plans again? I hardly think that rates death, do you?"

Cupid stared at her coldly. "As you should have been able to tell, we lost a Goddess today. My daughter is dead by Psyche's hand. If you do not give me official permission, she dies anyway and I shall seek retribution against *you*."

Aphrodite gasped, coldness gripping her heart at the thought of her grandchild. "Oh, Gods," she whispered.

"Are you sure it was Psyche?" Zeus asked quietly.

"Completely," Cupid growled, his eyes darkening with fury.

"Permission is granted," Zeus nodded.

Cupid nodded and disappeared.

Zeus hugged the silent, shocked Aphrodite close as he blinked away his own tears.

@>*~



Cupid reappeared inside of Psyche's temple, ignoring the foul stench that was associated with the demented Goddess. He quickly scanned the temple for any sign of his ex wife, smiling cruelly when he finally found her. With a determined look in his eyes, he flashed out of the main room and reappeared inside of Psyche's bedroom.

Psyche felt Cupid's presence the second he entered her temple. Schooling her features, she stood up from her seat at her vanity and turned to face her ex. "Why, Cupid, I'm surprised to see you here. Finally dumped that worthless little weasel, did you?"

Cupid growled low in his throat and stalked up to Psyche. "I know it was you, you fucking bitch!"

"Me?" Psyche asked, feigning innocence. "Why, whatever do you mean?"

Cupid grabbed Psyche by the throat, lifting her up off the floor and slammed her into the nearest wall. Psyche gasped as the air was knocked out of her. "Don't play that innocent shit with me, woman. I know it was *you* who murdered my daughter and I've come to get my revenge."

Psyche squeaked out a half hearted laugh. It would have been a full blown belly laugh if not for the restriction on her airway. "Oh, please. Are you sure it was me and not that slut of a husband of yours?"

Cupid growled low in his throat before swinging Psyche off the wall and tossing her across the room like a sack of potatoes. "I've had enough of your shit, bitch, and I've come to remedy it." With that, Cupid produced a dagger, sharp enough to shave the hairs off of a fly's ass and stalked towards his ex wife.

Psyche smirked, thinking Cupid wouldn't have the balls to lay a hand on his baby's mother, until in one swift motion, Cupid sliced the blade across her throat, severing her vocal cords. Normally, Gods can heal themselves even after getting attacked by other Gods, but what Psyche failed to realize was that Cupid had had the dagger enchanted. Not even the most powerful God or Goddess on Olympus could heal from a cut from the dagger.

Psyche's eyes went wideas she clutched at her throat, gurgling on the blood seeping out. She didn't start to panic until a few minutes went by and her wound still hadn't healed itself. A grim smile broke out across Cupid's face as he watched Psyche claw at her throat. Bending down, Cupid was happy to see her cringe back in terror. "What's the matter, dearest? Having problems?" Psyche just glared at him.

"Now, as I was saying," Cupid began as he settled himself onto the floor and flung an arm around Psyche's shoulders. "You killed my daughter, my *newborn* daughter and I sought out permission from all mighty Zeus himself. So, guess what that means?" When all Psyche did was flinch away, Cupid tightened his hold on her. "Exactly. Say goodbye to your short immortal life and say hello to Uncle Hades for me." With that, Cupid took the enchanted dagger, sprinkled a tiny bit of Hind's Blood he had been saving for precisely this day and thrust it straight through one of Psyche's eyes.

Lightening crackled loudly in the distance as Psyche died violently. Normally, the other Gods and Goddesses on Olympus would have been mourning the passing of one of their own, but since they all knew who it was and what she had done, they ignored the thunder and went back to what they had been doing.

Cupid ripped the dagger from out of Psyche's limp body and wiped it on her outfit. Getting up, Cupid kicked Psyche's body once before flashing out of the temple and back home to a distraught Strife and Eris.

@>*~

Strife opened an eye. Finally, they’d left him alone. Finally, they’d stopped trying to comfort him. Comfort! How could they comfort him? How could they *ever* understand? He had nothing, he *was* nothing. His heart and soul had been ripped to shreds and there was nothing left. His husband, who he loved *so* much, hated him. And his little girl, his sweet little baby was gone, dead. No coming back for a Godling that young.

How could anyone possibly understand?

Getting out of bed, Strife made his way silently through the War Temple to Cupid’s work room. He went straight to the weapons and picked out a decorative looking dagger, then searched through Cupid’s poisons for his deadliest. Then, just as silently, he went back to his room and lay down on the bed.

Carefully and precisely, Strife carved a line down his forearms and watched blood spurt forth numbly, before pouring poison on the wounds to keep them open. Before he could drink the rest of the poison, a flash lit the room.

@>*~

Cupid was tired, but almost jubilant in a sour, bitter way. If he hadn’t known it would sicken his husband, he would have presented Strife with the murderous bitch’s heart. He transported himself home, straight to Strife, to try and show his husband that he wasn’t alone in his grief.

“Strife, she’s de…” he trailed off at the sight of Strife’s pale face staring up at him, eyes wide, open wounds soaking the sheets with blood. Cupid felt himself panic for the first time he could remember. With a running jump, he leapt onto the bed and grabbed Strife’s wrists.

“No, go away!” Strife screamed at him, trying to pull away.

“No,” Cupid shook his head and forced unpracticed healing power into his husband’s body.

“Leave me alone!” Strife struggled uselessly, Cupid was just too strong and held him down easily. “Please, I can’t, please,” he sobbed.

“Strife,” Cupid didn’t know what to say, but he couldn’t lose Strife too.

Tears blurred Strife’s eyes painfully. “Do you hate me *that* much?”

Cupid was stunned. “H-hate you? Strife, Gods, I don’t hate you.”

Strife blinked away his tears and swallowed hard. “You don’t?”

Cupid let go and sat up with a sigh. “No, Strife, I’ve never hated you exactly, and not at all for a long time.”

“C-Cupid, what do you mean?” Strife sat up too, breath hitching.

Cupid reached out hesitantly. He had no idea what to do, but he knew it was important that he had to try and show Strife how he really felt. With Raven gone, they only had each other. At least he had Bliss, but this could destroy Strife.

Gently, he cupped Strife’s cheek and the younger God gasped in shock. “Cupid?”

“Strife, I know that I’ve done everything wrong and that I’ve hurt you more than I can ever make up for,” Cupid let all his barriers down for the first time in his life and let Strife really see him. “I love you, Strife and I loved Raven and I want…Strife, please don’t leave me alone.”

Strife felt his eyes sting and tears overflowed again. “Cupe-Cupid, Gods,” he sobbed and fell forward into his husband’s arms. Cupid held tightly and finally let himself grieve for his daughter, his own tears soaking into Strife’s hair.

Strife buried his face in Cupid’s neck, almost shocked out of his tears by hearing his husband’s hitching breath. “Cupid?” he whispered. “Cupid, please.”

“What, Strife?” Cupid whispered back.

Strife looked up and wiped his eyes. “I, I need, please…love me.” He gripped Cupid’s hair and kissed him desperately. Cupid hauled Strife into his lap and clasped his husband’s face, plunging his tongue into his mouth. Strife sucked hard, making little whimpering noises in the back of his throat.

Cupid pulled back. “Shh, Strife, slow down, I don’t know if this is such a good idea.” He gently smoothed back his husband’s hair.

Strife frowned in distress. “But, I, Cupid, I need you,” he whispered. “Please, I love you.”

Cupid closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Why?”

“What?” Strife blinked.

“Why…how could you love me, Strife? After what I did, and,” Cupid sighed. “Damn it! I’m no good at this!” he pulled away and turned his head.

Strife sucked in a breath and tried to steady himself. “Don’t,” he whispered, reaching out to touch Cupid’s arm.

“Don’t what?” Cupid didn’t quite snap.

“I love you. I’ve always loved you, I can’t help it,” Strife’s breath hitched. “Please, if you really love me and Raven, then don’t shut yourself away again…” his voice broke. “I need you, can you…can you need me too?”

“Strife.” Cupid pulled the black haired God back into his arms and lay them down on the bed. Strife let himself snuggle into his husband’s strong embrace, finally taking comfort in shared love and shared grief.

@>*~

Strife wasn’t sure how he’d managed to sleep, but waking in Cupid’s arms had for a brief moment felt like an often repeated dream. Until Cupid moved and pulled him closer. The pain of loss was no less, but somehow easier to bear, knowing it was shared by someone who understood completely and Strife turned to face his husband.

Cupid let his lips turn up in a half smile and leaned forward for a gentle kiss. Strife clung on, he needed to feel loved and he parted his lips, asking silently for Cupid to press deeper. Letting himself delve into Strife’s mouth, Cupid stroked the slim back of his husband soothingly. He wasn’t used to gentle or loving, but he wanted it, and knew Strife needed it.

Their clothes vanished and Strife moved closer. Carefully, Cupid rolled him over, lying on top, framing Strife’s face with his hands. He kissed deeply, entwining his tongue with Strife’s, starting to rock slowly.

Strife whimpered quietly, hands skittering up and down strong arms and back, tugging, grasping needfully. The weight of Cupid on top of him was oddly comforting and he wrapped his legs round his hips to pull him down completely.

Cupid lifted his head and stared down into crystal blue eyes that shone just a little. “What do you need?” he whispered.

“You, please,” Strife whispered back.

After the last time, Cupid was determined to do everything right and he lifted up a little, reaching between them, sliding his fingers between firm asscheeks and rubbing gently. Oil appeared with a thought and he pressed in slowly, searching out Strife’s pleasure spot.

Moaning, Strife lifted his hips for more pressure, as the feel of Cupid inside him sent tiny shivers through his whole body. Cupid withdrew his fingers and oiled himself. Lining himself up, he met Strife’s eyes and waited.

“Please,” Strife breathed. Cupid pushed into him sweet and slow, not pausing until he filled his husband completely.

Strife’s eyelids fluttered and he reached up to pull Cupid down for another kiss. Gently exploring the warm depths of Strife’s mouth, Cupid began to move; small, slow, shallow thrusts, just enough to brush against Strife’s pleasure spot with each stroke.

It felt so good to have Cupid inside him, Strife shifted under him and rocked up to meet each thrust. It helped him to feel complete, not alone in his grief, made him feel loved and comforted. They moved together silently, Cupid actually making love for the first time in his life.

It felt amazing to him, he’d never known he could feel this way, or be this way. For Strife, he was willing, happy even, but only for Strife.

He explored Strife’s mouth with a thoroughness and with a dedication that made the younger God gasp and writhe. As need grew between them, Cupid thrust deeper, longer strokes that pushed a little harder, and he reached between them to grasp Strife’s shaft tightly, stroking to the same rhythm.

Strife whimpered again, his back arching to meet each stroke, inside and out. Slow burning pleasure diffused through his body and heat built in his groin. “Cupe, please,” he panted.

Cupid let go of some of his control, starting to move faster. His own need was approaching desperate, but he was more concerned with Strife’s needs than his own and he kept it loving and gentle, letting the burning ache in his groin grow.

Strife bucked up into Cupid’s fist and cried out as he got his release, wet heat on his belly mirroring the wet heat of tears streaking down his face, as he cried silently.

Cupid continued to thrust, a little harder, softly licking away Strife’s tears and dotting kisses on his face. Strife’s muscles clenched down on him and he gasped, hot flood of seed filling Strife. He continued to kiss his slender husband gently, before he carefully pulled out and cleaned them up with a thought.

Rolling over, Cupid pulled Strife into his arms and held him close as he continued to cry. “I will always be here for you,” Cupid whispered.

Strife clung tighter and nodded, burying his face in Cupid’s neck. “I love you, Cupid.”

@>*~



Epilogue

Two months later...

"Where's Joxer?" Ares cried out as another painful contraction hit.

Aphrodite took hold of Ares' hand and squeezed it reassuringly. "Eris is
bringing him. He'll be here as soon as possible."

"He better be," Ares growl-sobbed as yet another contraction reverberated
through the lower half of his body.

Hermes had appeared earlier when news of Ares' impedding birth filtered
through the ever present grapevine. Sitting on the bed Ares was currently
lying on, Hermes moved himself a bit closer to Ares' wide-spread legs. "Hey,
Ar, I gotta check you to see if you've dilated enough, okay?" At Ares'
slight nod, Hermes smiled briefly before moving his hand to Ares' center and
feeling his way around. After a few minutes, Hermes removed his hand and
smiled lightly at his brother. "It's time, Ares. I'm going to need you to
push for me."

"No! Joxer isn't here yet. I'm not doing this without him!" Ares yelled,
tears of pain and frustration rolling down his cheeks.

"Ares, you don't have a choice here," Hermes replied, trying very hard to
not lose his patience.

Before Ares could utter a word, there was a bright flash of light to the
side. After the sparklies and such died down, Eris stood in their place with
a haggard looking Joxer by her side. At seeing his husband lying on the bed
in pain, Joxer rushed over and not quite pushed Aphrodite aside.

"I'm here, babe," Joxer said as he brushed a stray lock of sweat slicked
hair out of Ares' face.

Ares smiled lopsidedly at Joxer before his face scrunched up in a grimace of
pain.

Hermes sighed internally at his brother's antics. Taking a deep breath to
center himself, he cleared his throat. "Okay, Ares, Joxer's here. Now, I
need you to push."

Joxer held back his glare of death at Hermes to help Ares. Ares sat forward
a bit and pushed with all his might. Finished with his initial push, Ares
slumped back to catch his breath.

Hermes checked on Ares' progress as he continued to push, giving
instructions and encouragement to keep pushing every so often. Finally,
after pushing for what seemed like an eternity, Ares pushed one last time.
Ares almost melted into a puddle of goo when he felt the squiggly sensation
of his baby finally sliding out.

The room was silent for what seemed like hours when there was a sudden ear
piercing wail from around the vicinity of Ares' wide-spread legs. Hermes
smiled brightly before announcing, "It's a girl!"

There was a cheer of happiness from everyone present in the room. Hermes
quickly and efficently cleaned off the squirming baby Goddess as she let her
unhappiness on the situation known.

Ares lay back, exhausted from his activity, smiling sleepily at his husband.
"How is she? Is she beautiful?" He asked, too tired to look himself.

Joxer leaned forward a bit to watch Hermes finishing up with cleaning their
daughter off. "Oh, Ares, she's beautiful. She looks so much like you. Thank
goodness she didn't get my nose," Joxer replied with a twinkle in his eyes.
Ares laughed tiredly at his husband's poor attempt at humor.

As soon as Hermes finished with the little Goddess, he wrapped her up in a
blanket and reached over Ares to hand him his daughter. The little Goddess
sleepily squinted up at her birth father before yawning and falling asleep
in the warmth of his embrace. Ares cuddled his tiny daughter to his chest
and absently wiped at the tears rolling down his cheeks.

Joxer leaned over his family and hugged them both, placing a kiss first on
his daughter's forehead and then a light chaste one on his husband's lips.
He pulled back a bit and leaned his head on Ares' shoulder, content to just
be close to them.

Their moment was briefly interrupted by a flash to their left. Looking up,
Joxer caught sight of his son-in-law and his husband. Joxer flashed a brief
smile their way before beckoning them to come closer to see the newest
member of the pantheon.

Cupid led Strife over to his father, wanting to take a look at his new
sibling. Cupid sat down on the edge of the bed to get a better look at the
new baby. Ares opened exhausted eyes when he felt the bed dip a little.
Seeing his son, Ares smiled and held his daughter out for Cupid to hold.
"Say hello to your new sister, Ziyal," Ares said, placing his daughter into
Cupid's outstretched hands.

Cupid looked down into the scrunched up face of his little sister and melted
into a pile of goo. Of course, he tried very hard to hide his squishy
emotions. Even though his time with Strife helped to soften him some, he was
still the gruff God of War and tried very hard to keep his reputation in
check.

Strife looked on in silence. It had been a little over two months since his
daughter died and even though he now had Cupid to lean on, the pain of what
happened was still a drain on his emotions. Absently, Strife moved a hand to
his belly, stroking it with affection. The new life currently growing within
his belly could never replace that of his first child, but hopefully it
would help with the mending and accepting process.

Strife was suddenly brought out of his thoughts as the baby in Cupid's arms
began to fuss. Screwing up some courage, Strife moved closer to the bed to
get a good look at his new cousin. She was such a tiny thing. Strife felt
tears come unbidden to his eyes as a few images of his late daughter swam
through his thoughts. Cupid looked over at his husband after handing his
sister back to his father and caught sight of Strife.

Standing up from the bed, Cupid closed the space between them, not caring
who witnessed his brief lapse into empathy, and took hold of his weeping
husband, hugging him close to his body. Cupid pulled back to look into his
husband's eyes, but Strife just smiled and pulled Cupid back into the hug.
Cupid whispered words of understanding and love into Strife ear, making the
younger God nod his head before completely pulling away. Cupid turned back
towards his father. "We're going to go now. Congradulations, dad." With
that, the two younger Gods left in a flash of sparkles.

Hermes gathered his things, bid Ares and Joxer a good day and left.
Aphrodite took her cue to leave the three alone to get better aquainted with
each other. "Well done, Ares," Aphrodite said with a smile as she too
flashed out.

Alone with their daughter, Ares removed his tunic, preparing to feed her.
Joxer cuddled closer to his husband and daughter, watching her suck greedily
at her supper. Ares turned his head from gazing down at Ziyal to look at
Joxer. "Didn't I tell you everything would work out in the end?"

Joxer leaned his head onto Ares' shoulder and smiled. "You did," Joxer
replied, placing a kiss on his husband's shoulder as he continued to watch
their daughter.

End


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