AresJoxerCupidStrife - Angel Ser-Desa


Prologue Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

(The plot bunny won't stop biting my ankles and my muse has threatened to go on strike if I don't write this in response to

Tazzy's First Paragraph challenge, so here. Enjoy and feedback would be greatly appreciated please!)

Author: Angel Ser-Desa
Title: The New King: Joxer
Rating: R/NC-17 throughout
Pairing: (main) Ares/Joxer, Cupid/Strife, mentions of others
Warnings: violence, curse words, gabby-bashing,
Summary: Ares gets turned mortal and gets amnesia. Now, it's up to the four people who hate him the
most to save him.
Disclaimer: Don't own it, never did, never will. I do own the characters I make up though.
Feedback Address: AngelSerDesa@wmconnect.com
Archive: AJCS, WWOMB,
Note: My answer to Tazzy's First Paragraph challenge.
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Prologue:

He hurt. Oh Gods, he hurt. Pain radiated through his body, blending with the ache of a stomach that has been empty for too

long. He couldn't remember the last time he ate or even slept as he pushed himself to keep going, placing one foot in front

of the other to escape the slaughter and senseless violence that had surrounded him and tried to pull him under. Barely

healed cuts and gashes were rubbed by blood soaked clothing as he moved, adding to the pain in his body. Stumbling, he barely

caught himself before he fell, and forced his weary body onward. If he fell, he wasn't going to be moving for a long time and

he wasn't safe yet. He could still hear the sounds of fighting, yelling, and dying, but he wasn't sure if it was all part of

his exhausted mind. Until he knew he was safe from the carnage, he had to keep moving.

Reaching a forests' edge, he turned to look behind him, to take one last look at the battle he could still hear. Men's

screams, their pleas for mercy, the sound of their death rattles. Wincing, he turns and heads into the forest, forcing

himself to keep moving. To keep from being found. A sudden bright light has him wincing, eyes closing of their own accord.

"Res, dear, what are you doing here?"

Opening his eyes, he stares at the young woman standing before him, knowing she looks familiar, but for the life of him, not

remember who she is. The concern in her earth-green eyes has him all but prostrating himself before her, begging for help.

"Res?" asks the woman, taking a step closer, skirting past the deer that accompanies her.

"I-Is that my name?" He asks, his body finally wearing out as he falls to his knees.

"What's the last thing you remember dear?" asks the woman, falling to her knees, uncaring of the dirt getting on her yellow

dress that falls just past her knees.

"Pain." He says, his eyes closing in remembrance. "Extreme pain."

"Zeus," says the woman coldly, her earth-green eyes suddenly cold. "All right Res, we're going to keep you safe."

"W-Who?" He asks, leaning against a nearby tree.

"Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, Iolaus, and Joxer." declares the woman. "They can protect you while I keep Zeus from finding

you."

"Who are they?" He asks, eyes wide with fear as they dart around, not wanting anything to sneak up on him.

"Joxer is your lover," soothes the woman. "He'll protect you."

"I-It's not safe." He says as the woman's deer nuzzles it's head against her side.

"Res, do you even recognize me?" wonders the woman, realizing something.

"No." He says as his stomach grumbles. He blushes but the woman only smiles.

"Where I'm taking you they'll feed you," says the woman. "As for me, I'm Gaea. Your grandmother."

"You're young." He says as it pops in his head.

"I'm a goddess," smiles Gaea before gently holding his hand. "This may make you dizzy."

"W-What'll-" He starts before they suddenly appear infront of a group of five people-three males, two females- who stare at

them, eyes wide. All five of them look familiar, especially the male with the weird helmet on his head.

"Lady Gaea," says the weird helmet male in awe.

"Joxer," smiles Gaea. "Res, this is Xena," She points to the woman with black hair dressed in a leather miniskirt outfit.

"Gabrielle," The woman in a brown skirt, green top, and boots with a staff. She also has blonde hair and blue eyes.

"Hercules," Brown hair, brown eyes, leather pants, yellow-tannish shirt. "And Iolaus." Leather pants, purple vest, shaggy

blonde hair and blue eyes.

"What's *he* doing here?" growls the man Gaea pointed out as Hercules.

"*Ares* is injured, and mortal." growls Gaea. "Don't cross me demigod. The *only* reason you're still alive is because of

Zeus' law. You have no allies on Olympus."

"Lady Gaea, what happened?" asks Joxer concerned.

"Zeus," says Gaea. "It's time Jox."

"Jox?" asks Gabrielle scathingly. He, Ares, cocks his head to one side, confused as to why he feels all this anger towards

her.

"Yes, Jox," growls Joxer towards Gabrielle. "Only my family has the right to call me that."

"I'm leaving Ares with you. He's safe here. I know that. I will return in a week to help." says Gaea before disappearing,

leaving dandelions behind. Ares stands there, a shy look on his face.

"You can sit beside me," says Joxer softly, placing a gentle hand on Ares' arm.

"Okay," says Ares softly, the fear just barely heard.

"Do you know who you are?" asks Joxer as they sit down.

"No." says Ares, all but burrowing in Joxer's side when Gabrielle and Hercules glare at him.

"You're safe," soothes Joxer.

"He's right," says Xena. "No harm will come to you here. My word."

Ares nods, feeling more comforted by Joxer's presence than by Xena's words. He then blushes as his stomach rumbles again.

"Here," says Joxer handing Ares a plate of food that appeared out of seemingly no where.

"Joxer?!" shrieks Gabrielle.

"Knew it!" crows Iolaus.

"You're a God," says Hercules flatly.

"What God are you?" wonders Xena, intrigued.

~End Prologue~




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter One:

"Joxer?!" shrieks Gabrielle.

"Knew it!" crows Iolaus.

"You're a God," says Hercules flatly.

"What God are you?" wonders Xena, intrigued.

"I cannot tell you that yet," says Joxer calmly as Ares slowly begins to eat, eyes darting towards the others every now and

then. "It's too soon."

"What can you tell us then?" asks Xena throwing a glare Gabrielle's way when she grabs her staff. Gabrielle bristles but

quiets, placing her staff back down.

"I'll be two thousand years old on the Summer Solstice," says Joxer. "And i've been Ares' husband for nearly five hundred

years."

"You'll be *how* old?!" shrieks Gabrielle, hand flying back towards her staff. Ares immediately flees behind Joxer while

Joxer rolls his eyes. Scant seconds later, Gabrielle finds herself staff-less.

"You'll get your staff back when I think you deserve it." growls Joxer. "I'm not letting you, or Hercules, hurt my beloved."

"Joxer," starts Xena.

"Jox," says Joxer as Ares peeks out from behind him, a hand holding Joxer's shirt tightly.

"Jox then," admends Xena. "Why are you hiding on Earth, as a mortal?"

"What do you know about the King of the Gods?" asks Joxer. "I mean, power-wise."

"He's the strongest of all of the Gods." declares Hercules.

"So is Ares," says Joxer softly. "Why isn't Ares king then?"

"War's evil." insists Gabrielle. "Without War, Peace would reign throughout Earth."

"No one wants to hear your self-righteous attitude little bard," sneers a woman appearing in a flash of violet roses. She has

waist length black hair and clear violet eyes. She's dressed in a purple version of Aphrodite's dresses.

"And you are?" drawls Xena.

"I am Hope, Goddess of Friendship," says the woman. "and Loyalty."

"He deserves no loyalty." growls Hercules glaring at the child-like Ares.

"Hope, why are you here?" asks Joxer. "You're suppose to be on Olympus."

"I've got scrolls for you and since Hermes is too busy playing suck-up to Zeus, I offered to charter them," says Hope sitting

down beside Joxer.

"Jox, what about Zeus and Olympus?" asks Xena, glaring when Hercules opens his mouth.

"The King of the Gods is tied into Olympus' power," says Joxer. "No one, god or mortal, knows how Olympus came into being,

but it did, and it has *tremendous* power. Ares, by himself, is nearly as powerful as Olympus itself because of all the

aggression that War generates. It's why Zeus wants him gone. If Ares *ever* becomes King, no one will be able to usurp him."

"Yeah," says Hope slowly. "You're forgetting yourself. *Your* godhood."

"No one knows I still exist," reminds Joxer. "Thus I'm not all powerful."

"Can we know his godhood?" asks Iolaus.

"Considering Gaea is finding all of the gods, immortals, and demi-gods who don't like how Zeus is ruling, yep," says Hope.

"But I got to go. Strife wants to create a bit of mischief and I can use to bring together two friends-to-be. See ya!" She

disappears in a burst of purple roses and Ares sneezes, rubbing his nose.

"Jox?" asks Iolaus.

"I'm the God of Truth and Revenge." Joxer says, his eyes narrowed.

"Then lying to us all these years goes directly against your godhood," says Hercules, surprising them all with that insight.

"I may have the Godhood of Truth, but I will lie to protect my family," says Joxer. "Keeping you four occupied kept Zeus from

overly punishing Ares for his own transgressions. Do you want more 'Res?"

"More?" asks Ares, cocking his head to one side, hesitantly holding out the empty plate.

"Joxer, can I ask you something?" wonders Iolaus.

"What?" asks Joxer as he materializes more food on Ares' plate.

"How old is Ares, mentally?" wonders Iolaus.

"Actually...I don't know," says Joxer confused. He turns to Ares. " 'Res, how old are you?"

"This many," says Ares hesitantly, holding up five fingers. "Mama told me so, before Papa hit me."

"Zeus *hit* you?" asks Xena, aghast.

"Papa don't like me," says Ares before ducking behind Joxer. "Papa here?"

"Shhh, he's not here my 'Res," soothes Joxer. "You won't have to see him for a while."

"Oday," whispers Ares peeking out from behind Joxer. Xena, Gabrielle, Iolaus, and Hercules stay quiet, just watching Joxer

interact with the mentally five-year-old Ares. Hercules is re-evaluating his judgement of Ares, realizing he *doesn't* know

what the gods do while Xena's thinking of committing the murder of her godly grandfather. Iolaus is watching Ares'

interaction with everyone, and realizes that he only truly feels safe around Joxer apparently while in his 'child' mentality.

Gabrielle's also re-evaluating her opinion of Ares, and her opinion of Joxer.

"Wait a minute," says Gabrielle. "Joxer...if you're a god...does that makes Jayce and Jett gods too?"

"Yes, it does," laughs Joxer. "Jett's the God of Assassins while Jayce is the God of Plays and Playwrights."

"Damn right," says Jett as he appears, Jayce right behind them. "So, Aunt Gaea's putting the plan into action?"

"*Aunt* Gaea?" asks Gabrielle.

"We're Titans." says Jayce. "It's easier just to call her Aunt then Grandma."

"That, and she hit you last time you called her 'grandma'," laughs Jett.

"Be nice. Who else has she rounded up?" asks Joxer as Jett sits down infront of Joxer and Jayce plops himself down beside

Ares, slowly drawing him into a tic-tac-toe game.

"Eris, Deimos, Phobos, Strife, Cupid, Aphrodite, Anteros, Hephaestus, Harmonia, Hades, Thanatos, Celeste, Persephone, and the

Muses," says Jett. "She's also trying to find the other Titans who hid instead of allowed themselves to be captured during

the War."

"W-W-Wait!" stammers Gabrielle. "Y-Y-Y-Your *titans*?!"

"Didn't we say that already?" muses Jayce as he lets Ares win the first game.

"I don't think it sunk in until now," snickers Jett. "You know she's slow."

"So, we've got 22 gods on our side so far, with only 3 of them on the Council," sighs Joxer. "Not to mention us three and

Aunt Gaea."

"I want in this if I can," says Xena quietly. "I admit I have my problems with Ares, but I can't, and won't, stand for this."

"Same here," says Iolaus. "No one deserves what Ares has gone through."

"Okay, 28 people so far, gods and demi-gods." says Joxer. "That should work...for now."

"First things first," states Jett. "We sever the ties of Zeus to Olympus. As long as he's tied to Olympus' power, we don't

stand a chance."

"Yeah, and Unk and I came up with a plan for that *years* ago." laughs Strife as he appears.

"Strife," grins Joxer. "What brings you?"

"Besides Unk's disappearance and Hera's anger at Zeus for cheating on her yet again? Nothing," smirks Strife. "Though I think

Ace and Sun-Boy are on our side now."

"Joxie, who's he?" wonders Ares as he clutches Joxer's sleeve.

"I'm Strife," says Strife squatting down infront of Ares. "God of Mischief."

"Oh. You know 'Ris?" wonders Ares.

"I know Eris," says Strife. "She's worried about you 'Res."

"Me fine." declares Ares.

"He opened up fast." blinks Iolaus.

"Ares was like this when he was little too," says Gaea from behind Hercules, causing the hero to jump. Jett and Jayce barely

stifle their laughter. "He was always the sweetest, and the shyest child I knew but if he was with someone he trusted, he

would open up. Unfortunately, when he turned seven, Zeus beat that out of him and he trusts only one person now. Joxer."

"As Truth, he can't lie and I doubt very much Hope would let Jox get away with dumping Ares," says Jayce as Strife continues

talking to Ares.

"True. Go tell everyone that in one week, we implement Jox's plan," says Gaea.

"Gotcha," says Jayce before disappearing, taking Jett with him.

"They go bye bye?" wonders Ares looking at Joxer.

"They'll be back my Ares," says Joxer with a smile.

"Oday," says Ares curling up beside Joxer, yawning.

"On that note, I think i'll go tuck Bliss in," says Strife. "I got plans for Cupe anyway."

"Take care," laughs Joxer.

"Bye bye," yawns Ares.

"Night 'Res," grins Strife before disappearing.

"I'm leaving too," says Gaea. "Joxer, this glen is protected by me and the Chaos stone. He can't get to any of you as long as

you stay here."

"Thank you Gaea," says Joxer respectfully.

"No thanks needed," says Gaea. "Ares is the only one who still comes by to see how i'm doing. It's time to see his kindness

repayed, and it's time he had someone stand up for him." She then disappears, leaving behind leaves in the color of autumn.

"Sleep," says Xena before Gabrielle or Hercules can say anything. "We need to process this and Ares needs sleep."

"He's already asleep." says Iolaus with a smile. Turning, the four see that Ares is truly asleep, laying back against Joxer's

chest while Joxer lies against a tree, his arms around Ares protectively, asleep himself. Smiling to herself, Xena gets up

and covers the sleeping duo in a blanket before lying down behind Gabrielle, falling asleep herself, an arm around

Gabrielle's waist. Hercules and Iolaus are in a similiar position like Joxer and Ares is, Hercules' arms around Iolaus

gently, wary of his own strength even in sleep.

Smiling to herself, Night cloaks the six in darkness, enlisting Dawn and Daylight's help to keep Zeus from focussing on the

six.

~*~*~*~

"It's *impossible*!" rages Zeus throwing a lightning bolt at his spy. "How can Truth and Revenge *still* be alive?! I

*ordered* you to kill him *centuries* ago!"

"Centuries ago he was, and still is, Thanatos' son!" rages Psyche. "You know as well as I do Zeus that no one touches Death's

son without punishment! Especially since he's also Apollo's son!!"

"*WHAT?!*" explodes Zeus.

"You mean you didn't *know*?!" says Psyche, her eyes wide. "Truth and Revenge is Apollo and Thanatos' son. That's why you

can't kill him. That's why he's stronger than you. Thanatos is a Titan and as the stronger god, his children take after him,

thus making Joxer, Jett, and Jayce all Titans."

"If I *knew*, I wouldn't have let Hades give Thanatos his protection when he was pregnant with them," growls Zeus.

"Yes, that's well and all," says Psyche. "But Gaea's protecting Ares now, and I am *not* crazy enough to go after her. You're

on your own from now on."

As Psyche disappears, Zeus screams his rage, causing the very earth to shake from his rage.

In her home, Gaea smiles.


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~Chapter Two~

She watches her grandparents as they sleep, protected by Gaea's powers as they're in her village. It's been nearly 2 years

since she was born, and yet she's aged to 18 years old, thanks in part to the Chaos Stone. Glancing at the sky, and seeing

Eos make her slow journey across, she kneels beside Joxer and Ares, just watching them. A sword across her throat has her

freezing in place suddenly.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" snarls her aunt Xena quietly, so she doesn't awaken Joxer or Ares.

"I am Voluptas, Goddess of Serenity and i'm here as a guide." She says. Xena looks at her, eyes narrowed before nodding.

Voluptas sighs in relief and stands, brushing dirt off her toga. Turning around, she sees Xena standing there, sword in her

hand with Iolaus, Gabrielle, and Hercules, ready to come to her aid.

"So, *hero*," sneers Voluptas, "You don't hate Ares after all, do you?"

"I never did," replies Hercules. "I was jealous as a child and my mother and Zeus fed my jealousy instead of stopping it."

"And he actually means it!" gasps Hope in mock-shock as she appears. "There's hope for him yet!"

"Behave Hope," says Joxer, startling everyone but Voluptas. They turn to see Joxer awake, Ares still sleeping in his arms.

"How's he doing?" asks Hope, concerned.

"He's happy." Voluptas says quietly. "Serene."

"And you are?" asks Joxer.

"Voluptas, Goddess of Serenity," says Voluptas. "My parents are Cupid...and Psyche."

"They're *WHO*?!" explodes Hope. Luckily, she doesn't awaken Ares.

"I am Bliss' twin sister," says Voluptas as silvery-white butterfly wings appear. "Psyche somehow got rid of me and dumped me

on Earth. Luckily, Mother Gaea found me and she's raised me."

"W-W-Wait," stammers Iolaus. "If you're Bliss' *twin* sister, how can you be 18 already?"

"The Chaos Stone," says Voluptas simply. "It helped me to grow to 18 in just two years."

"Oh." Iolaus says, stupified.

"Do you know who we are?" asks Hope.

"You are Hope, Goddess of Friendship and Loyalty, daughter of Nox," says Voluptas serenely. She turns to Joxer. "And you are

Joxer, God of Truth and Revenge, son of Thantaos and Apollo. Also, due to the fact that it's believed that Thanatos is a

Titan, you are as well, as he bore you, Jett, and Jayce."

"Who sent you?" growls Xena.

"Gaea herself," retorts Voluptas as she waves to a passing Eos.

"We really can't do anything about it anyway," shrugs Hope. "This is Gaea's Valley. Anyone fights, we become mortal for a

year and a day. Zeus agrees with it-"

"Not surprisingly," mutters Voluptas causing Hope and Joxer to smirk.

"Which is most likely why he kept trying to fight Ares in Gaea's Valley," sighs Joxer. "A year and a day without War would

turn Greece into chaos and make it dependent on Zeus."

"Which is why Ares is the only god exempt for the rule," says Voluptas. "Because Gaea knows what would happen, and she also

knows that Ares would never commit a war in areas protected by her."

"Joxie?" asks Ares, startling everyone. "Who's she?" He points to Voluptas, who smiles warmly in greeting.

"I am Voluptas, Goddess of Serenity," says Voluptas. "Gaea sent me to help."

"Gan'ma?" wonders Ares looking up at Joxer.

"Great Grandma," corrects Joxer softly.

"Gan'ma." declares Ares stubbornly, causing Hope and Voluptas to hide their smiles and Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, and Iolaus

to, again, rethink their opinions of Ares.

"Gan'ma it is." Joxer laughs. Ares giggles before cringing into Joxer as black sparkles herald the arrival of a god.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" drawls Eris, Goddess of Discord, as she appears, a smirk on her face. "It's the

Freaky Foursome, two unknown goddesses who shouldn't have their godhoods, and the moronic mortal."

"What do you want Eris?" sneers Hope as she stands infront of Joxer and Ares protectively. Voluptas just cocks her head to

one side, confused.

"None of your business, *Hope*." Eris sneers before looking at Voluptas. "And who in Hades are you?"

"I am Voluptas, Goddess of Serenity," says Voluptas. "And you would be?"

"Eris, Goddess of Discord," drawls Eris. "Sister to Ares."

"'Ris?" asks Ares turning to face her.

"Oh my gods...Ares?!" asks Eris, shock on her face. "What are you doing here?! You're suppose to be in Athens keeping Athena

from wrecking the population!"

"Joxie, what Ris talking bout?" wonders Ares confused.

"Eris, sit." Joxer says. "We need to tell you something."

"That my brother seems to suddenly have the mental capacity of a five year old?!" Eris all but yells. "That as long as he

doesn't wield the Sword of War, Zeus can take the power in less than a month?! I need to go plan for this! Strife, Deimos,

and Phobos needs to know!"

"Strife already knows." says Joxer soothingly. "He's telling everyone else. Now sit. You can help us keep Ares safe."

"And where did you pop out from?!" growls Eris turning to Voluptas. "Only Psycho has given birth in the past 20 years, and

Bliss is only 2 years old!"

"I am the twin sister of Bliss," says Voluptas calmly as she accesses her godhood to try and calm Eris down. "I am 2 years

old, but appear 18 due to the Chaos stone."

"You also act smarter than Apollo," grumbles Eris.

"She was raised by Gaea." Hope retorts. "Apollo was raised by Zeus, what do you think?"

"Apollo's been brainwashed by Psyche," says Voluptas quietly. "It's how she was able to sneak me past Hera. I must ask though

that you do not tell either Psyche or Cupid who I am. I do not want Hera thinking that Cupid knew that Psyche got rid of me

and punish him too."

"I think you should tell him, but i'll agree." Eris grumbles.

"Joxie, i'm hungry." Ares says quietly, as if expecting to get hurt.

"Oh, i'm sorry Ares!" Joxer says, aghast. "I completely forgot!"

"Here," says Hope before food appears infront of everyone, consisting of everything from biscuits to sausage and above.

There's also ambrosia for Voluptas, Eris, Joxer, Ares, and herself. "No ambrosia for the mortals...at least, not yet anyway."

"I hate the taste," grumbles Eris. "Who invented ambrosia in the first place?"

"I think it was Uranus," remarks Hope. "Or maybe Chaos itself."

"Ambrosia appeared when Chaos created the world," says Voluptas quietly as the mortals and Ares eat. "And I know we all hate

the taste, but we have to eat it." She then materalizes a bottle of honey on the table. "It usually tastes better with

honey."

"It'll taste like grass sweetened by honey." Hope states, eyeing the ambrosia warily even though she materalized it. "Remind

me why we have to take it?"

" 'To keep our form,' " says Joxer as if quoting it. " 'And to keep mortals from ever realizing that we Gods are just like

mortals if we never take it, though we have immortality.' "

"And you quoted that from who?" wonders Xena, braving the conversation between the three, obviously 'insane' goddesses.

"Zeus," says Joxer. "Who else?"

"Who else indeed." Eris mutters.

"'m done." Ares says quietly, interrupting Hope's scathing remark before she can make it.

"So am I," says Voluptas quietly. "Mother Gaea would like to know if you would like another guide besides myself to lead you

safely out of her valley."

"Who does she have in mind?" asks Joxer.

"Cupid, Strife, Apollo, Deimos, Phobos, or Thanatos," says Voluptas quietly. "If you want Apollo, remember he's in Psyche's

hold, for now."

"Hmm....how about Cupid and Apollo?" wonders Hope. "This way, we let Psyche and Zeus *think* they have one up on us, and we

can watch Cupid's reaction to seeing Voluptas when he finally realizes who she is."

"Damn, you're vindictive aren't you?" asks Iolaus.

"I'm Friendship and Loyalty," growls Hope. "The disloyalty that Zeus has been showing to the other gods, and them to each

other, is grating against both my godhood, and my nerves. I can't stand it!"

"Cupid and Apollo then?" asks Voluptas for confirmation.

"Yes." says Joxer. Voluptas nods and closes her eyes. Two sedated flashes of light appear a couple seconds later, one white,

one yellowish-orange.

"Cupid," says Hope. "Apollo."

"Hope," growls Apollo. "What are *you* doing here?"

"*She* was invited by Gaea, and myself." Voluptas says, her voice cold as ice. "Don't cross me Sun God. Serenity may be my

godhood, but I can hate with the best of them."

"And you are?" asks Cupid, intrigued.

"Voluptas, Goddess of Serenity," says Voluptas. "Now, you both are here because Joxer, Iolaus, Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, and

Ares need two other guides, besides myself, to lead them safely through Gaea's valley. You were chosen against Thanatos,

Deimos, Phobos, and Strife."

"We'd sooner trust the Sun God and a Love God than anyone of War," says Xena, picking up Voluptas' clue easily.

"War's not bad," growls Cupid at the implied slander to his father. "It's just misunderstood."

"Joxie, who they?" wonders Ares, causing Apollo and Cupid to whirl around to see the nearly six foot Ares trying to hide

behind Joxer, his eyes warily watching them.

"That's Cupid, the God of Love, and Apollo, the God of the Sun, Intelligence, Male Beauty, and who knows what else," grins

Joxer when Apollo looks affronted. "They're here to lead us out of Gaea's valley safely."

"Oh," says Ares. "They with Daddy?"

"No," soothes Joxer. "They won't hurt you like Zeus does."

"Oday," says Ares, though he scoots closer to Joxer.

"What happened to Dad?!" asks Cupid, shocked.

"Zeus." Eris states, snarling when Apollo approaches.

"Hush Eris!" snaps Apollo. "If Ares is hurt, then I might be able to help him. You know as well as I do what would happen if

he doesn't retake the Sword in less than a month!"

"You mean you actually care?" asks Hope in disbelief.

"Contrary to popular opinion, I don't hate Ares." growls Apollo.

"Apollo...did you know you have three sons?" asks Voluptas after asking, and receiving permission from Joxer without words.

As long as Joxer is channeling his godhood, no one can lie around him.

"No..." says Apollo, confused. "What's that have to do with anything?"

"You have three sons, triplets...born by Thanatos," says Hope.

"No I don't," says Apollo. "I'd remember if I did."

"He honestly believes he doesn't," says Joxer, in shock.

"Joxie?" asks Ares concerned. "Joxie hurt?"

"Remind me to torture Psyche later," growls Eris.

"Apollo...are you in love with Thanatos?" asks Cupid. "I'm asking you out of respect for who you are. I can read it without

your permission."

"Yes," sighs Apollo. "I am."

"Do you ever plan on telling him?" wonders Hope. The four mortals smirk, finding this all very interesting. Seems like the

Gods have the exact problems mortals do when it comes to love, including hiding it.

"No." Apollo says shortly.

"I hate to interrupt," drawls Eris. "But we need to get moving. Ares needs to be in Athens in three weeks or less or else

Zeus gets the Sword of War."

"True," sighs Hope before snapping her fingers. Immediately everything disappears, and everything belonging to Joxer,

Hercules, Iolaus, Xena, and Gabrielle are in brand new packs, with Argo outfitted in a new saddle with new saddlebags and a

new bridle.

"You went overboard," remarks Eris dryly.

"No I didn't," grins Hope. "Xena is Ares' demi-god daughter."

"That's Eris you're talking to. I think she knows," drawls Apollo dryly.

"Let's go. Hopefully we'll reach an inn by tonight," sighs Joxer as he stands, helping Ares up. As soon as everyone is ready

to go, the weird traveling party (consisting of six gods, two demi-gods, and two mortals, along with a horse) gets started on

their way, heading for the nearest village.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



~Chapter Three~

"Alright, I don't give a flying rat's ass if you're fucking busy, I want to know what the fuck's going on and I want to know,

*now*!" snarls Aphrodite, shocking Deimos, Phobos, Anteros, Hephaestus, and Harmonia as she glares at Artemis. It's been

nearly three days since Ares disappeared, and she is very worried. Since she can't get ahold of Apollo for some reason, the

next best person to get ahold of is his sister.

"Since when do you care about him?" sneers Artemis.

"He's the father of three of her children," says Hephaestus quietly before Aphrodite inadvertantly hexes her. "And he's her

nephew. That may not mean much to you Artemis, but it means a lot to us."

"He's in Gaea's valley somewhere," growls Artemis. "All *I* know is that Gaea wants Ares to do something for her and he

agreed, gladly."

"You better not be lying to me," says Aphrodite quietly. "Else you'll never find love, whether you want it or not."

"Not much of a threat," scoffs Artemis before disappearing. Aphrodite growls.

"Uh...Aunt 'Dite?" asks Deimos. "Want us to look around?"

"Sure," says Aphrodite. "And for the last time, call me 'Dite."

"Sure," says Phobos with a mischievious grin. "Aunt 'Dite." He and Deimos disappear before Aphrodite can retaliate.

"Mom," says Anteros. "Want me to locate him?"

"No...if this is Zeus' doing, like I believe, we'd only make it worse." Aphrodite says. Anteros, Harmonia, and Hephaestus nod

in agreement.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I still say if we give Phobos one of 'Dite's potions, he may actually *admit* he has feelings for Salmoneus," states Hope

emphatically to Voluptas. "Either that, or lock them both in a room and hope Phobos doesn't kill him."

"What are you talking about?" asks Cupid, an eyebrow raised. Joxer and Ares are sitting on Argo, Ares leaning against Joxer,

sleeping. Xena's leading Argo and talking quietly to Gabrielle as Hercules and Iolaus keep Cupid and Apollo seperated. Eris

has disappeared and Voluptas and Hope are with Cupid, discussing the love lives, or non-love lives, of the gods.

"Phobos and Salmoneus," says Voluptas. "Apparently Phobos is in love with Salmoneus, and vice-versa. We're just wondering why

Phobos won't do anything. He's half-love god, isn't he?"

"Actually, he's not," says Joxer quietly from his perch. "Deimos and Phobos are both 100% War Gods. They're the sons of Ares

and Eris."

"Eris...and Ares?" asks Gabrielle with a shudder.

"They were co-erced," says Cupid quietly. "Zeus wanted Eris, but she didn't want him. As Hera wouldn't do anything, Eris and

Ares decided to try and get her pregnant, as that would put her under Hera's protection. However, no one would attempt it,

and in a last-ditch effort, they laid together. Eris got pregnant and Zeus punished Ares because he couldn't punish Eris."

"Oh," says Hope. "Still....can you get those two together?"

"Eris and Ares?" asks Cupid confused.

"NO!" says Voluptas and Hope as one. "Phobos and Salmoneus!"

"Mom usually handles those," says Cupid. "But I can try after we get back to Olympus."

"Good, and then we can get Apollo, Thanatos, and Hades together." Hope says with a grin.

"Apollo...Thanatos...and Hades?" asks Joxer bemused.

"Yep," says Hope.

"And when did you become a matchmaker Hope?" drawls Apollo coldly.

"When you abandoned your lover." Hope retorts.

"*WHAT* lover?" growls Apollo.

"We told you," says Joxer, a bit confused. "Thanatos."

"No, you didn't," says Apollo affronted. "I think I'd remember if I had a lover."

"Psyche." Hope and Voluptas say as one. "Who else?"

"What are you talking about?" growls Apollo.

"Joxie...where's 'Ris?" wonders Ares softly, effectively stopping the argument between Apollo, Hope, and Voluptas before it

can escalate.

"Eris...is somewhere, Ares." Joxer says soothingly. "She'll be back soon."

"Or now," growls Eris as she appears. "I went to check on Strife."

"And?" asks Iolaus, startling the gods. He, Hercules, Xena, and Gabrielle has basically been dead silent throughout the day.

They had nearly forgotten the mortals/demi-gods were there.

'Zeus is lying, saying that Ares is in the middle of a war," growls Eris. "Course, no one but Athena and Artemis believe him.

Aphrodite was making noises about grounding Zeus' love life for the next century though."

"Thanatos? Hades?" asks Joxer quietly.

"Hades had basically decreed that except to collect the souls of the dead, Thanatos and Celeste are not to leave Asphodel

until further notice," says Eris as she sits down beside Voluptas. "That, and if Zeus comes anyone near them, they are to

immediately return to Asphodel and stay there until told otherwise."

"Fun," says Hope. "So, until Zeus is overthrown, Thanatos is basically all but confined to Asphodel."

"Which is why I'm reclaiming the throne," says Joxer quietly. "I'm sick of watching Zeus ruin Greece."

"You mean it?" asks Eris. "You're going to become the new king?"

"Or die trying," promises Joxer. "Eris, could you go and take Jett and Jayce to Olympus? I'll need their help in the battle."

"And if Jett's with Auto?" asks Eris with a leer.

"Take him too," says Joxer bemused.

"'Ris be careful?" asks Ares as Eris turns to leave.

"Yeah, 'Res," says Eris. "I'll be careful."

"Prowmise." Ares states. "Pwease?"

"I promise," soothes Eris before disappearing.

"Let's hope she doesn't get caught," says Hope. "I'd hate to see what Zeus would do."

"What Zeus would do?" asks Voluptas. "Nothing. He'd risk Aphrodite's wrath all the sooner."

"Oooo...fun. Castration by erectile dysfuction," grins Hope. Xena, Gabrielle, Hope, and Voluptas exchange a glance and burst

out laughing while Joxer, Hercules, Iolaus, Cupid, and Apollo wince and Ares looks confused.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"What do you mean, you can't find them?!" roars Zeus at Psyche.

"Exactly that!" Psyche retorts. "Gaea's Valley is shielded so that no one, excluding Ares, can search for anyone without her

permission, and you know as well as I do that Gaea won't let us search for godly signatures!"

"Then find someone who can!" snarls Zeus.

"And who, pray tell, do you want me to ask?!" yells Psyche. "Cupid's disappeared, Aphrodite'll have Hephaestus chain me,

Deimos and Phobos hate my guts, and Anteros would sooner gouge his eyeballs than talk to me!"

"Then capture one of them!" snarls Zeus.

"With Aphrodite, Eris, and Hephaestus keeping tabs on everyone, including my own son?!" explodes Psyche. "If you want to find

them, *you* search for them! I've got manipulations to handle, else the Houses of War, Love, and Asphodel'll get ahold of

your plans sooner!"

She disappears, the last thing she hears is the sound of Zeus' roar of anger. Shuddering, Psyche falls to her knees in her

temple, ignoring gasps of concern from her priests. She hopes this is worth it.


tbc


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