AresJoxerCupidStrife - Round Robin


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 One By Christine

Joxer, God of Peace and all around good guy, sat on his white stone throne, comtemplating his blossoming relationship with a certain BBGOW.  That's 'Big Bad God of War' to you and me.

Anyway, as he sat there on his mighty throne, a flash of light and sparkles caught his attention.  Looking up, he saw Cupid standing there in front of him, hands on hips, lips in a pout.

"Hiya, Cupid.  What brings you here?"

Cupid just stood there, not saying a word, as he glared at Joxer.

Joxer sighed. "Now what did I do wrong?"

"Dad's like, totally pissed with you."

Joxer raised an eyebrow. "Oh?  Why's that?"  He was genuingly curious.

Part Two By Xandria

"It's Xena."

"Again?! Now what?!"

"She's stopped this war over in Thrace and..."

"Wait a minute. Since when do you do this for your Dad?"

"Since Strife's been hurt!" Cupid said, glaring again.

"Hurt?! Strife?! Who?!"

"Your follower, you know, the blond bit, follows the Way in Eli's,
your prophet's footsteps."

"Gabby? She hurt Strife?"

"He was in Thrace doing his work for Dad, ya know? And she comes along
and stabs him!"

"What?! But he's alright isn't he?!

"No, he may lose the baby."

"Baby?!"

"Why does everyone react that way? Yes, Strife is pregnant. But Uncle
'Pol said it was okay for him to work, as long as he took it easy. So
what happens first thing?! Gabrielle, your follower, stabs him in the
one place he's vulnerable."

"I better go see him."

"No. Dad really needs to talk to you."

"Cupid? I'm sorry." The God of Love stopped glaring and sighed.

"I know, it's not your fault. Though why you couldn't reveal yourself
and knock some sense into her years ago I don't know."

"It's against the rules, Cupid. No mortal may know I exist. It's the
only reason Zeus lets me live."

"That sucks! How are ya supposed to deal, then?" Cupid spat out and
disappeared. Joxer sighed and stared sadly at where he had been.

"I don't know. If he ever let me see him I'd ask. At least Poseidon
and Hades don't mind me visiting." With a sigh, Joxer, one of the last
living Titans, unacknowledged God of Peace and half brother to Hera
and her brothers, went to see Ares.

Appearing in the God of War's Temple he watched quietly for a while as
Ares raged, destroying things. Until he whirled around and glared at
him.

"What?!"

"What do you mean what? You did send your son to fetch me!" Ares
glared a threw a fireball at him. The force of it was enough to knock
Joxer back and he fell down, sliding across the floor to land against
the wall.

Part Three By Mistress

Joxer blinked his eye's in disbelief, staring up at his could-be lover in shock. In all the years he had known the God of War, and more recently getting involved with him, Ares had never raised a hand against him. He had never used his power against him. Feeling the cool stone pressed against his back, he couldn't quite believe that Ares had actually lashed out at him.

Ares stared down at his hands, still radiating with energy. Raising his
eye's, he winced back at the look of fear, hurt and betrayal that flashed across Joxer's face. "I...I..." He couldn't speak, only plead with his eye's for forgiveness. He glanced back at his bed where an injured Strife lay, curled around his stomach. Even in sleep, he protected the child he was carrying.

Joxer followed his line of sight, sighing and picking himself up off the
floor. "How is he?" His voice was almost silent, a slight whisper in a
serene room.

"I don't know." Ares eye's never left his nephew. He had to reassure
himself that for the moment, he was alive and safe. A gentle hand on his
shoulder lent him strength and he turned to look into a pair of caring,
sorrowful chocolate eye's.

"If there was anything I could do..." Not for the first time he wished he could reveal his true self to his followers, express his true wishes.

"You can." Ares eye's glazed over with hate and vengeance. "Denounce
Gabrielle as your follower for her actions, then leave her to me."

Part Four By JoeyRZ

Joxer closed his eyes, and shuddered. During all the time that he had spent with Xena and Gabrielle, he had come to really care for the young bard.

He knew she was never a true follower of peace. That she knew too much evil and hate, and too much influenced by Xena's warrior spirit. But he had hoped that even if she turned to be a warrior, she would be for peace. Like she had wanted to be all her life.

But now, the man... the only god that he truly had felt love for was asking to give him Gabrielle's head on a platter.

"Ares, I... I-" Joxer stammered.

Ares grabbed Joxer by the arm and dragged him closer to Strife.

"Look at him! He may lose the baby! My grandson! Is she such a true follower of peace that she would stab Strife for no good reason? He didn't do anything, he wasn't doing anything. He was in the village to check upon a runaway, one of his young boys! But your little bitch thinks he's there to cause trouble and stabs him! If he had been a mortal, she would have been a cold-blooded killer!"

Joxer choked in a sob, and hung his head. Ares turned him around to face him and shook him, holding onto his arms.

"Well? Is she a follower of peace? Of you, Joxer?"

Wiping the single tear than ran down his face, he took a deep breath and raised his head.

"No. For her recent actions, Gabrielle, Amazon Bard of Poteidia is not a follower of mine, Joxer, Titan god of Peace."

****

Part Five By Jen

"Finally!" Ares yells. "Cupid, time to take care of Gabrielle." Cupid
flashes in and father and son leave together to punish Gabrielle.

After listening to Gabrielle scream for several hours. Ares and Cupid
returned to check on Strife. "He and the baby will be okay. They just need
to rest," Apollo assured them.

"Where's Joxer?" Ares asked.

"He left just after you two did. I haven't seen him since."

"He'll probably show up later. He didn't want to give up Gabby."

Three days later Joxer still hadn't been seen. Ares began to worry.
"Hermes," Ares shouted.

"You bellowed."

"Have you seen Joxer lately?"

"No. I think Hestia saw him last"

Ares blinked to Hestia's temple. "Have you seen Joxer?"

"No dear. He came here about three days ago saying he had to give up a worshipper." Hestia replied "That always hits him hard, even if they do deserve it."

"What do you mean?" Ares asks.

"He ties himself to each worshipper. He fells what they do. It usually takes about two days for him to totally disconnect from anyone."

"We punished the bitch right after he denounced her." Ares said.

"Then he felt everything you did. What did you do to her?" Hestia asks.

"Burned her until she was almost dead then healed her and started over."
Ares whispered.

Part Six By Hergerbabe

" Oh Ares," Hestia whispered in horror. She grasped his arm, " I think
it would be best if you…"

Ares shook her off and disappeared without a word. He reappeared in
Joxer's temple.

" Joxer?" Gods, please be okay. " Joxer?" He wandered through the halls
trying to find the God of Peace. Eventually, he braved the bedroom.

" Joxer?" he whispered. Joxer was lying on the bed, the light was too
dim for him to see properly, so he moved closer. There was no reaction.
Ares sat carefully on the bed, not wanting to startle him. Still there
was no reaction.

" Jox, I'm sorry," Ares whispered. Blank eyes stared upwards, hardly
blinking. Joxer's mouth was slack, his body limp. Ares touched his face
nervously, expecting a flinch, some reaction, any reaction, but Joxer
didn't respond.

" Aesclepius!" Ares roared.

Part Seven By Christine

"What!?" Asclepius yelled, glaring at Ares. He had been in the middle of
teaching a new way to amputate body parts when Ares bellowed for him.

Ares hopped off the bed and ran up to his nephew, grabbing the younger God
by his throat. "There's something wrong with Joxer. I want you to go over
there and check him out right now or I will rip out your throat and stuff it
up your ass!"

At Asclepius' groan of affirmation, Ares unceremoniously released him.
Bringing his hands to his abused throat, Asclepius staggered somewhat over
to Joxer's side.

When he finally reached the bed, he placed a hand onto Joxer's forehead and
reached out with his powers. What he felt made him gasp in pain and shock.

"Oh Gods, Ares. How could you?" Asclepius barely managed to whisper,
looking over at the God of War.

Part Eight By Xandria

"What? What is it?!" Ares demanded, glaring at the younger God.

"He's in a lot of pain, Ares, not only physical but emotional...and
you caused both!"

"But I didn't know he was tied to his followers like that!"

"How could you not? Anyone who knows Joxer also knows how close he is
to his followers. Zeus won't let him officially have his followers so
those who do go his way in spite of that he has to tie to himself...so
he gets the power from them us gods get from our temples and people
knowing of our existence. Every god is taught that when they are
younger, Ares!"

"Are they? And if the god in question happens to spend their childhood
in Egypt, only to return to be despised and shunned by the other
gods?! I have had to fight for everything, Asc, it was never given to
me! And I never was given that knowledge! I found out who I was and
returned to Olympus, yes, and the one thing my parents gave me was the
sword, only because it was destined for me!"

"But what about your training, to use your powers as a god?"

"I figured it all out myself. So I didn't know! Now I want to know if
you can heal him or not!"

"Physically yes. Emotionally? You have to do that. Joxer was also
hurt by losing his follower; having so few means he is closer to his
worshippers than you are to yours. And since he probably doesn't know
what you just told me he'd be confused about that too. Weren't the two
of you seeing each other?"

"Sort of." Ares mumbled, looking down. For the last century or so they
had been getting closer to each other, had dinner, kissed even. But
being the Gods of War and Peace meant there were a few differences it
seemed, not to mention Zeus' edict.

"I give up! Look, I started him on the way, but you have to be there,
Ares! And talk! As soon as he wakes up give him this." Acsclepious
handed him a small blue bottle. "He has to drink it all. And then give
him this." He handed Ares a green bottle. "Give him half of that, then
call me."

"Where are you going?" Ares demanded.

"I have another patient to see to! I can leave Joxer alone for a
while, but I have to see Strife now!" Acsclepious glared at him as he
was about to flash out.

"Acsclepious...thanks." Ares said. The God of Healing smiled at him
before disappearing.

He reappeared in the Temple of Love where Cupid had moved Strife after
a couple of days.

"Asc! Where were you?!" Cupid demanded as they went to Cupid's
bedroom...no way was he going to let him out of his sight.

"Ares found Joxer...he was still linked to Gabrielle when you two
punished her."

"Linked? What are you talking about?" Cupid said with a puzzled frown.
Acsclepious stared at him.

"Ares taught you didn't he? About being a god."

"Well yeah, he's my Dad, and he said he was going to be a good father
to his children, unlike certain other gods. Why?"

"Your father wasn't taught, he had to figure it out. And there are
gaps. Joxer felt everything the two of you did to Gabrielle."

"What?! Everything?!"

"Yes. So I was just seeing to Joxer." Cupid stared at him, eyes wide.

"Oh man, that...that I wouldn't hurt Joxer, he's so gentle and..."
Cupid ran out and Acsclepious could hear him retching out of sight
some where. Grimacing he moved to the side of the bed, looking down at
Strife. Still curled over on his side, he opened his eyes and stared
up at him.

"How's my worst patient?" Acsclepious asked with a smile. He liked
Mischief, he believed a little fun like that was healthy for the mind.
And he and Strife had an agreement for any students of Healing, they
were as much Strife's as his, and both Gods got quite few laughs out
of what they put their teachers through.

"Totally bitchin, Asc! When can I get out of bed?"

"Not for a while yet."

"But, I'm going nuts here!"

"Who'd know the difference? Strife, you'll have to be in bed for at
least another week, preferably two."

"That sucks!"

"Look, let me see how the wound is and I may let you sit up."

"Sit up?!" Strife yelped. Acsclepious smirked down at him. Shutting
his eyes, he raised both hands above Strife's body.

Cupid came in and silently moved to the other side of the bed,
anxiously watching. Opening his eyes Acsclepious smiled at them both.

"Oh wow!"

"What!" What!" the other two gods said simultaneously.

"Strife, there's more than one little godling in there!"

"Cool!" Strife grinned. Cupid fainted.

Part Nine By Tosca

Joxer moaned. Ares leapt to his feet from the chair beside the bed and leant over him. Dazed brown eyes fluttered open.

"Here, love, drink this."

Ares snuck an arm around the God of Peace's shoulders and raised him upward, holding the small blue bottle to his lips. Joxer gave an inarticulate protest.

"No, you need to drink this. Please?"

Ares's voice was soft and pleading. Joxer's mouth gaped slightly and his tongue crept out to lick parched lips. Ares took quick advantage of this and poured the contents of the bottle into the invalid's mouth. Obviously the taste was pleasant as Joxer willingly drank the potion. The stupor cleared from his face and then to Ares's dismay, apprehension and pain crept into that chocolate gaze.

"A..Ar..Ares? Wh..wh..what are you doing here?" Joxer's voice shook with fear.

"Joxer, please, I didn't know. I didn't know about your ties to your followers. I didn't know it would hurt you! I'd never do anything that would harm you - Fates! If only you'd told me!"

"Wh..what? Oh Gods, my head!" Joxer winced.

"Here, drink this." Ares pressed the second potion to Joxer's lips and tipped half of it into his mouth. Joxer's face twisted in distaste - obviously this one's flavor wasn't as good. After a few seconds however, the pain lines on his face eased and his pallor went from dead and buried to merely deathly. He seemed to recover more awareness also, and his frightened eyes darted around the room.

"What h..happened? Wh..why are YOU here?"

"Maybe you don't want to talk to me right now, but I couldn't leave you - I'm so, so sorry. I just didn't know."

"What are you talking about? Wh..what did you do? Where X..Xena?" Joxer looked as though he was about to burst into tears. "Did Argo kick me? My head h…hurts so much."

Ares felt his stomach sink like a lead weight balanced against a feather.

"ACSLEPIOUS!!!"

--------------------------------------

"Twins! We're having twi-ins! Double trouble! Duplicated damage! Paired panic! Multiplied mayhem! Whoohoo!!!"

Strife rocked back and forth and chortled, so delighted he almost didn't bother enjoying the amusing spectacle of a wobbly Cupid being slapped conscious then hauled to his feet by the God of Medicine.

"Twins?" Cupid mumbled.

"Well, it is a trait that runs in the fraternal line," Acslepious told him. "It usually skips a generation, so it's not surprising that your w..er, partner, should have twins."

Cupid nodded at him, not understanding at all, then stumbled over to slump onto the bed beside Strife, who was hugging his stomach and giggling still.

"You OK with this, babe?" the God of Love enquired tentatively.

"Oh yeah, man!" there was no doubt as to Strife's enthusiasm. "This is like the BESTEST thing that's happened to me since we discovered sex!"

The grin he was wearing could have advertised Salmonius's Patented Tooth Brightener & Whitener, Recipe Personally Devised by Aphrodite the Goddess of Beauty Herself (yours for the measly sum of only 2 coppers a jar, customer satisfaction guaranteed or your money back).

"Twins. Wow. Like…wow!" Cupid said softly, a smile growing to match that on his lover's face. Strife's grin slipped from the manic to the carnal and Cupid edged closer, sliding his hands up the sheet-clad thighs, over the rounded hips and sides to smooth white shoulders. Strife moaned, and slid liquidly backward into the bed even further. Cupid leaned forward to t…

"Boys! Boys! Sorry, but no heavy, erm, exercise for at least a week or two!"

"Awww, Acslep…"

*ACSLEPIOUS!!!*

Ares' voice bellowed through the room. Acslepious sighed.

"Sounds like my call."

He went to vanish himself when a thought struck him.

"Oh, and I don't want to put a damper on the moment Strife, but just one thing…"

The pregnant god quirked an enquiring eyebrow at him.

"It's gonna be one heck of a labour."

Funny, he thought as he flashed out, he hadn't thought Strife was capable of going any paler.

Part Ten By Corona

"Ow" Strife stated quietly, then laughed.
"Well that'll teach me won't it" which set him off again so vigorously that
Cupid started to worry.
"Strife!" he hadn't meant to snap, he really hadn't. Strife looked up, both
his eyebrows made a deep vee of suspicion in his forehead.

"What's going on?" Cupid settled himself on the bed, looked away. He
couldn't throw this at Strife, especially not now, especially when half of
it was his fault.
"I don't really know yet" Strife flailed with an arm until he could drag
Cupid's head back round.
"That's crap, I can see it in ya face" Cupid slid up and settled against
the headboard next to him. He shifted onto his side, sliding an arm around
Strife's waist just underneath his own. Then he interlocked their fingers.
Strife peered down, then twisted his head, frowned and drew his lips
together, it was the look that said 'This is bad, isn't it?'
"It's Joxer-" that was all he managed before everything caught up with him
and he choked, couldn't continue.

---

Joxer resisted the urge to peer round the pillows because Ares had told him
to stay still. Like he could go anywhere if he tried, it felt like someone
had squeezed his brain. He did however manage to shuffle up far enough to
get a view out of the window. Not that it was much of a view, just clouds.
He sank down again watched the room throb slightly, or maybe that was him.
Maybe they'd been in a fight, or maybe he'd been kidnapped, he didn't feel
kidnapped. For one thing there was the big comfy bed and for another the
billowy white robe, which was nice, though his hands kept getting lost in
the sleeves.

He probably should be panicking but he figured Ares would tell him what was
going on. He fingered the sheets and made a noise, soft, silky, they must
have cost a fortune? Then he remembered that gods probably didn't pay for
things and stopped touching them. He jumped when Ares reappeared.

"Joxer" it was kind of nice that Ares remembered his name. Though he guessed
it was all the time he spent with Xena. Another figure appeared and Joxer
unconsciously leant back.
"Joxer this is Asclepius, he's going to ask you some questions" Ares
stressed the word questions, making Joxer sink a little further.
"I really don't know anything, nothing important anyway" a flicker of
something across Ares face then it settled into calm blankness. Asclepius
came forward and sat on the bed.

"Do you know me Joxer?" That was an odd question.
"You're the God of Healing and Medicine" Joxer reeled off, most everyone
knew that.
"Have you ever seen me before?" Joxer squinted.
"No" Ares shifted slightly and Joxer couldn't help but fidget with the
overlong sleeves. Asclepius simply nodded.
"What's the last thing you remember Joxer?" He wrinkled his nose up, paused.
"Xena was fishing, she'd just beat up some bandits. Gabrielle hit me with
her staff for being in the way, I think. Why what happened?" Ares didn't
look happy,

"Did I do something?" it came out squeakier than he intended, but all the
mystery was making him panic. Asclepius patted his arm gently,
"You didn't do anything Joxer, don't worry about that"
"Then why am I here? Oh and where is here?" Ares and Asclepius exchanged
looks. Joxer scrambled up to his knees, which made the world go slightly
fuzzy. He jerked the robe out from under them and tried to straighten,
managed to get a sleeve caught under his belt and had to pull the skirts up
to find his legs again. He thought he vaguely heard Ares make an annoyed
noise. Which reminded him he'd been talking.

"Where's Xena? What's going on?" 'Someone died' he thought instantly. Ares
would never be nice to him unless...Oh Gods he was trembling now and he
couldn't stop it, his eyes hurt, and his skin was itching like mad. Xena
was...was...somewhere, he couldn't think it just made his brain thump.
"My head feels like it's going to explode" he raised both hands and
flattened them against his temples.

"Joxer just relax" he wavered slightly, then jerked backwards when Ares
reached a hand out to steady him. Which was too much, because if someone had
died he didn't want people being nice to him, especially Gods.
"I am relaxed, stop it, just stop!" Joxer sank back down, gave a short
confused sob and looked straight at Asclepius. The only person, it seemed at
this moment, who knew what was going on.
"Please just tell me who's dead?" Asclepius raised his eyebrows.
"No one's dead Joxer" and the voice was so soft he had no choice but to
believe it.

Joxer blinked, confused, if no one had died then...something to do with him
then? He turned his head towards Ares. Said in a soft hurt tone.
"What did you do to me?" he was startled and horrified to see Ares face
crumble utterly.

Part Eleven By Hergerbabe

Joxer scooted as far back in the bed as he could, watching the War God
in terror as tears poured down his face.

“Ares?” Asclepius stared in shock. “I didn’t realise. I’m sorry I
accused you before.”

Ares stood up suddenly and turned away wiping furiously at his eyes.
“This stays in this room!” he whispered menacingly.

“Of course,” said Asclepius quietly.

“Now, fix him!”

“Ares, I can’t. He’s retreated into this persona. I can’t reach him.
You might be able to, but I don’t know if he trusts you anymore.”

Ares spun round, “What are you saying?!”

“He might get better if you can regain his trust. But it will take time
and patience. How willing are you to help?” Asclepius tried not to
cower under Ares’ glare.

“I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Asclepius nodded, “Good.”

“So, what do I do?” Ares asked eventually, when Asclepius was not
forthcoming.

Asclepius sighed, “Look after him, show him you truly care and that you
didn’t mean to hurt him.” Ares nodded.

“Um,” Joxer started tentatively. “I don’t know what you’re talking
about, but can I go now?”

“No!” Ares snapped. Joxer ducked under the covers shaking with fear.

“Ares!” Asclepius admonished the War God.

“Sorry.” Ares sat on the bed and gently pulled the covers off Joxer.
“Shh,” he soothed the terrified man. “You have to stay with me, love.
You’ve not been well.” He slowly pulled Joxer into his arms and held
him, stroking his hair until he relaxed a little.

Asclepius looked up suddenly, “Oh. Got to go. Will you be all right?”
Ares nodded. “Remember, patience and love,” Asclepius said before he
flashed out.

@>*~

“What happened?” Asclepius quickly sedated Strife with a thought and
started to examine him.

Cupid hovered nervously, “I don’t know, I was telling him about Jox and
he got really upset. Then he started screaming.” He brushed away tears.
“Is he okay?”

Part Twelve By Jen

"I don't know."

Cupid picked Asclepius up and slammed him into the wall, "What do you
mean you don't know? It's your job to know. HELP HIM, NOW!"


"Quit yelling and put me down. It will only make Strife more upset
and make it harder for me to find what's wrong." Asclepius calmly
stated.

After checking Strife, Asclepius began pacing and mumbling, "Never do
things like everyone else. Have to be different. Why do I have to
do these things?"

"What are you talking about? Tell me what is wrong with him." Cupid
said. "He's fine. He got a burst of power from somewhere and it
speeded the pregancy. His body wasn't ready and it complained."
Aclepius explained.

"ACLEPIUS!"

"There's Ares yelling. Strife is fine. Keep him in bed and yell if
anything else happens."

In a shower of light Aclepius appreared and took one look at Jox and
yelled "What happened now?"

Part Thirteen By Christine

Ares jumped up from the bed and rushed over to Asclepius. "I don't know what happened! That's why I called you here!"

Asclepius rolled his eyes and sighed. When this was all over he was
definitely going on vacation. His relatives were so damn tiring.

Looking Joxer up and down, Asclepius turned back towards Ares. "He's
laughing hysterically."

"No, shit. I can *see* that. What I want to know is why!"

Before Asclepius could reply, Joxer wiped the merriment from his eyes while pointing at Ares. "Gotcha!"

***************

Cupid was seated on the edge of the bed, stroking Strife's hair while he
slept. He glanced down to have a look at Strife's stomch. Strife looked to be in his eighth month of pregnancy when in all actuality, he was only a month along. Whatever had caused such a strong energy burst, definitely had an effect on his lover.

Slowly opening his eyes, Strife turned his head and smiled at seeing a
vision of beauty. "What happened?"

Cupid moved his gaze back to his beloved's face. "You got a major rush of energy and...um..."

"Cupie?"

"Yes?"

"Spit it out already!"

Cupid flinched a bit. "Well, Strife. Instead of only being a month along in your pregnancy, you're now eight months along."

"Shit!" Strife squeaked before fainting dead away.

Cupid's eyes widened before yelling, "Asclepius!"

Part Fourteen By Xandria

Meanwhile at the Temple of Peace Asclepius was looking at Joxer
closely watched by an upset Ares.

"Oh, why don't I just put you all in the one place? At this rate I'll
never get anything done! Joxer, look at me!" Joxer hiccuped and
looked at the God of Healing. One look at the serious expression on
his face and he started to laugh again. With a sigh, Asclepius waved
his hand and sent him to sleep.

"Is...is he going to be okay!?" Ares said anxiously.

"Well, he's already relaxed enough in your presence to play a joke on
you. He's a little over the top, but I wouldn't worry about it too
much for now."

"What do you mean for now?!" Asclepius sighed and looked at the War
God. At this rate he'd get an ulcer, which wouldn't be pleasant for
anyone on Olympus. Or the mortal world for that matter. Sighing, he
sat down before trying to explain.

"Ares, he is not himself. He's at least fixated on the Joxer persona,
which is a better one than if he'd become Jett."

"What are you talking about?" Ares began to walk around the temple,
pacing as Asclepius spoke.

"Jox has to go among the mortals from time to times, like we all do,
but because of Zeus' edict he has to do it in disguise. So he
created..."

"Joxer, yes, so?" waving his hand impatiently Ares then glared at
Asclepius waiting for an answer. Glaring back, Asclepius sighed and
tried again.

"He also created a couple of other personas, triplets, in case he met
a mortal in one of the other guises." Ares stopped pacing and stared
at him, astonished.

"You don't mean Jett and Jace are him?! I thought he just did the
born as a mortal gig!" He shook his head and smiled at Ares.

"Well, Jett and Jace are real, and they are like that. Sometimes
though it's not them; it's Jox, God of Peace."

"Why? Isn't this just a little complicated? And how is it you know
all this? Why hasn't he told me this himself?!" Ares glared at
Asclepius suspiciously and clenched his hands into fists. Was this
why things had been going so slow?! Asclepius glared at him and got
up, to start pacing up and down himself, waving his arms as he spoke.
Ares watched him, bemused.

"Oh, grow up! You are his opposite you know. He has to go do his
Godly duties, just like you, he has to plan, has to fight for
peace...and he hasn't been entirely certain of you to date. Jox knows
you are holding back so he has! I know because I'm his friend, we've
worked together a lot. And who else is he going to tell? Aphrodite?
All of Olympus would know in minutes and he has to keep it a secret!"
He stopped and looked at Ares as he interrupted again, this time with
one quiet word.

"Why?"

"Ares, who does Jox have for friends? Who dares to go against Zeus? I
can get away with it, as long as I keep it quiet, you and Aphrodite
can, Strife and Cupid, Eris, and any of Zeus children could, but they
can't be bothered. Which is a pity really as Jox is a very
interesting person.

"The rest of Olympus don't dare, I only do as a God of Healing had to
deal with him and Dad had me do it, and I'm glad he did. He could go
visit the Titans in Tartarus as Hades has a soft spot for his younger
half brother, same with Poseidon. Thing is, Zeus doesn't like him
being away too long, thinks he might plot against him. See, even
though he's Rheas' son and not Cronus' he's scared the younger
brother thing will happen here and Jox will take over Olympus."

"That's stupid, anyone who knows Jox..." Ares began but this time
Asclepius interrupted.

"That's the point. Zeus doesn't know Jox. Hasn't spoke to him since
before you were born, won't speak about him, how can he know him?
Look, Ares, I've told you too much already, this is something you
have to talk over with Jox. My point, originally, was just to be glad
that Jox didn't fixate on hiding in Jace or Jett's personas, and that
laughter is usually a sign of mental health. Jox will get better."

Ares sighed.

"Good point. So do you have..."

"Asclepius!" Cupid yelled.

"Now what? This house call business is getting old!" Asclepius said
before leaving. Ares turned and looked thoughtfully at Joxer, who
stared back at him, awake now. He then smiled suddenly, whole face
lighting up as he looked at the War God.

Delighted, Ares smiled back.

*****************************

Appearing in their bedroom, Asclepius sighed as he saw Cupid trying
to wake Strife up.

"What, are you two taking it in turn to faint?!" He hurried over to
the bed and examined Strife.

"Asclepius! Do something!" Cupid said as he grabbed him, stopping him
from doing anything.

"Why don't you tell me what happened first so I have an idea of what
exactly I can do. And let go so I can do so while you're at it!"
Cupid let go with a slight blush and looked down.

"I tlhmabtjx..."

"What? Speak up, Cupid!"

"I said, I told him about Jox!" Asclepius stared at him in silence
for a few moments. Cupid stared back then looked down and began to
shuffle his feet a little, his wings fluttering nervously as he did
so. Finally, he brought his arms up and crossed them, all under
Asclepius' stare.

"You're a natural blonde, aren't you?"

"Hey! That is so not fair!"

"Cupid, You just told a pregnant god, a male pregnant god, who has
just been attacked by some psycho, and weakened by the sudden surge
in his pregnancy, news guaranteed to upset him. Do you see where I'm
going here?"

"Hey he was all right about that! He only fainted after I told him
about the babies coming a lot sooner!" Cupid glared at Asclepius in
righteous wrath.

Asclepius stared back at him then looked up at the ceiling.

"Aaaaaaaargh!"

Part Fifteen By Lady Bard

"Cupid!" Asclepius spoke firmly. After all, nothing else seemed to be working in keeping things calm when that was exactly what Strife needed. "You, will, stay, here. You, Will, keep Strife, company, and under no circumstances will you say or do anything that might in the least little bit upset him. Ok?"

"But-"

"Understand???" Asclepius snapped. The exhaustion of running between two sick gods and trying to keep two others calm was finally catching up to him."

Cupid nodded, startled at the usually soothing god's outburst.

"Asclepius! Help!"

"Get in that bed and stay," were the last words the healer spoke as he
flashed away and entered Chaos.

Jox was throwing things around and making a wind whip through the room. Ares stood behind him but didn't dare touch him.

"What happened?" The soft words fell into the din around him, silencing it and making Jox fall into the War god's arms.

"I just touched him. We were here and he was smiling and I smiled and I touched him. It was just a simple touch."

"Did he say anything?"

"No, but he was reaching out to me so I reached back."

"He might have slid into the Jayce persona but I don't know.. There's a lot even i don't know about him." Asclepius swaied a bit.

"You should try and clean some of this up. He'll be upset when he comes to himself at all this." Tapestries lay everywhere shredded to bits.
Delicate crystal chimes lay shattered and a portrait drawn of Ares was
ruined beyond recognition. Ares went one step farther and replaced
everything. Jox would know, but it made him feel better.

"what does his reaction have to do with having slipped into his Jayce
persona?" Asked Ares.

"well to the utter shame of his family Jayce loves men and is quite open about it. In retaliation for that, his father allowed several of his soldiers to rape him.

Now, when Jox takes on the personas of either Jett or Jayce he has to kind of dip into their memories. I don't understand the process but apparently whatever they are thinking about when he immerses himself becomes predominant in Jox's mind and he has to beat it down so that he can function. Since he was not in top form and apparently isn't controling his powers right he allowed the memory of that event to color his thoughts-" He trailed off and felt himself start to loose focus.

All the time he had been speaking he had been channeling energy into Jox attempting to straighten out the confusion in his mind. He realized suddenly that he had over calculated his strength and he was going to pass out. He thought briefly that Ares would probably freak out but couldn't do anything about it. His last thought before darkness claimed him was not of Strife or Joxer but of poseidon.

All Ares was aware of was that Asclepius was collapsing. He ported Jox to the bed and caught the healer and shouted. "Apollo!"

Part Sixteen By Tosca

Ares waited. For all of about fifteen seconds.

"APOLLO!" he yelled again.

There was a shower of gold stars and a sweaty,
barely-clad figure shimmered into existence. Obviously
Ares had disturbed his brother midway through, er,
physical exertion of some kind.

"You BELLOWED, ars..." the Sun God's snarky comment
cut off when he recognised the supine body in Ares'
arms.

"Ace!" he leapt for his son and pulled him from the
War God's grasp, a feral snarl disfiguring his
normally mellow expression. "What in Tartarus have you
done to him?"

His eyes glowed briefly with the molten heat of the
sun's core. Ares belatedly remembered that although
ninety-nine out of a hundred times he could whip
Apollo's arse, on the anomalous occasions his younger
brother lost his temper he could give back just as
good as he got.

Ares stared him down. "Nothing! He was healing Joxer
and collapsed."

The furnace cooled, and Apollo bent his mind to
checking his son out. He frowned. It wasn't like his
practical son to allow his energy levels to be
depleted so dangerously. He had even cut into his own
lifeforce. He started feeding his son power,
replenishing the frighteningly low reserves.

He looked over to his older brother and saw he had
retreated to the bed and was cradling his boyfriend,
the God of Peace, in his arms. Joxer also appeared to
be insensible. A thought flicked briefly across his
mind,

*And ain't that an amusing pas-de-deux to watch.
Wonder if they'll ever get it on this millennium?*

However his question was all business.

"Tell me what happened."

Ares quickly and succinctly brought Apollo up to date
with all that had happened from the moment that
Gabrielle had attacked Strife. By the end of his
recounting, Asclepius had begun to stir, a pain-filled
moan escaping his lips. Ares watched surprised by the
expression of tender concern crossing his brother's
face as he soothed a hand over his son's sandy curls,
lulling him back into unconsciousness.

*But then I seldom show my true personality to those
outside the Houses of War and Love,* he considered,
*Why should I suppose 'Pollo, spoilt brat though he
is, is any different? After all, he is the god of
intellect - and actors.*

"Will he be all right?" he enquired, worried, for Ace
was one of his favourite nephews.

"Yes. He just overdid it very badly." Apollo picked
his son up and carried him over to the bed, laying him
beside Joxer. He closed his eyes and flexed his power.
A startled Cupid flashed in beside the bed, and then a
dozing Strife appeared next to Asclepius and Joxer.
The pregnant god stirred,

"Hhhrr, wha..."

"Shh, little Mischief, back to sleep."

Apollo briefly touched Strife's forehead and he
slipped once more into the arms of Morpheus.

"Unc' Apollo, what're you doing?" Cupid hissed angrily
"What's wrong with Ace?"

"He damn near did himself an injury cleaning up after
you morons' messes!"

"It wasn't my fault! That da..."

"Be still!" Ares ordered in a harsh whisper and both
gods obediently stilled, thus proving Ares was capable
of more with one whisper than his father was with any
temper tantrum.

"'Pollo, Ace can help Strife once he gets his strength
back," Ares braced himself as though to perform a deed
even more unpleasant than cleaning out the Augean
Stables (and boy, had that been one of Strife's
wickeder suggestions), "You're the God of the Mind.
Can..can you help Joxer?"

Astonishment was painted on Apollo's face at the
extraordinary circumstance of his brother asking for
his help. He stared speechlessly at Ares. The God of
War's face clouded with quick anger.

"Well, forget it arsehole! If tha.."

"No, no, I'm, er I'll be happy to help Jox. In fact
it's about time we just got this whole stinking mess
cleaned up."

"Huh?" queried Cupid.

"I mean OK, I have been a bit of an arsehole turning a
blind eye 'cos it didn't concern me, but when his
disinformation an' shit starts to impact on MY kids...
Well fuck it, enough's enough."

Enlightenment struck and Ares looked at Apollo in wary
hope. The Sun God smiled, and for the first time in
centuries an almost friendly bond of accord passed
between the two brothers.

Apollo's mind voice rang out clear and strong.

"POP!"

Part Seventeen By Corona

"We settle this once and for all right?" Ares nodded at his brother, they
both folded their arms and waited.
The flash that heralded the king of the Gods was decidedly more showy than
necessary. It faded to reveal Zeus in all his regal finery. Though his face
didn't look particularly regal, he was scowling, arms folded across his
chest.

"I hope this is im-" he stopped when he saw his two most powerful sons were
scowling at him, he matched it when he saw who was laying on the bed behind
them.
"What's he doing here?" the words were alive with venom. Ares stepped into
his line of sight. Shielding all the sleeping Gods from his view. None of
them were in a fit state to be harassed by Zeus right now.

In fact for a few horrible seconds Ares thought his father would simply
flash away.
"Dad" it was that one word from Apollo that seemed to stop him.
"We have a problem" Ares cut in quickly.
"A big problem" Apollo added. Even that felt like an understatement to Ares.
"And I'm concerned with this why exactly?" Zeus was still sending nasty
glances at the sleeping God of Peace.

Ares fought the urge to snarl. It would make a change for Zeus to listen,
just once. Though he didn't know why he expected it. Zeus never helped his
children unless something was in it for him.
"Joxer currently thinks he's a mortal" Zeus glanced again at the bed, raised
an amused eyebrow.
"I'm sure I'd like to know how that happened?" Ares ground his teeth, 'I'm
sure you would'.
"He was tied to a worshipper when she was tortured" Apollo sighed softly and
Ares felt the cringe next to him. Apparently his brother was yet another
person who had known what could happen.

Zeus face scrunched slightly.
"So Joxer's gone mad?" Ares detected disbelief, and a thick undercurrent of
what felt like anxiety, from his father?
"No" Apollo offered quietly.
"He's not mad he's just stuck inside the persona of a mortal he was
masquerading as." Ares saw his father relax slightly.


"That doesn't seem so dire" Zeus was instantly back to not giving a damn. It
was obvious in his posture. He made a noise, then waved a dismissive hand.
Ares wanted to grab that hand and shove it right up his...
"So, let him think he's mortal for all I care. That's not my problem"
"Do you realise what that could do to the pantheon?" Ares snapped. Zeus
turned on him.
"You think I'm stupid! Just you remember who's King around here Ares?" Ares
didn't back down, in fact he took a step closer.
"You're the King of the Gods, which makes it your problem"
"Dad you gotta help him, this whole mess is hurting everyone" his eyes
flickered to his son still sleeping on the bed. Zeus noticed and made a
noise.
"I suppose Joxer caused this as well" Apollo threw up his hands.
"You're not getting this are you" Ares stepped past his brother, taking him
out of the line of fire, which Apollo didn't fail to notice.


"Why do you hate him so much!" Zeus waved an arm towards the bed.
"He's a Titan!" Ares and Apollo both bunched closer.
"So?" Zeus looked from one to the other as if willing them to get the
point.
"They're mad, all of them, look at his brothers and sisters. Not Titans but
Tyrants. Worshippers give them power. Do you have any idea what he could do
if he was worshipped as Peace! The amount of power he'd have." Zeus stopped
abruptly when he realised he was bellowing. Ares and Apollo were both
staring at him in shocked disgust.

"He's Peace" Apollo said softly
"Not Power, or War"
"Joxer doesn't want power" Ares snarled in his fathers face.
"You'd know that if you knew him!"
"He doesn't just keep peace in the world, he keeps peace here" Apollo
offered. Ares at any other time would have been startled that his brother
was backing him up. This was too important to screw up, if he could make his
father understand. Then Joxer would maybe finally be accepted.
"It was a worshipper that did this!" Ares snarled bunching a fist, certain
his father was about to blow him to kingdom come.


"Worshipper?" Zeus, Ares and Apollo all looked at the bed in surprise. Even
Cupid, who was still leaning against the headboard jumped. Joxer was now
sitting up a half-smile on his face.
"That's ironic" he pushed the covers aside and swung his legs out.
"Do you know why?" Joxer slid from the bed, shaking off Cupid's grasping
hand like it wasn't even there. Oblivious to the stunned looks from Ares and
Apollo.

His eyes were unfocused, drifting and it became startlingly clear that he
was still asleep. Strife and Asclepius remained that way.
"She hated me" he stood, moved effortlessly between the two brothers to face
Zeus. Who was glaring at Joxer like he was some ghostly apparition.
"And that's what she gave me, a last gift from my most treasured
worshipper." He spat the word in obvious disgust.

"Jox?" Joxer tilted his head far enough to glare at Ares.
"And you" a finger lifted, waved sinuously back and forth inches from Ares
face.
"I loved you" the words were thick with loss and regret.
"But all you gave me were choices and pain." He raised his head, mouth
sliding into a smile.
"And you think me a Titan? I'll show you a Titan"
Joxer whirled, opened a hand. Threw a fireball at the King of the Gods.

Zeus was so startled he actually let it hit him. He went down in a flurry of
robes, skidded twenty feet across the marble floor and hit the wall with a
loud crack. He stayed there, gaping almost comically against the
spider-webbed marble.

"Here's my proclamation. Until you make amends, there will be no Peace for
anyone" Joxer took in each horrified face with calm resolve, then his eyes
rolled in his head and he folded to the floor.

Part Eighteen By Hergerbabe

“Oh shit! Oh shit!” Zeus babbled in a panic.

Ares caught Joxer in his arms and stared in disgust as his father
worked himself into hysterics.

“’Pol, hold Joxer please,” Ares gently handed the unconscious God to
his brother. He walked up to his father and did something he’d always
wanted to do, he slapped him. Well, okay, he’d always wanted to hit
him, but slapping would do. Zeus stared at him, before coughing in
embarrassment and shaking his head slightly.

“This is all your fault!” Zeus thundered at his dark son.

“Isn’t it always?” Ares said with a yawn, picking an imaginary bit of
lint from his pants. “’Pol, Joxer please.” Apollo carefully gave the
War God back his almost lover. “He was speaking to me, I’ll make
amends, no matter what, but not for you,” Ares glared at his father,
“For him, for never telling him that I love him.”

Apollo and Zeus gaped at him. Apollo shook himself when he saw his son
stir. He hurried to the bed.

“Son, it’s time to go home,” he said gently to Asclepius, “Get some
rest.” Asclepius smiled gratefully at his father and managed to gather
enough energy to beam out. Apollo smiled, “He’ll have a nice surprise
waiting for him,” he sighed in satisfaction. “So, Ares, how are you
going to make amends?”

Ares looked at the slender face of the man he loved and shook his head,
“I don’t know.” He gently stroked the hair from Joxer’s brow and kissed
it. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. Ares carried Joxer back over to the bed
and carefully laid him next to Strife. “I’m going to go and see Hades.”

Apollo frowned, “Why?”

Strife sat bolt upright and screamed. Cupid leapt into the air in
shock.

“What, what?” Cupid gasped.

“Cupe!” Strife squeaked, “It hurts.”

“’Pol!” Cupid threw a terrified look at his uncle.

“Well, I guess it’s time,” Apollo hurried to the bed. “Call your mother
please, Ares.”

Part Nineteen By Jen

"HERA!"

"What happened? What's wrong?" Hera said franticly.

"The baby. It's coming. What do we do? Do you need water? Do you need towels? What? Tell me what to do." Cupid said running around like a crazed person.

"Go outside and we will call you when it's over." Hera replied.

"What I need to do something. Dad tell her to give me something to do." Cupid pleaded.

"Come on. They will take care of Strife. You know that. Let's go get Bliss and tell him the news." Ares said trying to calm Cupid.

"Bliss, I forgot about him. Where is he?" Cupid said (still running).

"Calm down now. You are disturbing Strife. OUT." Apollo shouted.

Ares and Cupid stare at each other as they find themselves outside the room and banned form it.

"Let's go get Bliss."

Part Twenty By Christine

Once Apollo sensed that his brother and nephew had left, he turned back to the sobbing God of Mischief. "Breathe, Strife, breathe."

Strife glared as best as he could at Apollo. "I *am* breathing, damn it!" As another painful contraction hit him, he cried, "I want these babies out, *now*!"

Hera, who had been through this type of thing many times, casually walked over to the panting god. "I have to prepare the birth canal before we can get them out."

Strife nodded his head before looking around. "Where's Cupe?"

"I sent him and your uncle away. They were making it hard for me to
concentrate," Apollo replied smugly.

Upon hearing this little tid-bit of information, Strife raised a hand and beckoned his uncle over with his index finger. Not thinking anything of it, Apollo went closer. Once Apollo was close enough, Strife grabbed the Sun God by his throat. "You did *what*!?"

"I sen' 'em 'way," Apollo gurgled out.

Another wave of pain made Strife moan and close his eyes. When it passed, Strife reopened them and glared at his choking uncle. "You better damn well go get them back, or I swear on the River Styx, I will make your eternity miserable!" At Apollo's slight nod, Strife let go.

Coughing, Apollo growled and made as if to throttle the laboring god until Hera cleared her throat. "I'd do as he says, if I were you."

Apollo growled low in his throat before flashing off after Cupid and Ares. Turning back to her grandson with a sigh, Hera smiled sweetly. "Now, let's see about making that birth canal, shall we?"

(!)

After picking up a still slumbering Bliss, Cupid and Ares remained in
Cupid's temple. Ares was holding Bliss while Cupid paced back and forth
muttering angrily to himself.

Towards their right, a bright flash announced the arrival of Apollo. Cupid looked up at the flash and seeing Apollo materialize, rushed over to him and grabbed him by the front of his tunic. "What's wrong? Why aren't you with Strife!?"

Yanking Cupid's hands off of his tunic, Apollo rubbed at his temples and
sighed loudly. "You two need to come with me. Strife wants you guys with
him."

Before any more could be said, Cupid flashed Bliss into his arms and
disappeared in a burst of golden sparkles. Blinking at the spot his son had occupied, Ares turned a dirty look onto his brother. "Tell Strife I
couldn't make it. I had to go see Hades about something important." With
that, Ares flashed away.

Apollo groaned. Gods, life was just totally sucking for him right now.

(_!_)

Naked from the waist down, Strife was currently trying his damnedest not to push. He made it quite clear he wasn't going to push until Cupid returned. Hera had 'uh huh'd' at that, raising an eyebrow in amusement.

When Cupid reappeared next to Strife, holding a *still* quite asleep Bliss in his arms, Strife let out a whoop of joy before moaning in pain as another contraction hit him.

"You alright, babe?"

Strife turned shocked eyes towards his lover. "Fuck no! I'm having your
babies here!"

Hera snickered internally at Cupid's expression. Shaking her head, she
turned once more towards Strife. "Okay, dear. He's here. Feel free to push any time now."

Strife blushed slightly before leaning forward and pushing with all his
might.

"That's good, Strife. Now, push again."

Strife sucked in a lungful of breath and repeated the action.

Seeing the baby beginning to crown, Hera cheered Strife on. "Excellent. I just need you to push some more." Strife pushed. "That's it, keep pushing."

Sore and in pain, Strife yelled out, "I *am* pushing!"

"Come on, babe. Just a little more and our first baby will be here," Cupid encouraged his lover.

In the middle of pushing some more, Strife growled out, "Who asked you?"

Cupid blinked. Why was Strife being mean to him for?

With one final curse filled push, Strife slumped back. It was quiet in the room for several moments before a high pitched wailing came from the little bundle at Strife's feet.

"It's a girl!" Hera exclaimed proudly. As she finished cleaning off the
first of the twins, Strife suddenly cried out again. "Here, Cupid. Take your daughter."

Materializing a bed for Bliss and gently placing him onto it, Cupid reached over and took hold of his daughter.

Apollo picked that moment to finally reappear. "Wow, Strife. That was fast." He ducked suddenly at the three fireballs thrown his way. "Well, excuse me for living!"

Before anyone could reply or throw more fireballs at him, a snore from the floor caught everyone's attention. Apollo gripped the bridge of his nose. "Why's Joxer passed out on the floor?"



Part 21 by Xandria

Warning: Cupid Owies because of the Strife Owies. And there are tears, too. And I unexpectedly segued into Monty Python for one character, just imagine him speaking with a strong Yorkshire accent…

OLYMPUS

"I dunno, we've been a little bit occupied here!" Strife said, glaring at the Sun God. Apollo blushed and cleared his throat.

"Ah, I meant, he was put on the bed, you know?"

"Never mind, that's not important for now, dear. Where's Ares? He'll want to see his granddaughter." Hera said calmly.

"He asked me to tell you he had to go see Hades about something important."

"What?! I want Unc! I'm not doing any more till he gets here!" Strife said.

"Oh really Strife, it only worked before because you weren't quite ready. The baby will come in his time, not yours." Hera replied.

"I ain't doin' nuthin'!" Mischief said stubbornly, sticking out his lips.

"Very well Dear. Let me know when you change your mind." Hera took her new Granddaughter and put her on a crib next to Bliss then went over to Joxer and began to make him more comfortable. Strife stared at her, confused, and his lips quivered.

"What is it? Can I do anything?" Cupid said anxiously. Strife seemed to freeze then and turned to glare at the God of Love.

"You! You've done plenty already! Don't think you're getting' any either in future! This is all your fault." Apollo held his hands up and stepped back. Cupid, ignoring the warning signs, put his arms out to Strife to comfort him.

"Babe, it's gonna be…Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggghghghghghh!" Cupid screamed in pain as Strife clamped on and pressed down as a contraction went through his body. Whimpering, Cupid fell onto his knees as Strife squeezed hard, riding out the pain.

"I don't wanna do this anymore!" Strife screamed. Looking up from her younger brother, Hera stood up and went over to them.

"All you have to do is push, Strife, don't fight this."

"But I want Unc!" Strife said, tears beginning to run down his face. Hauling on Cupid he pulled him up and put his arms around him, balling his eyes out. Cupid very gingerly hugged him back, looking as if he thought Strife might explode any minute.

Sighing, Hera turned to Apollo.

"Go find Ares and bring him back will you?" Apollo left quickly, glad to be gone. Zeus, banished out side with Cupid and Ares, put his head around the door then.

"What's going on?"

"Let's see. Strife's given birth to your great granddaughter, Joxer's still unconscious but moved in his sleep, and Ares has gone to Hades for some reason so Strife refuses to have your great grandson until he's there. So I just sent Apollo to go fetch him."

"Oh. Right then." Zeus said and went back outside. Better to stay out of Hera's way for now.

**************************************

HADES

"No!" Absolutely not!" Hades glared at his nephew, brows together.

"Why not? I thought you liked Joxer!' Ares yelled back at him.

"Of course I like Joxer, who wouldn't? But she's in Tartarus and this is one rule I can't break! She's my mother, too, you know! I miss her! But as a Titan she has to stay there!"

"Why? I mean, Joxer is too but he's not in Tartarus."

"Well for one thing, Joxer's alive and…" Hades stopped and stared at Ares.

"And?" Ares prompted impatiently when Hades just continued to stare. All of a sudden Hades began to smile and reached out towards Ares who flinched, wary of the unusually happy god.

"Do you know what you've done?!" Hades said.

"No." Ares said cautiously. Hades grabbed him and hugged him as Ares froze in surprise.

"Ares, you're wonderful! I…" Apollo flashed in then.

"Bro, you gotta hurry. Strife's on a tear and he's gonna hurt himself and the baby if you don't get there right now!"

"What?! I'll be right there! Hades, what about…?"

"I'll do it, just go see to Strife." Hades said. Ares gave him a quick smile and left, followed by Apollo, who looked like he wanted to say something but left.

Smiling, Hades disappeared, only to reappear in Tartarus, in front of a castle. Knocking on the door, he waited. After some time Chronus appeared, frowning at him.

"What do you want?! Typical youngster, never turn up unless you're after something!"

"Hello Father. Can I speak to Mother?"

"Typical, just typical, that is, can't speak to your own father. That's kids for you. Never have time, not to listen, oh no! Instead they shut you up somewhere out of the way and never come for a visit, oh no. But it's Tartarus, they say. It's too hard, they say. Why in my day we had to go through…"

"Hello Hades. It's good to see you." Hades sighed in relief. Rhea would take care of his Father. He would have forgiven Chronus the whole eating thing years ago if he didn't keep on going on and on about the old days, remembering the Titans.

"Mother. I just discovered the most marvelous loophole."

***********************

OLYMPUS

Ares got up there in time to hear Strife screaming at Cupid as he crushed his hands. Cupid, tears streaming down his face in agony, just bore it, a look of longsuffering on his face. Hera was trying to get Strife to push and he refused. Turning, she saw him and exclaimed.

"Finally! Where have you been?! Never mind, Strife, now Ares is here push before I make you!" Strife looked at his uncle and smiled before seeming to slump.

The next second a cry could be heard as his son was finally let out into the world. Hera washed him and gave him to Strife to hold and he looked down at this son.

"Oh wow, look at him. Ain't he a sweetie? Hey, where's my daughter!?"

"Here you go, dear, " Hera said, handing him the other baby.

"Thanks Grandma. Sorry 'bout all that." He said, staring down at his children. Hera smiled and kissed him on the forehead and he looked up at her in surprise.

"Never mind Strife, it happens." Cupid stood to the side, not sure if he was welcome. Strife looked over at him and frowned.

"Whataya doin' over there, Cupe?"

"Huh?"

"Where's my cuddle?! We all want cuddles, me and tha kids. And, look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it." Cupid smiled back and practically bounced over to the bed, getting in beside him. Strife smiled and leaned against him.

Ares went over to Joxer where he lay on a couch. Apollo had his hands over him, reading him.

"What's going on?"

"I'm not sure. He shouldn't be like this, Ares. I…" A flash of deep rose pink light appeared, and then a strange goddess appeared.

"Oh aren't they just precious?" She said, smiling at the babies. Hera, who had her back to her, turned around quickly and stared.

"Mother?"

"Mom!" Joxer suddenly shot up and ran to her, knocking Apollo over on the way.

Reaching her he stared, but then Rhea opened her arms and smiled.

Hera, tears running down her face, was close behind and all three held each other as the others in the room stared.

Realising no more screams had occurred for some time now, Zeus opened the door to see what was going on.

Part 22 by Druid

~*~*~*~*~*~

All eyes snapped to the door as it was slammed open and a startled squeak echoed through the room.

"Momma?!"

For a few quiet seconds, no one spoke as Zeus' eyes began to glisten unexpectedly. Just as Ares was about to explain what Rhea was doing there, he heard something that he'd never thought he would. His adam's apple bobbing frantically, the King of the Gods couldn't hold it in any longer.

*sniffle*

And he then launched himself at the diminutive Titaness, before scooping her up in a bone-crushing hug. Rhea squealed in delight as she was lifted off the floor and twirled about the room. Everyone else present simply gaped in astonishment as the normally serious and angry Zeus acted like a child on Solstice morning. The revelry continued, until Hera cleared her throat…Loudly.

Putting Rhea down, Zeus straightened his robes sheepishly, "Eh-hem. Yes, well then. Mother, how are you here? I did not think that even Hades had the power to release you from your imprisonment in Tartarus. What has changed?"

As Zeus was asking these questions, the ancient sun goddess was attempting to put her tousled hair back into some sort of order. Gods, she hated it when someone mussed her coiffeur. And Eros had done such a nice job with it...this time, anyway. Hopefully, her youngest wouldn't try to squeeze the immortality from her again for a while.

Her children always had been so easily excitable.

Drawing herself up regally, she summoned a velvet-cushioned chair. She sat gracefully as she regarded the gods in her presence. Smiling softly, she began to recount her tale.

"Well, baby boy...I'm not sure of all of the details. But, from what your older brother was able to explain to me, it seems that a temporary, or sometimes even permanent, release from Tartarus is possible for us Titans." At Zeus' horrified look, she quickly moved to reassure him, "OH! No, no, no! We cannot release ourselves. Only in very particular circumstances may this event be allowed to pass."

Sagging with relief, the thunder-bearer sent up a prayer to the Fates, thanking them that his psychotic relatives would not be rising en masse again. However, something in his mother's last sentence still left him wondering and he voiced his confusion.

"But, I don't understand, Mother. What are these circumstances that you mentioned? And why have they not happened previously?"

Frowning slightly, Rhea responded, "I'm not sure of the full explanation, but I am sure of one thing. I could only have been released if my help had been needed. Only if I had been called on by War...but for the cause of Peace."

Zeus took in a sharp breath as he quickly glanced at his son, whose arms were protectively wrapped around his love. When Rhea noticed just where her youngest son's gaze had fallen, her face became stony.

"Yes, child. I am QUITE aware of how you've been treating Joxer for the past few millennia." It was almost comical how fast Zeus snapped his eyes back to face his mother, "I am not pleased, Boy. I though I'd raised you better than that. Your treatment of Joxer and everyone else's fear of your wrath is what prevented any of us from being called on in times of dire need. I expected better of you, Zeus. However, I'll speak with you about this in private later...at length. As for now, Ares also managed to release someone, albeit unknowingly, that I believe will be able to help in this situation."

Sending a silent summons, Rhea called out to her fellow immortal. As a bright purple vortex opened in the center of the room, everyone gazed in awe as a woman of untold raven beauty stepped unfalteringly from its indigo depths. When the mother of the Muses finally halted before them, a hushed name escaped Zeus' tongue.

"Mnemosyne..."

And just as the ethereal Titaness of the Mind parted her pale lips to respond, a noise *urp* followed closely by a frantic shriek could be heard.

"AHHH! Getitoffgetitoffgetitoff! Why am I always the one who kids spit up on?! Do you know how much of a bitch it is to get baby puke out of feathers?!"

Part 23 by Carrie

~~~

Everyone turned to look at the Love God as he frantically tried to concentrate enough to will the icky baby puke out of his feathers.

Cupid made a face and took the baby he held against his chest in his hands and handed her back to Strife.

"Ew." Cupid made one final disgusted look behind him at his wings and then flashed them clean. Strife just laughed at his husband and coo'd at his baby girl who, apparently, was going to take after him.

"Ahem." Mnemosyne cleared her throat for the attention to be drawn back to her.

"Zeus, for your actions, recent or otherwise, against Joxer, God of Peace I have determined that you must relive all the painful emotional memories in his mind to make ammends. If Joxer does not agree that this is suitable enough punishment... " She trailed off gesturing to Joxer for his input into her explaination as to what his punishment would be.

Joxer looked to Ares and into his eyes, mentally speaking to him, and thought for a moment before continuing, turning to look at Zeus. "Then you will be left to the mercy of your son, Ares. By agreeing to this you leave him the option of any punishment he deems worthy, even your dethronement."

Ares smirked.

Joxer finished and moved to his fellow Titan and created a small couch for them both to sit. "It's good to see you, Mnemosyne."

"You too, Jox." Mnemosyne smiled and embraced the God of Peace in a hug.

Zeus paled at Joxer's words and stared blankly before glaring angrily at the God that dare threaten his kingship. "My dear Peace," Zeus started sarcastically. "It would be my pleasure to agree with your terms." He smiled cruelly, thinking he surely could endure anything, plus more, that Joxer ever could. Surely.

Joxer looked up to Zeus. "So be it." he smiled as Zeus was abruptly flashed out of the room.

"Where has he gone?" Rhea asked.

"The Halls of Time. He will be confined there until he has felt all the pain." Joxer answered her. "Now, we must have some catching up to do."

He gestured at Hera for her to join them as Rhea smiled and Joxer smiled back at his mother. He grasped Mnemosyne's hand and nodded to the others in the room before flashing into a private room in his temple.

~

"Dad?" Cupid questioned, moving closer to his father.

Ares turned and smirked once again.

"Yo, Unc!" Strife shouted, quietly as he'd just finished settling the babies down into the bed and shuffled to the edge of the bed to stand and make his way over to stand beside Cupid.

"Whats up with him?" Cupid asked his husband.

"Dunno. Unc! Hey!" Strife waved a hand in front of Ares' face.

"Zeus will either go insane from the horrid pain in Joxer's memory, or he'll be stronger for being able to endure it." Ares finally said. "Jox, Mnem., Mother and Grandmother don't think he has the strength for it. It's left to me to decide what to do with him afterwards. Including taking the throne."

"So, what're you gonna do?" Cupid asked and Strife's face was saying exactly what Cupid had expressed verbally.

"Well, if he's insane that means he is unfit to rule and would just cause corruption and chaos throughout the pantheon and the mortal world. I'd strip his kingship from him, take the throne, and just leave his weather godhood. If he resists I could kill him." A brush of sadness at the thought of killing his father passed across his face for a moment. Ares did love his father, even if he was a mean old coot. "Or if he becomes more powerful, we'd still get the chaos and I might be forced to kill him for our own good."

"What happens if you kill him?" Strife asked.

"To Zeus? Not sure. I'd have to speak to Hades about that one. Maybe in the same type of deal as the Titans imprisonment." Ares took a breath and kept explaining what he knew. "On Olympus? I'd assume the throne and have to take my Queen."

//Queen?// Ares thought to himself. //What about two Kings? Would he even want to be my consort now?//

"Dad?" Cupid asked again. "You ok?"

"Yeah. Fine, son." Ares smiled. "Congradulations on the twins, you two. I'll leave you to them." He briefly hugged Cupid and nodded at Strife before he flashed out of the room.

Strife poked Cupid, who was still looking confused at the place where his father had stood, in the side. "Hey," he smiled at Cupid and pulled him towards the bed. "You look tired."

"I am," Cupid smiled at him. "I need a nap."

As Cupid crawled into the bed he snuggled his arms around their two children and fell fast asleep. Strife smiled gently and got in the other side of the bed and did the same, to protect their babies and to rest his head beside the man he loved.

~

Ares reappeared in the hallway outside of the room where Joxer and the others had moved to. He took a breath and knocked on the door. He needed to talk to Joxer privately concerning what he had concluded about this whole situation.

Part 24 by Corona

It wasn't Joxer who opened the door but Rhea. She regarded him frigidly for a beat, then shook her head.

"It can wait Ares" he shook his own. Laid a hand against the doorframe and leant into his Grandmother's personal space.

"I don't think it can" he paused when her eyes narrowed and carefully leant back.

"And that isn't all I want to talk about" Rhea raised a hand.

"You're War, you know better than that. Trust is not won by force"

"I don't intend to use any" Rhea waved a hand at his entirely hostile posture. Ares sighed, eased back even further. A pale hand appeared on her regal shoulder.

"Mother please, I need to talk to him" Rhea raised an eyebrow, Joxer smirked. It was obvious a mental debate was going on. Finally Rhea sighed, kissed Joxer on the cheek and let him through. She shook her head, scowled at Ares and waved the door shut.

"Ares" Joxer said quietly, and without pausing, leant into him. Ares blinked in surprise as Joxer laid his head against a shoulder. Ares didn't question, just wrapped his arms around Peace and against his nature attempted to breath him in. Joxer stepped back much too soon and Ares felt oddly bereft.

Joxer smiled gently. "I forgive you" Ares let all the breath ease out of him. Couldn't help but feel he didn't deserve that.

"So easily?"

"It is my nature" he looked away.

"I know what you came to say, this is quite a mess I've inadvertently made" Ares felt obliged to take some of the credit, damn his ego.

"Not just you, but I think there will be more to come"

Joxer pressed his palms against his temples.

"We'll see" he turned his head to face Ares again. He looked like himself again. Tired, fretful but otherwise normal. Ares had missed him, it seemed stupid but he'd thought Joxer permanently damaged someway.

"I do love you" Joxer said softly, though not with any joy. Ares wrapped a hand around a slender arm.

"Then be my consort, you know how I feel"

"Do I?" Ares shifted, the hand on Joxer's arm tensed slightly and released him. Ares tried to open his mouth and say it because it had to be obvious now. It felt like every blasted God for a hundred miles knew. Finally he drew a breath, but Joxer seemed to think he'd remain silent, carried on.

"If Zeus is found incapable of rule after his journey through my past and you are crowned king of Olympus I will be your consort" Joxer said softly.

Ares sucked a breath, stared in surprise. Not sure whether to be exhilarated or suspicious, settled for both. Joxer watched him quietly, hands fidgeting with the tie of his robes. Finally he sighed and continued.

"But by law if Zeus is fit to rule everything changes"

Ares eyes narrowed and swept over Joxer's face, trying to read it. He would refuse him? Joxer would only be his consort if he was king of Olympus? That wasn't possible, it wasn't Joxer. He remembered belatedly what Asclepius had said about no one really trying to get to know him.

"What do you mean?" Joxer sighed again, eyes sliding to him and then away, finally he pressed his palms together and chuckled quietly.

"I'm older than you Ares, and a Titan, ancient law would make you mine."

---

Zeus tugged his robes straight as the doors slammed behind him. He was the king of the Gods, there was nothing Peace could throw at him that he hadn't seen before.

"I'm here" he stated loudly, smugly. Silence was all that answered him.

"I said I'm here!" he snapped

"Get on with it"

//As you wish// the soft words were amused, and they weren't one voice but three, in perfect unison.

---

"Hello little ones" a delicate hand caressed one tiny chin, then another.

"Haven't we been born into an eventful world Hmm" Mnemosyne sighed softly and leant on a hand.

"Is it ironic you think for the Goddess of the Mind to be forgotten amongst mental chaos and anguish?" she looked down and was gurgled at, finger sucked hungrily into a greedy mouth.

"Oh yes I know you're far too little to understand, but you are precious"

"Life is not the only tapestry you know, only the weave and weft of the mind are far more complex. Of course there's-" Mnemosyne sighed and shook her head.

"You don't care yet do you" a kick and another pleased gurgle. Oh well there was always someone else she hadn't seen for a while. She pulled the air around her and vanished.

tbc


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