AresJoxerCupidStrife - Scribe


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


Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 1/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena/Hercules
Pairing: For the series, mostly Ares/Joxer, but who knows who might show up?
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Series
Summary: Joxer and Ares consider having another child.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: Well, I gave their own stories of the pregnancies for Impetua and Accord, and I'm working on one for Polly. Since I made Ares pregnant in Childhood Sweethearts, I ought to do that one, too. :) Since I'm going to be going into greater depths about a time period partially covered by Childhood Sweethearts, I thought it might be better to start it now, while it's fresh in my mind. This starts right around, or a little before Childhood Sweethearts.
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 1/?
by Scribe

Chapter One
Longing Stir

Ares drifted up from sleep gradually. This was a luxury he'd seldom allowed himself in his life BJ (Before Joxer). When he was younger he'd spent a lot of his time in the physical realm of Earth, before he'd become convinced that he didn't have to micromanage--oversee every tiny squirmish. And when you slept on the front lines of a war--God or no--you'd damn sure better sleep with one eye open, and be able to be awake and alert in a flash.

Now he usually slept in the security of his own home, and he slept with someone he knew would give up his own life to protect him. He knew this literally. Joxer had almost died protecting him from an enraged hydra, had gone into the situation head up, eyes wide open, and silly helmet tilted half over his face. He hadn't thought much before he charged the scaly beast about to take a hefty bite out of his god, but if he had... Joxer wasn't stupid, as he'd often been accused of being. (A bit self-delusional, perhaps, but that could be endearing). If he HAD thought--most warriors would have stepped quietly away, hoping that when Athena took over as Goddess of War she wouldn't hold grudges.

It wasn't just the sense of physical security that made it easy to make a slow climb to consciousness--there was the emotional security, too. Along with Joxer's loyalty had come love--love for the man, as well as the god. Love that reminded Ares that he was more than just War, much more. He was a friend, a man, a son, a brother, a lover, and a father.

As this thought occured to him a small smile formed on his lips. Yes, he'd always known he was a father. Cupid, Xena, Deimos, Phobos, and by extension Strife--they were all his children. He hadn't been able to be as large a part of their upbringing as he'd have liked, but then there was Accord.

Accord was the first child he'd raised in a day-to-day, intimate, hands on manner. The child was a part of himself, a part of the man he loved. If it ever came down to a choice between who he would save--Joxer, or Accord... Ares just hoped that it never came down to that. Even with all his skills and divine powers he might find himself paralyzed by the need to choose. And if he lose either of them... Well, the only reason he'd survive something like that would be for the sake of the one who survived. If he lost both, he wouldn't have to wait for the coming of the twilight.

These things swam at the back of his mind, but he didn't really consider them. He was warm, comfortable, and peaceful. He'd been none of these things often enough to appreciate the state when he had it. He opened his eyes, his gazing going to the side, seeking his mate. He loved to watch Joxer sleep. Even the occasional drool or snore only made Ares love him more.

He didn't get the chance this time, though. Joxer was awake, lying on his side, arm bent, head propped in hand as he watched Ares. Ares grunted, rubbing his eyes. "How long?"

Joxer knew what he meant. "Oh, just a couple of minutes. I never get long enough. I think you have some sort of extra sense that lets you know when someone's watching you."

"Everyone has it, Joxer. You've felt the back of your neck prickle before. I just pay attention to mine."

Joxer lay back down, but moved over till he was pressed against Ares. Ares took the hint, putting his arm around Joxer and pulling him into a close embrace. "That was a nice smile you had on your face. What were you thinking about?"

"Lots of things. Mostly about how happy I am." He squeezed his husband. "And how much of that is because of you and Accord."

"That's nice to know."

They were quiet for a moment, then Ares said, "And I was thinking that it would be nice if I missed a few lazy mornings and peaceful nights." Joxer raised his head far enough to give Ares a puzzled look. "You remember how it was right after Accord was born?"

"Do I? There were times when I thought that I'd somehow managed to piss off Hypnos. I also remember the long nookie dry spell."

Ares made a face. "There's that, but there were trade-offs, weren't there."

"Sure. I can think of one big one." He smiled. "I think he's about reached six feet tall now. We made a great kid together, Ares."

"We sure did." Ares was silent for a moment. "Want to try for another one?"

Joxer didn't exactly jerk in surprise, but his head did lift abruptly. "You're kidding." No response. "You're not kidding."

"And you don't like the idea." Ares' voice was level, but there was a faint tinge of pain.

"No, I didn't say that. I'm just... surprised. What brought this on?"

"Nothing in particular. As fond as the House of Intellect is of cause and effect, there isn't always a clear cut, single defining point." Ares turned on his side to face Joxer. "I missed out on so much of the childhood of most of my kids. I've found that even though there's a lot of stress and inconvenience involved--I like it."

"It has it's moments," Joxer agreed.

"So, what do you think? And I mean that--think. Don't just say what you think I want to hear."

"Oh, don't worry about that, Ar." Joxer gave him a grin. "I quit that very early in our marriage. Give me a minute." He rolled on his back, staring up at the ceiling. Ares didn't push him--he just went over his own thoughts, making absolutely sure that he WAS sure. Finally Joxer said, "You know, I've been thinking the same thing for some time now. I just didn't really realize it till you said it out loud. I WOULD like another child." He grinned again. "Before I get too old to enjoy them."

Ares rolled his eyes. They were Gods--that wasn't going to happen, but it was just like Joxer to tease about his formerly mortal state. "I'm glad. How do you think Accord would take it?"

"Personally? I think he'll be all for the idea. He squabbles with Impetua, but that's just natural for teenagers."

"You know, I think he envies Bliss a little for Impetua. Have you noticed how much time he spends over there?"

Joxer cut a glance at him. "Yes. Of course there could be a lot of different reasons for that, but I suppose that wanting to be around a pseudo-sibling is one of them."

Ares nodded. "I just want to be sure that his nose wouldn't be put out of joint by having another baby around."

"'Another'?" Joxer gave the word an ironic twist.

"Tartarus, Joxer--you know what I mean."

"Sure. It's just hard to get across to kids that no matter how big they get, how old they are, or how many kids of their own they have, they'll always be your baby. Anyway, I think that Accord would welcome a brother or sister. He likes kids. He'd have strangled Impetua a long time ago if he didn't."

They were quiet for a little while longer, then Joxer said. "Yeah, I'd like to have another kid. I always thought I'd have a pretty big family some day. Of course I figured that my wife would be doing the carrying and birthing." He rubbed his flat stomach. "Having one yourself is almost enough to make you believe in small families, but at least one more would be wonderful. I just had a check up with Ascelepius, and he said I'm in tip-top shape. We've already taken the conception potion this month, so I'll have at least a month to start bulking up on ambrosia. By the time I get pregnant, I'll be ready for it."

Ares rolled over half on top of Joxer. "What makes you think that you're going to be the one carrying the baby?"

Joxer stared at Ares, then chuckled. "Good one, Ar." Ares kissed him. "You're not laughing. In fact, you're not smiling."

"Yes, I am."

"No, that's not a smile--it's a smirk. You ARE serious."

"Yes."

"Yes. Yes, he says. Just like that. Like it's that simple."

"I never said it was simple, Joxer, but the decision was easy."

"Ares, you've never..."

"And neither had you, till Accord happened. We know it can be done."

"We know -I- can do it. We know -Strife- and -Hercules- can do it. But that's just three--there hasn't been a huge spate of knocked-up gods, and you know for sure that "there are some who court the possibility. Not all of them are likely to be as careful about taking precautions as we are. Since we already have evidence that I can get pregnant, why DON'T I have the baby?"

"Do you really want to?"

"I wouldn't mind. I just want to know why you're considering it when you've got a perfectly good incubator... Ow." Ares had pinched him. "Don't cut myself down--got it."

"Joxer, as much as I love you, pound for pound, you have to admit that I have a purely physical advantage." Joxer nodded. "And I know that Ace believes that you made a full recovery from Accord's rather abrupt entry into the world." He reached down and skimmed a finger along the thin, faded white scar on Joxer's abdomen. "But you scared the crap out of me, Jox. I don't want to risk you again. If we decide to go for a third child, then we'll talk about you playing mommy again. But this time I'm going to carry."

"I noticed that you've gone from 'if' to 'when'."

"Okay, back to if--if you agree." Joxer studied him. "Joxer, don't make me consider substituting sugar water for my contraceptive potion."

Joxer frowned, then smiled. "You wouldn't do that to me--trick me."

"Not now, I wouldn't. But I hear that people with baby hunger will do some desperate things."

Joxer bit his lip. "We don't have to decide right now. Ares, why don't we skip the next dose and... see what happens?"

"Compromise--I'LL skip the dosage." He tweaked Joxer's chin. "We don't do it where I'd get pregnant as much as the other way around. If it happens, then it's supposed to happen."

"Sounds good." Joxer snuggled against him.

After a minute Ares said, "Of course, if it DOESN'T happen I may have to go have a little chat with the Fates..."



Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 2/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing: Ares/Joxer
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: The Love and Mischief Series
Summary: Ares and Joxer let Ace know what they intend
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable
media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the
creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not
made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story
is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the
actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have
nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so
much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Mature
Warnings:
Notes: Hermes is God of Liars, thus Ace's reference. Yes, it's
short. I'm feeling out of sorts, so I'm just glad I can manage this.
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and
http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through
the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 2/?
by Scribe

Chapter Two

Asclepius sparkled into the audience room at the Temple of War. He
was moving before the sparks faded, rummaging in the pouch that was
tied at his belt. He called, "Ares? Joxer? Delivery to prevent
deliveries, fellas. Come out, come out. I have things to do."

He'd entered the hall that led back to the family quarters. A door
near the end opened and a dark, sleek head popped out curiously. For
a moment Ace thought it was Joxer (the height and coloring was
close), but then he saw that the hair swung down in a long, thick
braid. "Hi, Accord. Where are your dads? I have their monthly
dosage."

"I think they're out in the garden," Accord called. "But I'd knock,
or something, before I went out."

"Are they in that bad a mood?"

Accord chuckled. "Let's say that I'm not sure they're going to need
that potion."

"Did they have a big fight and cut each other off?"

"No, it's that..." Accord stopped, and there was a wicked gleam in
his eyes. "It's not for me to say, but actually I think you're more
likely to walk in on concerted panting than stoney silence." He
giggled. Accord was aware, in a technical manner, of the facts of
life, but like most teenagers he found the concept of his own parents
making hot monkey love to be a little bizarre, if not actually
upsetting.

"Then I'd better get this to them. They took that last dosage a
little early, and we're getting close to the safety limit." He
hesitated. "Is there any reason why you haven't come out to greet me
properly? Not that I insist on standing on formality, but this
yelling from another room is going to make me think you're avoiding
me."

"Huh? Oh, I'm sorry. I'm being punished. Ares caught me walking
along the wall on the roof, so I'm grounded."

Ace nodded firmly. "Good! I've had to help you heal up more broken
bones than I should at your age." Accord rolled his eyes. "It's
true, and you know it. I hate to think what would have happened if I
hadn't put you on that extra ration of ambrosia when you were
little. I swear, I never saw anyone get into as much mischief since
Strife was little." Accord grinned. Being compared to the Mischief
God was a definite plus among the younger generation of
Olympians. "You're restricted to your room for how long?"

"Um, well... It's not really that. I had a choice of either missing
my sleep over with Bliss tonight or doing a week of solitary in my
room. Technically I can go anywhere in the temple, but I'm staying
in my room. I thought maybe that would impress the dads about how
serious I am."

"And maybe make them feel a little guilty?"

"Well..."

"Has it worked?"

"Not so's you'd notice it."

"Just a hint, Accord--guilt is much more effective when it flows from
parent to child. I'll see you around." Ace found the door leading
out to the garden, and hesitated. Accord was right--discretion was
called for. The God of War was not likely to react well to having a
bout of hot love abruptly interrupted. Ace didn't bother with a
polite tap, though--he pounded, calling, "If you're not doing
anything, tell me. If you are, get it over with. I have your
potions, and I have errands to run. I haven't got all day to hang
around in the hall while you two bask in the afterglow."

"Spoilsport." It was Joxer's voice. "Come on in, Ace."

Ace opened the door and stepped outside, then came to an abrupt halt,
staring. It was a sight odd enough to warrent pause. There was an
arcane pattern of small, metal arches set up on a smooth swatch of
grass, with a colorfully striped wooden stake at either end. Joxer,
shirtless, was preparing to tap a bright yellow wooden ball with a
very long handled wooden mallet, obviously aiming to send it through
one of the hoops. Ares leaning on his own mallet, watching his
husband. He was wearing nothing but a loincloth. "What on earth are
you two doing?"

Joxer tapped the ball. It rolled right up to the arch, but stopped
just under it. Joxer pointed quickly at Ares. "It counts!"

"Does not," Ares protested. "It has to go THROUGH the wicket on the
first tap for it to count. Take 'em off, Joxer."

"Oh, all right," Joxer grumbled. He laid aside his mallet and
started to open his pants.

"I don't know what you're complaining about. Two more losses and
I'll have to shave my beard to pay the forfeit." Ares glanced at
Ace. "It's called strip croquet. The croquet bit was brought back
from the future--the strip part was Strife's suggestion."

"Why am I not surprised?" said Ace. He pulled two small vials from
his pouch and held them up. "I brought your monthly potions. You'd
better take them before you get amorous, unless you want to get
reacquainted with diapering."

Joxer, down to his own loincloth, was folding his pants. "Um, about
that--you only need to leave one of those."

Ace frowned. "One?" Then his face lighted. "Ohhh... So you've
finally decided to go for it, have you? That's wonderful. I love
having little ones to look after. I'm going to encourage a
subdivision of my worship where doctors devote themselves
specifically to treating children. I'm going to call it pediatrics.
You know, from pais--child, and iatros--healer." He became
businesslike. "But if you're going to go for another child, I'll
want to do a more indepth examination, just to be absolutely certain
there will be no surprises. Joxer, when can you come over?"

Joxer and Ares exchanged looks. Joxer said, "Any time you like--but
I'm not the one you'll need to examine."

Ascelpius blinked. "But you said..."

Ares said, "And you won't need to give me all the usual lectures. I
sat through them all with Joxer, remember?"

Ace stared at the war god. Ares returned the look blandly, but Joxer
was snickering behind his hand. Finally taking pity, Joxer
said, "Yeah, it came as a surprise to me, too, but he's really
determined about this. We're not really going to be working at it,
but we're going to see what happens if we don't use the contraceptive
potion."

Ace swallowed. "Okay. I should warn you--the effects may take a
while to wear off. I've noticed that the longer someone uses the
potion, the longer they seem to go before becoming pregnant after
they stop using it. You two have been using it since Accord was
born, and that's a pretty good length of time, even for a god."

"Thanks for the warning," Ares drawled. "We're in no hurry." He
gave Joxer a significant grin. "That takes a lot of the fun out of
it. I tell you what, though--I'd appreciate it if you kept this to
yourself."

"Of course," said Ace promptly. "Dad and I had that written into the
oaths that our followers take when they become healers. What passes
between a healer and a patient stays between them, unless the patient
specifically WANTS it made public."

"I trust you, Ace, and I'm sure Apollo wouldn't maliciously spread
rumors, but..." Ares shrugged.

"Yeah, Dad IS a bit of a congential gossipper," Ace admitted. "Look,
I won't tell anyone unless I think that your health is endangered."

"Fair enough. Now, either grab a mallet and prepare to be beaten
into nudity," said Ares, swinging his mallet idly, "or leave the
potion and go on about that business you're so concerned with."

"I promised to go have a talk with Cupid about letting Imp get her
navel pierced, and if you don't think THAT'S serious..."

Joxer snickered. "Are you for, or against?"

"I'm just presenting the facts. Either side could screw up my love
life for a long, long time to come."

"Yeah," Joxer agreed. "And I pity anyone who ever gets BOTH of them
on their case. Just imagine... Falling deeply in love with someone
who can't stand you, and someone you think is a toad falling in love
with you, and them developing homicidal jealousy over anyone who even
looks at you..."

"Please. If I want nightmares, I'll talk to Morpheus." Ace laid one
vial down on a small table. "Remember, if you change your mind and
decide you want to take precautions, I'll need to examine you before
you dose yourself again. If you're pregnant and don't know it, and
take a prophylactic potion on top of it... Well, it could be nasty."

"Not gonna happen, Ace," said Ares firmly. "I had to work too hard
to convince Joxer that this was the way to go."

"I wasn't that stubborn," Joxer protested.

"You weren't? Did I or did I not have to suggest calling on our son
in his official capacity as God of Mediation?"

"Suggest? I thought that was a threat."

Ace was shaking his head. "You know, if I told most people on
Olympus that you two were arguing about who was going to carry the
next baby, they'd have no trouble believing it. But if I told them
that you were BOTH wanting to do the actual gestation, I think I'd
have a few people tell me to go make a sacrifice to Hermes. I'm
going to want to know the second--the SECOND--that either of you has
a suspicioun. Got it?"

"You're going to be a Pregnancy!Nazi, aren't you?" said Ares.

"A what?"

"I'll explain it if the situation arises."

"Okay." Asclepius got ready to transport. "You know, it wouldn't be
a bad idea for BOTH of you to increase your ambrosia intake now,
and..."

"Sieg heil."

"What?"

"Need to know basis."

"I'm getting out of here. Usually someone doesn't go crazy till the
pregnancy is a few months advanced." He flashed out.

"I believe it was my turn," said Ares. He bent over his shiny red
ball, studying it.

"I'll bet you," said Joxer, "That you don't get it through the hoop
in one stroke."

"We've already established that if I don't I literally lose my
drawers."

"Side bet. If you don't make it through the hoop, we get to play
warlord and slave boy."

"Hmm... Who's the slave?"

"You know very well that you can't really do slave--you can only do
noble, conquered warrior."

"I will be willing to make a side bet in a moment, Joxer, but I
actually hadn't intended to put the ball through the hoop."

Joxer blinked. "But you have to in order to set it up for a drive at
the stake. What reason could you have for not...? OH, NO YOU
DON'T!" Ares, grinning evilly, tapped the ball. It rolled across
the smooth grass and clicked gently against Joxer's yellow
ball. "Ares, don't you DARE do that again! I had to hunt in the
grass for ten minutes last time." Ares put his foot on his own ball,
pressing it down firmly. "If you do that when you aren't wearing
your boots it's going to be like banging your foot on something hard."

"If I accomplish my goal it will be worth it. And remember, I said
I'd do a side bet with you."

"What is it?"

"Same as you liked, but I DO get to be slave boy. I can do it. I'll
just be a slave lulling his master into complacency, while I plan to
later take lustful revenge." He wiggled his eyebrows.

Joxer felt a tingle, but he wasn't quite ready to give up a good
snit. "What, exactly, are you betting me you can do? I KNOW you can
whallop my ball off the green."

Ares pointed at the far garden wall. "I have to make it hit that
wall."

Joxer snorted. "Fine. You could almost get tired walking to that
thing. I hope you're feeling rested, because I'm going to want you
to wear me out."

"M-hm." Ares drew back his mallet, drawing it back till he looked
rather like a future pro golfer getting ready to tee off. The mallet
whistled through the air when he swung it. It connected with the red
ball with a sharp crack...

Then there was another crack as the yellow ball more-or-less
exploded. Joxer, standing to the side, still ducked as a flurry of
wood shards blasted through the air like schrapnel, and pattered
against the garden wall. He lowered his hands from where he'd been
protecting his eyes and stared, stunned, as the last bits of wood
dropped into a small heap at the foot of the wall. He looked back at
Ares.

Ares twirled the mallet, looking smug. "Splinters count. Now,
Master, what's your pleasure?"

Joxer smiled almost reluctantly. He went over to Ares and gave him a
strong embrace, letting his hands slide down to squeeze Ares' firm
ass. "You are, Ar. You most definitely are."




Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 3/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing: Joxer/Ares
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Love and Mischief Series
Summary: They're sure--sort of.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult
Warnings:
Notes: The other stories in the Love and Mischief Series can be found at http://www.AresJoxerCupidStrife.com under my Scribe pen name
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 3/?
by Scribe

Six Months Later

"Hey Ares, let's try something different," said Joxer. "How about YOU screw ME this time?"

"Nice try, Joxer. Now, are you going to hand me the oil, or are you going to make me think some up?" Joxer flopped back on the bed and pulled a pillow over his face. Ares stretched out beside him, saying calmly, "You know, that isn't at all flattering."

Voice muffled, Joxer spoke from beneath the pillow. "Don't get me wrong, Ar. I LOVE fucking you, but dammit, it's gotten to be a steady diet. And I don't care how prime your rump roast is--when that's all you get, you get hungry for a little chicken or pork."

"Joxer, neither one of us is chicken, and if you're interested in porking something..." Joxer groaned. "You're right. I've spent too much time with Strife lately, but I thought that maybe he could give me some tips on getting knocked up."

Joxer moved the pillow and peered at him. "I'd have paid to hear that conversation."

"The only tip he could give me was to get screwed as often as possible..."

"Which you've been doing."

"And to relax and let Nature take its course. I'm about ready to go have a talk with Gaia."

"Go on. She'll just laugh and then set you to weeding, or something." Joxer sighed, then rolled on top of Ares. "It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it."

"Look, if it's become a chore..."

Joxer kissed him. "Shut up. I just like to bitch occasionally. It's nice to have someone who actually listens to me after all those years of bouncing words off Gabrielle and Xena." Joxer squirmed against Ares, doing an excellent snake imitation. They were both totally erect very quickly. Then Joxer dipped his fingers in the bowl of sweet smelling oil on their bedside table. "Assume whatever position turns you on." Ares smiled, then lifted his legs quickly, almost acrobatically, and hooked his knees over Joxer's shoulders. "If your back can take it, I'm all for it." He reached down and probed carefully but firmly. "As often as we've done this lately, I'm almost surprised that we still need to do this each time." Joxer moved closer, getting in possition, then pushed forward. Ares purred, and Joxer groaned. "And you keep accusing Hercules of being the tight ass in the family."

It was a long, slow joining. It pretty much had to be. Several months of vigorous fucking, two or three times a day, will wear out even a god. But what Joxer might have lacked in vigor, he made up in dedication and love. One side benefit of the experience in screwing that he'd accumulated lately was how to conserve enough breath to actually speak coherently during coitus. Ares was considering trying to talk Joxer into a gag, so that he could concentrate. But what Joxer was saying now made him a little ashamed of the thought. Joxer said, "Ar, do you remember the very first time we did this?"

"Do you mean the first time we had sex, or the first time we did..." he squeezed, wringing a happy groan from his partner, "THIS?"

"Buh-both."

"First time ever was in the bathing pool. First time for this," he reached up and stroked Joxer's face, "was our wedding night."

"You remember what it was like, so special?"

"It's always special with you, Joxer."

Joxer kissed Ares again. "I love doing this, and I love you, but damn it, Ar--I want that, too." He bent his head and nipped at Ares' collarbone. "I love being inside you, but I love having you inside me just as much. Can't we have that every now and then? We've been trying so hard to get you pregnant... Remember that Strife said to relax? Maybe we're trying too hard."

Ares reached around, grabbing Joxer's ass and pulling him in even tighter, squeezing. "All right, lover. Maybe you're right. Scribe has that saying about a watched pot not boiling, so maybe if we... Oooo." He arched as he climaxed, his come spraying Joxer's belly. "Next one of those you get to catch."

Joxer grunted, and came in a short flurry of strokes, then collapsed on top of Ares. "Thank you, Hot Stuff."

Ares chuckled, running his hands lazily down Joxer's back. "Does this mean that you're going to be willing to pretend to be either Jett or Jayce if I ask?"

"Jayce. I can do Jayce, but if I was going to be realistic and pretend to be Jett, I'd have to fight with you before you could top me." He rolled his eyes up thoughtfully. "You know, I bet Scribe would be interested in seeing that. She's a nice woman, but she's got a really kinky mind."

"Bless her." Joxer rolled off Ares and snuggled against his side. Ares embraced Joxer and stared up at the ceiling, frowning slightly. "Joxer? How did you know when you were pregnant?"

"Hmm. Well, looking back, it was about a month after I ate the ambrosia." He pinched Ares' hip. "I think it happened in the garden, by the way. I guess I should have known when I started upchucking every morning, but that didn't happen for another month-and-a-half, two months. I thought I just had some sort of divine bug, but then it didn't go away, and I just felt... odd. Then... You know that time we talked in the garden about how I wanted to find out what my godhood was, how I wanted to do something? You knew I was feeling whoopsie, and were a little worried, but I told you to go on inside, it would pass?" He looked at Ares expectantly. Ares nodded. "I felt it... felt HIM move. And I knew. I knew that nothing was ever going to be the same again, and I was glad. So, all in all, I was... um... three months along before I was sure."

"That sounds about right."

"Yeah. Some women claim that they can tell earlier. I guess it's true, but with guys I suppose it's harder, since we don't have any monthlies to count from."

They were quiet for another moment, then Ares said, "Joxer?"

"Hm?"

"I threw up this morning." Joxer raised his head and stared at Ares. Ares continued to look up at the ceiling. "In fact I've thrown up each morning for about two weeks now."

"Ar?"

"And yesterday I caught myself eating pickled cabbage."

"That stuff that you claimed had to be one of Strife's inventions?"

"And I mixed mint and mustard into it."

Joxer sat up abruptly. "Oh, Zeus!" He rolled out of bed, and was dressed before his feet hit the floor. "Get dressed!"

Ares blinked at him. "Don't you usually like to bask in the afterglow?"

"This is no time to joke." Joxer waved his hand.

When Ares pushed the sheets down he found that he was dressed--in loose linen rather than leather. "Oh, no WAY!" He flicked his hand and his clothes changed to his normal outfit. "I'm going to need those soon enough--I'm not getting into maternity clothes till I HAVE to. And why, pray tell, do I have to get dressed at this time of night?"

"We're going to see Ace."

"What?"

"And maybe Apollo. I can drop you off with Ace, then go get him."

"Joxer--IT'S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT."

"And Ace said we were to see him THE SECOND we suspected you were knocked up." Joxer shook a finger at him. "And you've been hiding it! ARES!"

Ares blinked at him mildly. "Well, damn, Joxer. I wasn't sure till... I'm STILL not really sure. I mean, there's no objective evidence, and..."

"SUSPECT! That means if you have even a hint of an inkling of an idea that it MIGHT POSSIBLY have a chance to be so." He stopped, panting.

"You had to take a deep breath to get that all out, didn't you? I get the idea. You sure we can't wait till morning? I mean, if I AM pregnant, the baby isn't going anywhere."

Joxer put his face close to Ares' and growled, "Not if we make sure that nothing is wrong."

Ares studied Joxer, seeing the worry, pride, and joy mingled in his eyes. His expression softened, and he nodded, saying quietly, "Yes, Joxer."

Some of the tension went out of Joxer's posture. He went to Ares and took him in his arms. "You really think this might be it?"

Ares nodded. "I do. I feel..." He hesitated. "Joxer, you know how much my family means to me, and how connected I feel to you all? Well, lately I've been feeling... not alone." He gave Joxer a helpless look, hoping that he hadn't sounded as if he were belittling the people in his life.

"Oh," said Joxer softly. "Yes. I remember that." He laid a hand lightly on Ares' belly. "There's going to be times that you'll think you would cut your throat to be alone again, but those times pass quickly. The good times when you KNOW you aren't alone will outweigh them by a long shot." He pressed his forehead to Ares' then said, "You know, if you ARE pregnant, then you need your rest. Flying off somewhere in the middle of the night can't be good for you. Why don't we go back to bed, and we can go see if we can interrupt Apollo's breakfast tomorrow?"

Ares sighed, then smiled, and there was a wicked gleam in his eyes. "Tempting, buuut... Ace said right away, and he can be really pushy when it comes to someone else's health. Let's go to Apollo's place first. I trust Ace not to have let it slip, and I can't wait to see the look on 'Pol's face."

~*~

Joxer and Ares transported to the outer audience room of Apollo's temple. It had taken Joxer a little while to persuade his husband not to just appear in Apollo's private bedroom. "Sure it would be a hoot, but have a little consideration for whatever Muse he was with at the time. And you know he's been trying to get Scribe into the sack. Not that I think he'll succeed, but can you imagine what SHE'D do if interrupted and embarrassed? The smut featuring you might suddenly become very unflattering."

The formal room was nearly empty--the only person in evidence was a quite young priest, and he was playing a flute. The sweet music cut off on a very sour note as the two gods appeared. For a moment, the young man stared at them, instrument still held to his lips. Then he laid it aside with a clatter and leaped to his feet, bowing deeply. "Lord Ares, Lord Eirini. How may I serve you?"

"By going and rousting Ace and my brother out of bed," said Ares. "We need to see them." The priest bit his lip, hesitating. "Well? Why aren't you moving?"

"My lord, it... it's very late."

"Actually, it's very early. I believe it's past midnight. You're still standing there."

"I'm sure that Asclepius will be happy to consult with you, but lord Apollo has made it known that he would be very displeased to be disturbed for anything but the gravest emergency."

"And?"

"Well... Neither of you is bleeding."

Ares gritted his teeth. "Let me put it to you this way: who would you rather have to face when they're pissed off--me, or Apollo?"

"I'll be right back." The man left so quickly that his robes fluttered.

Joxer elbowed Ares. "You're not fooling me. You're in too good a mood to have done anything bad to that man."

"Yes, but let's not let on. I have a reputation to protect, and that isn't going to be easy when I start to show."

They made theirselves comfortable. They were a little surprised when Apollo was the first to arrive, coming out of the hallway that led back to the private quarters. For once his toga did NOT drape perfectly, and he was yawning, rubbing a hand through his hair. Joxer giggled, and he glared at him. "What's so amusing?"

"Bed hair."

"For a reason--I was sleeping peacefully. What the Tartarus do you two want now?"

"An examination," said Ares.

"Oh, for...! As if you couldn't have WAITED? What sort of twinge do you have that was so urgent..."

"How about a suspected pregnancy?"

Apollo got still, expression becoming at once pleased and businesslike. "Well, that's different. You're right, given the abruptness of the last birth, this should be managed right from the start. Joxer, there's no telling when another priest might wander in, and I'm guessing you two want to keep it quiet for awhile, so follow me back to an exam room." He started toward the hall, with Joxer and Ares following. Apollo paused. "Ares, you can wait here. You still get a little antsy whenever I pay too close attention to Joxer, and I don't need to be distracted right now."

Ares folded his arms. "All right." They started off again. "But it's going to be a little harder for you to examine me from another room."

Apollo didn't exactly screech to a halt--he hadn't been going quite fast enough for that. He DID whip around so quickly that an Etruscan dancer would have died of envy. "WHAT?"

Joxer made patting motions, urging quiet. "Sh! You'll wake Cerberus with that noise. You're kind of right about us not wanting this to be common knowledge just yet, so please stop shouting."

"I'M NOT SHOUTING! I mean, I'm not shouting. But gah, guys--you can't just drop an explosive like this and expect me to be blase about it." Apollo walked over to Ares, studying him closely. He took a full turn around his brother, looking him up and down. Ares stood patiently. Normally he didn't like being peered at too closely (not unless it was Joxer, and they were about to have sex), but he knew that this was necessary.

Finally Apollo said, "How far along do you think you are?"

"Two and a half, three months."

"AND YOU'RE JUST NOW COMING TO ME?"

"Haven't I heard somewhere that stress is bad for pregnant people?"

"It's just that I can't believe you'd take a step like this without discussing it with someone. Male pregnancy is still in its infancy, if you'll pardon the horrendous pun."

"We have," said Joxer. "We've been talking with Ace for the last few months."

Apollo got very quiet. "You have?"

Joxer nodded. "And he's just about given us all the pertinent lectures, I think."

"I see."

Ace, looking a little more put together than his father, but still yawning, entered the room. "Okay, here I am. What's so urgent that...?" He saw who was waiting, and stiffened. "Ares! What's wrong? Is it...?"

Apollo rounded on him, hissing, "And precisely WHEN were you planning on telling me about this? At the naming ceremony, perhaps?"

Ace raised his hands in appeasement. "Dad, they asked me to keep quiet. You know that I couldn't in good conscience tell anyone."

"How many times do I have to tell you--when it comes to health, privacy goes out the window."

"Yes, but there ISN'T a danger to his health. I've been monitoring him ever few weeks, and he's doing fine." Ace looked at Ares, smiling. "So, does this mean what I hope it means?"

"It might," said Ares. "I think so, but you have to remember that I don't have any past experience to judge by. That's why I came to you boys. Will you please stop sniping at each other and tell me whether or not I'm going to have to fight Dite for the right to dress another child?"

Apollo flexed his fingers, shaking back the sleeves of his toga. "Let's do this right. I don't want any doubts, and I damn sure don't want any mistakes. Son, you scan him, too, and we'll compare findings. Ready?"

Ace twisted his shoulders, as if loosening up. There was a determined look on his face. "Let's go."

The two healing gods stood on either side of Ares, and extended their hands toward him. Ace closed his eyes, but Apollo kept his wide open, his gaze never wavering from his older brother. There was a lot of tension and sibling rivalry in the Olympic family, but Apollo would never let that interfer with giving the best care possible to someone who needed him.

Joxer felt the slight electrostatic buzz that so often came when a deity exercised their power. It was stronger than usual now, because there were two divinities, and both of them were really focused on what they were doing. Joxer squinted at them, concentrating on trying to detect the power that he knew had to be swirling around the trio. He saw a faint yellow glow surrounding them. He blinked, then peered even closer. Was that a pink tint just over Ares' belly? He wished Accord was here. Their son was a lot better at reading power signatures than anyone on Olympus.

Finally both Apollo and Asclepius drew almost simultaneous breaths, and dropped their hands. The two exchanged glances, and both smiled. Apollo said, "Well, judging from your expression we've both come to the same conclusion, but go on and say it out loud."

Ace gripped Ares' hand and shook it. "Congratulations, and try not to give it a family name. That's always so confusing."

Joxer whooped, both fists shooting up toward the ceiling in triumph. Ares said dryly, "Yes, yes--you're King Stud."

Joxer strutted back and forth a few steps. "You gotta admit, there aren't many people who've gotten the God of War knocked up."

"There's precisely ONE, as you well know."

Apollo rolled his eyes. "Great. Another person to pick out natal day and solstice presents for." Then he grinned and gave Ares a one-armed hug. "I never thought I'd see the day. Tartarus, the idea never entered my head."

"Yeah, well--the thought would have been lonesome." But there was no sting in Ares' comment. Though there'd been some antagonism between the two brothers (especially when Apollo had expressed an interest in Joxer before he and Ares were joined), now Ares' tone held only good-natured teasing.

"Would you like to know the baby's sex?" asked Ace.

"NO!" It was a duet.

"I'm sorry--I don't want to seem ungrateful, guys," said Ares, "but we knew when Joxer was expecting, and I'd kind of like this one to be a surprise."

Apollo shrugged. "You're choice, dude. Ace, why don't you go get...?"

"Vitamins. Back in a flash." He hurried out.

Apollo turned back to Joxer and Ares. "I want you to get back and get to bed--and REST!" He shook a finger at Joxer. "There'll still be a lot of time for nookie before he gets too far along, and I want him to get at least eight or nine hours of sleep out of every twenty-four--hopefully at night, though he'll probably end up needing naps."

"Tell me about it," said Joxer. "I almost fell asleep in my lunch a couple of times."

Ace returned and handed Ares a small pouch and a jar. "Take one of these every morning. I'll probably give you others later in your pregnancy. And I brought you some extra ambrosia. Eat that before you go to bed, and I want you to have at least a little every day, and stop making faces. I happen to know that you shoveled a wagon load of that down Joxer when he was carrying Accord."

Ares accepted the directions with remarkably good grace, and he and Joxer left. For a moment Apollo and Asclepius just grinned at each other. Finally Apollo said, "You know, I really didn't mind being woke up. It's kind of nice for a healer to get good news."

Ace nodded. "I know that they don't want to know if it's a boy or a girl, but... Well, you checked, didn't you?"

"Didn't YOU?"

"Of course I did. What do you take me for? After all, YOU trained me. But it's still very small, and rather unformed. I'd like to be sure that my impression is right, and you've had a lot more experience in these things. Which is it?"

Apollo whistled, then said, "Let's just say that Ares worrying about having to fight Dite over the child's wardrobe is entirely justified..."

"Dad, that could hold true for a boy OR a girl. Dite's been known to try to put Cupid, Bliss, and Accord in outfits that Jayce would find effiminate."

"Okay, I'll rephrase that. This time the kid might not have too many objections."

"Again you're being obscure. Eris is female, and if Dite tried to get her into one of her outfits..."

"Boobs, not balls, okay? Gah, you have no subtlety sometimes."

Ace smiled. "Thought so. And I am SO not letting them talk me into giving her the 'you'll soon be becoming a woman' speech..."




Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 4/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: Ares and Joxer begin breaking the news to their loved ones.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: Part of this story is set at the same time as Childhood Sweethearts. Spot the Black Adder tribute.
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 4/?
by Scribe

Chapter Four

*Flash* *oof!*

The first sound was Ares and Joxer reappearing in their bedroom. The second was the sound Ares made as Joxer threw himself on Ares and squished him in an enthusiastic hug. "We're gonna have a BABY!" Joxer's eyes flew wide open, and he gasped, jerking away from his husband just as abruptly as he'd grabbed him. "Unless I squeeze it out of you right now. Ar, I'm..."

Ares returned Joxer's embrace. "Joxer, don't you dare apologize for hugging me. I'm going to need a lot of this in the next few months."

Joxer put his arms around Ares again, and laid his head on his shoulder. His voice was much quieter as he said. "We're having a baby."

"Yes, we are. Now, we need to decide who we're going to tell, and how."

"Accord," said Joxer immediately.

"First," Ares agreed. "And I think Eris, since she's living here. She's spent a lot more time at home since Impetua was born, and you know that she's really big on being kept up to date on any intelligence. If we're going to tell Accord, we need to tell my other kids--Cupid, Deimos, Phobos..." He hesitated.

Joxer said promptly, "Yes, you should tell Xena."

Ares nodded slowly. "How would you feel about getting them together and doing it all at once? We can have the House of Love over for dinner without raising suspicions--Dite, Heph, Cupid, Strife, Bliss."

"And Impetua."

Ares cocked an eyebrow. "Are you sure? I love Imp, but she can get a little--exuberant."

"Ares--she's Jealousy. Do you really want to deal with the fall out if she's excluded?"

"You're right, and I'm ashamed I even considered it. Don't tell her, huh?"

"Lips sealed."

"Don't believe you. If they were, I couldn't do this." He kissed Joxer deeply.

When Ares allowed him up for air, Joxer said, "I don't want to upset you in your condition, but... Gabrielle?" Ares scowled. "We can't invite Xena and not invite her."

"I don't see why not."

"It would be like Zeus inviting you over and telling you to leave me home."

"Like he wouldn't do that."

"And how would it make you feel?"

Ares sighed. "Okay. I'll just have to hope that Gabby has one of her snits and refuses to attend.

"Cheer up--that isn't at all unlikely. What about Zeus?"

Ares groaned. "Well, we didn't tell him about us or Accord's imminent arrival right away. I see no reason to change the trend."

"What about Hera?"

Ares winced. "Oo. Given Mom, her godhood, and her attitude about family, I think we'd BETTER tell her." Ares' expression became sly. "I have a cunning plan."

"Is it as cunning as Salmoneus talking to a group of prospective temple time share buyers?"

"Even more cunning. Okay, listen to this: we invite them both, but we don't make a big deal about it. It's just a nice, family dinner, aaand..." He looked at Joxer.

Joxer smiled slowly. "Zeus begs off for some reason, and Hera attends alone."

"Prob-ably."

"I hope our kid gets your brains. A little honest deviousness can be so useful sometimes."

"Ask Strife."

"I'm the one who told Accord that we were going to be trying, so I think you should give him the news."

"There's a father-son conversation I never imagined having. 'Son, I'm knocked up by your other father.'"

Joxer nodded. "Life is full of the unexpected. Ain't it wonderful?"

Ares gave Joxer a fond smile. Despite all he'd been through in his life (and parts of it had been as dark as the pits of Asphodel), he'd never lost his love of life. "Yeah, it is--mostly. Now, let's go back to bed, or I'll fall asleep in the middle of telling Accord."

"Sure, I'll go to bed, but I doubt that I'll actually get any sleep."

Two minutes later Ares looked wryly at his snoring husband, then got up to use the chamberpot.

~~~~~

Ares was sitting at the breakfast table, fidgeting. A fidgeting God of War was not a common occurance. He eyed the bowl of fruit sitting on the table before him, and flicked his fingers at it. It changed from apples and peaches to bananas and cherries. Joxer, sitting beside him, sighed. "That's the third time you've changed that. You're running out of fruits, Ar. You're going to end up doing those brown, fuzzy things that you say look like someone's *ahem* family jewels if they haven't bathed properly."

"I have to do something, Joxer, and it's that, or redo the dishes again."

"Not that, please. The last set of china you thought up had bunnies around the edge."

"I can't help it."

Joxer patted his hand. "I know. You have babies on the brain."

"And I need to TELL people," Ares burst out. "So where the Tartarus are Accord and Eris?"

"You know how it is--the one time you wouldn't mind someone being early, they're gonna be late. You stay here and I'll go rouste them."

"You don't think they left already?"

"No, I don't. It hasn't even been dawn for an hour. Accord might have been inclined to skip breakfast and get to his studying more quickly, but he's working with Apollo. The last time he did it and 'Pol found out he chewed him out, but good. Gave him the 'there are mortals starving on Earth, and YOU'RE skipping the most important meal of the day' speech. As for Eris," Joxer smirked, "I heard her come back from visiting Autolycus late last night."

"How do you know she was visiting him?" Ares asked, curious.

"She was singing that song Scribe taught her--'Love Hurts'. Anyway, she won't have been up to leaping out of bed, bright and early." He stood up. "I'll be back in a minute." As he started out of the room, not looking back, he said, "Don't change the fruit again. I like cherries."

Ares lowered his hand, muttering, "I don't know if he really knows me that well, or if it's true that when you give birth you grow a set of eyes in the back of your head."

Joxer made his way first to Eris' room, figuring it would take the most effort to get her up. Being polite, and not being a fool, he didn't even consider just walking in. To be on the safe side he stood BESIDE the door (Eris had been known to throw fireballs if awakened suddenly) and knocked.

"Exactly now suicidal are you?" snarled a husky female voice.

"Eris, it's breakfast time," Joxer called.

"Joxer? Oh, for-- I thought that you had better sense. Get lost, and I'll join you for lunch."

"Eris, please get up and come to the table. Ares and I really feel the need for some family bonding." Eris told him graphically how he and Ares could bond. "Been there, done that, thanks. I'll give you a choice--you can get up and come have breakfast, or I can stand out here and sink my old 'Joxer the Mighty' song, over and over and..."

"Fuck you, Joxer. For the God of Peace you can be very vindictive. I'll be there in about five or ten minutes."

"Please don't take any longer. Zeus knows what we'll have to eat if we delay much more." Joxer made his way to Accord's room. He knocked and received an invitation to enter. Accord, fully dressed, was sitting on the bed, braiding his hair. "Hi, Dad. Say, would you come give me a hand with this? I want to get it pretty tight to the skull in back so that it takes a little longer to start unravelling."

"Sure." Joxer sat behind Accord, unmaking the half-done braid so that he could start it anew. "I thought you'd gotten pretty good at this."

"I think I have. It's just that my arms are a little sore, and it's a booger reaching back for as long as I need to do it right."

"Why are your arms sore?"

"I never realized how much of a work-out you could get using a morter and pestle. I've been fixing medical ingredients for Apollo. He says that by the time he's through with me I'll be perfect at it."

"And he'll have a year's worth of ingredients prepared ahead of time." Joxer had been braiding quickly. Now he said, "What are you going to tie this with?"

Accord passed back a leather thong. "Dad? No bows, okay?"

"Okay. Don't blame me if you jerk out a few hairs when you take it down later. There." Joxer let the finished braid drop against Accord's back, then patted his shoulder. "Come on, before Ares comes looking for us."

Accord snorted as he stood up. "Yeah. Like I couldn't beat him at Hide and Seek."

As they exited the room, Joxer shook a finger at him. "I'm not sure he's recovered from the 'disappearing Accord' incident when you were six. Don't you EVER do that again."

"I told you it wasn't intentional. I fell asleep and didn't hear you guys calling."

"Which proves that children should be able to sleep through anything. You know how a lot of kids in Greece born around the same time as you got named after you? Well, I'm pretty sure that little boys named Accord in the far provinces of Greece were running around in a panic when Ares bellowed for you."

Eris was just coming out of her room as they passed. She hadn't donned her usual public outfit of leather and metal, but was instead dressed in a casual black cotton dress, with her hair pulled back in a careless tail. Joxer reflected that it would be hard to convince most people that the Goddess of Discord could ever look anything approaching soft or (whisper the word) vulnerable. Sure, she was naturally prickly, but she'd begun to mellow a TINY bit. Joxer dated it back to when she'd first recovered from finding out that she was going to be a grandmother.

Accord paused and bowed to his aunt, gesturing for her to preceed him down the hall. She waved at him. "G'wan, brat."

"Are you kidding? And have you behind me, pulling my tail?"

She shrugged, and the corners of her mouth quirked into a not-quite smile. "Hey, if you're going to provide such a convenient handle you have to expect someone to use it." She started toward the common room. "I wonder how long it would take Auto to grow enough to put a good tail or braid in?"

Accord made a face. "More information than I needed, Auntie."

She didn't even turn back toward him. "Some day, some how, Strife will pay for suggesting you use that title with me." They entered the room, and Eris nodded to her brother. "I hope you don't expect coherance out of me at this time of the morning."

"I'm not asking you for a debate," said Ares. "Just the pleasure of your company."

"I don't deal well with sarcasm this early in the morning, either."

As he took his seat between Joxer and Ares, Accord said, "What DO you deal well with in the morning?"

"Sleep," she said shortly.

Accord reached toward the fruit bowl. "Wow--three kinds of grapes."

Joxer looked at Ares, who cleared his throat, looking at the table. "There's some cherries, too, right next to the red grapes."

"Abundance abounds." Accord munched a few grapes, eyeing the table. "Really. Usually we don't mess with much more than bread, cheese, and fruit for breakfast." He pointed. "Honey cakes, fried potatoes... fish?"

"Kippers," said Ares. "At least that's what Strife calls them. Apparently they're going to be really big in Britain in the future."

"Looks good." Accord helped himself. "But what brought all this on? I haven't seen this much food on the outside of a banquet."

Eris was buttering a chunk of bread. "Yeah, well, you're too young to remember when Strife was pregnant with Impetua and going through his nesting stage. I swear, that boy just barely stopped short of forcefeeding everyone..." She stopped abruptly, eyes opening wide. She looked quickly at Joxer.

He spread a hand on his chest. "Don't look at me."

Eris was just starting to relax when Ares said, "No--look at ME."

There was absolute silence for about three seconds. Then Accord did a very good Joxer impression. He whooped, jumped up, and ran around to hug his father. His cheek pressed against Ares', Accord said, "Radical!"

"Uh... radical is a good thing?" asked Ares.

"Would you get it if I said 'awesome' instead?" He dashed over to Joxer and hugged him just as tightly. "This is so cool! I'm gonna be a brother."

Joxer hugged Accord back. "Yes, that CAN be pretty cool. Crazy making, but cool."

Ares was watching his sister warily. She was staring at him, expressionless. After a moment Ares said, "Okay, I know that a pregnant God of War is going to be hard for some people to deal with, but..."

Eris reached across and gripped his hand. "If Athena tries any sort of power play I'm gonna kick her skinny ass all over Olympus." She squeezed his fingers, then smiled. "And no one with a lick of sense would question the machismo of a man who would voluntarily go through childbirth."

Ares sat back in relief, blowing out a breath. "Thank goodness that's over. I haven't been that nervous since the very first time I had to address my troops, right after I'd assumed my godhood."

"Not even when you went to tell Grandad about you and Dad?" Accord asked.

Ares shrugged. "This is different. I didn't really think there was a chance of either of you lobbing a power bolt at me or him. You two are the first ones we've told..." Accord sat up straight, giving him a stern look. Before he could speak, Ares said, "BESIDES Ace and Apollo. Do you think that you'll be able to keep it quiet till we tell the rest of the family, or do I have to get out the Hephastian chains to encourage discretion?"

"Oo! I can't tell?" said Accord. "But I NEED to tell Bliss."

"We're only asking you to wait till tomorrow," said Ares. "We're inviting Bliss and the family over for dinner, so we can tell them all at once."

"Daaaaad..." Accord would never have admitted to whining (he considered himself far too mature for that), but he was giving a fair approximation.

"Ares," said Joxer. "Do you really want to be responsible for our son exploding?" Ares rolled his eyes, but he was smiling slightly. "I think that if he swears Bliss to secrecy, Bliss will be able to hold it in till we make the announcement. Why don't you go invite them to dinner tomorrow, and then if you can get Bliss alone, you can tell him, then go to Earth and invite Xena. I doubt she'll turn you down."

"Great!" *Flash*

Ares called out, "What about breakfast?" *Flash* Accord reappeared long enough to grab a honeycake with one hand and an apple with the other, laid a smacking kiss on Ares' cheek, and... *Flash* disappeared again. "You know, if he wasn't the God of Mediation, he'd have a real chance at apprenticing to Hermes."

"Not a chance," said Eris. "The kid's too honest. So, boy or girl?"

"We're waiting to see," said Joxer. "I like surprises."

"Yeah, well, when you deal with battles most of the time, I guess it's nice to have a pleasant surprise to look forward to." Eris finished her breakfast and stood. As she dusted a few crumbs off her hands, her clothing changed into her usual studded leather. "I'll keep my mouth shut about the upcoming addition till you guys make the announcement," she snickered, "but I'm not promising to give 'em an 'I've got a secret' smirk." *Flash*

~*~*~*~

The members of the House of Love were by no means lazy, but they were generally a little more laid back than most other Olympians. Cupid, Strife, Impetua, and Bliss had just begun breakfast when Accord popped into the dining room. Bliss waved. "Hey. Sit down and have something."

"Thanks," said Accord, "but I brought my own." He sat down between Bliss and Imp and began munching his cake. "You didn't honestly think they'd let me out without something to eat, did you?"

"Only if ya were comin ovah here, an' sure ta get fed," said Strife, materializing a glass of milk and passing it to Accord. "Not that we ain't thrilled ta see ya, but it's a little early fah social calls. Anythin up at home?"

"Nah." Accord's voice was casual. "The dads want to give a family dinner tomorrow, and we figured I'd better come invite you guys early, so that hopefully you wouldn't have anyhing else planned."

"Let me consult mah busy social schedule," Strife rolled his eyes briefly upward. "We're free."

Cupid gave him a mock annoyed look. "You might have asked."

"Pookie, are ya free ta go have dinner with yer big, bad dad tamarrah?"

"Yes." He looked at Bliss. "Son, do you have anything pressing?"

"My business doesn't usually work on a deadline," he said wryly. "I'm in."

"Imp, do you have anything else planned?" asked Cupid.

"I was gonna go watch that new play Jayce is in," said Impetua. "It has TWO love triangles in it."

"Let me put it this way," said Cupid. "You don't have anything else planned--period, not question mark."

She shrugged. "Sure. It'll probably run for a few months, anyway. It's got sex and deception--sure crowd pleasers."

"Fine," said Accord. "Imp, you usually can track down Deimos and Phobos, can't you?"

"Duh? Pain, Fear, an' Jealousy sorta go together, Unc."

"Can I get you to invite them for me? I need to go to Earth, and it may take me a little while to locate Xena."

Impetua cocked her head, looking interested. "They're invitin' the Twin Terrors, too? This should be interestin'. Sure, I'll ask 'em." She grinned. "Or rather I'll TELL 'em."

"Thanks. Cupid, you'll be seeing Aphrodite and Hephastus today, won't you?"

"And they're invited, too?" said Cupid. "I'll tell them. But Cord, why didn't your dads just have Hermes bring around the invitations?"

Accord looked innocent. "Oh, it's not that formal, and they figured that he had other, more important things to do."

Strife and Cupid exchanged looks that said that something was up. To the best of both their knowledge, no one on Olympus had ever thought that any message they cared to send wasn't important enough to be attended to personally by the Messenger of the Gods. But Accord was obviously enjoying some private reason for this, so neither of them called him on it.

The family finished their meal and began to scatter to their daily routines. Finally there were just Strife, Bliss, and Accord left. Strife was eyeing Accord narrowly, a small smile playing over his lips. Accord, again trying to sound casual, said, "Bliss, do you have time to show me that new scroll you got?" Bliss gave him a 'huh?' look, and Accord poked him under the table. "YOU know--the scroll?"

"Oh. Um... Yeah."

Strife waved at them. "G'wan an' share your secrets." When Accord gave him an apprehensive look, he cackled. "Nah, I don't know what it is, but secrets naturally give me a buzz."

Bliss led Accord into his bedroom. He eyed his young uncle as he shut the door, and quickly laid a soundproofing spell over the area. "Okay, what is it that you can't talk about it in front of the rest of the family? Nothing's wrong--I'd be able to tell. In fact I've been getting a real charge from the Halls of War lately. It just about knocked me out of bed last night, and I know it was too intense to be just Ares and Joxer having a really good roll together."

Accord was bouncing on his heels, full of nervous energy. He'd been trying to plan the best way to tell Bliss, but now he just blurted, "Dude, you're gonna be a nephew again!"

Bliss' face split in a pleased grin. "All RIGHT! Impetua won't be the baby anymore. She enjoys it, but she feels obligated to bitch occasionally. Uh... Which of them is...?"

"I'm glad you didn't just automatically assume it was Joxer," said Accord, "because it isn't. Ares is gonna give me a baby brother or sister. He's the best dad around." Bliss arched an eyebrow. "All right--he's in a four way tie with Joxer, Cupid, and Strife."

"Which do you want, Cord--brother or sister?"

"I hadn't really thought about it. Either one would be cool. If it's a brother maybe I can make his love life a little easier by teaching him mediation for his relationships with women... Why are you laughing?"

Bliss sat on the edge of his bed, holding his sides while his laughter died down to chuckles. "It wouldn't work that way, Cord."

"Why not? Give me three good reasons."

"Well, for one thing, logic has absolutely nothing to do with love. For another, what makes you think you understand women enough to council on what will work with them?"

"That's two. Give me one more reason."

"I'll give you two more. You might have a sister instead of a brother, and if you have a brother, he might not necessarily need advice on how to get along with women."

"Why...?"

"Think about our households for a minute."

Accord thought, then blushed, and Bliss nodded. "Right. I guess I shouldn't make assumptions even before the baby is born."

"Well, people DO automatically make some assumptions--there's no way you can cover every possibility. I'm just saying it's possible. You know that your dad's are gonna raise the new kid to be prejudice free in that area. Anyway, you won't have to worry about that for fourteen or fifteen years."

"Yeah. I guess that isn't too long. Well, I gotta go." He threw his arms around Bliss and hugged him fiercely. "I love babies!" Then he was gone in a flash.

Bliss had frozen the second that Accord touched him. Accord was fourteen, going on fifteen. *Accord, I'm here to tell you that's a long, LONG time, depending on what you're waiting for.*



Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 5/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: More invitations are made and accepted, and the family gathers.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: Research on the net says that Deimos meant panic, and Phobos means fear. I believe Deimos is usually the God of Pain in fanon, but I'm going with panic here. Exploding powder from Chin--gunpowder was invented in China. I've gone ahead and given Gabrielle immortality. After all, it's been at least seventeen or so years since the start of the series, and it wouldn't be fun to write her as an old hag--then I'd feel mean when I bashed her. Now, as a YOUNG hag, she's fair game. :)
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 5/?
by Scribe

Chapter Five

After Accord left Ares said, "Okay, which one of us invites Zeus and Hera? Which one will Zeus be most likely to refuse, and Hera most likely to accept?"

"Me," said Joxer promptly. "Zeus isn't exactly hostile toward me, but he's still a little embarrassed that his son married a former mortal. He put up with it with Cupid and Psyche, but you're the heir to the throne..." Ares snorted, "from which it would take some of that Chin exploding powder to remove him--I know. And if he doesn't want to go, Hera WILL, even if it's for no other reason than to spite him and show she's a better mother than he is a father."

"That's taken care of, then. I don't have anything urgent today. I guess I'll go see Dionysius about getting a keg of his best."

Joxer folded his arms. "And WHAT do you intend to do with it?"

Ares gave him an amused look. "Water the one glass I'm going to allow myself when we tell everyone."

Joxer hugged him. "One or two, DILUTED, is fine, but beer or ale is better, and milk or juice is better still."

"I never thought I'd hear beer or ale recommended as a healthy diet."

"Hey, you know how much Xena can put away, and look at how fit she is. I need to go make personal appearances at a couple of my temples, so I'll make the invitation before I go down." He patted Ares on the shoulder. "I want you to consider getting into the habit of taking a nap in the afternoon." Ares scowled. "It'll make it easier when I start to INSIST that you do it. Bye." He disappeared.

"When he was a mortal I'd never have suspected how bossy he could be," Ares grumbled. Then he smiled and left to walk over to Dionysius' temple. He could have just flashed over, but he supposed he ought to start getting daily exercise now.

~*~

It wasn't always an easy thing to find Zeus and Hera together, except during state occasions. They pretty much lived separate lives, except where it came to their children, or feuding. Hera was the more regular in her habits, so Joxer sought her out first. She was in her garden, as he'd expected. Hera had grown very fond of her son-in-law. They both loved children and gardening, and they'd spent a lot of time together, talking about both. Hera enjoyed telling Joxer stories about Ares as a baby and little boy. She knew that Joxer often used the information as teasing ammunition, and she liked that idea. She'd been of the opinion that her eldest boy was seriously in need of lightening up, and when Joxer came into his life he became much more stable, and even-temptered.

Hera was on her knees weeding a bed of bright flowers. Her gardening method was a little different from Joxer's and Gaia's--to protect her dress she knelt on a small, richly woven rug. She looked up as Joxer approached, and smiled at him. "Greetings, Eirni." Zeus and Here were the only Olympians who regularly used his official divinity name.

"Greetings, Lady Hera." Formalities done, he knelt beside her, pointing. "There's a weed masquerading as a flower shoot."

"Where?"

"It's in that shadow, there."

Hera plucked it. "Thank you, dear. They DO florish if they aren't pulled while young." She sat back on her heels, wiping her hand on a cloth. "Would you care for anything? Juice? Fruit?"

"No, thank you. I just finished a good breakfast. But since you mentioned food, I'm here to invite you to dinner tonight."

Hera frowned slightly. "Tonight? Let me think. I rather half-promised to drop by and see Demeter this evening." She sighed. "I know what she wants."

"Campaigning to have Hades' visitation rights ammended--like to NONE?"

"It's one of the semi-annual talks. Either Zeus or myself have to deal with Demeter's whining about once a quarter--when Persephone leaves, when she arrives, and half-way through each sojourn--because Demeter can't stand to leave it alone any longer. I'm really not looking forward to it, but..."

*Time to strategize.* "That's okay. We just wanted to do a little family catching up. If you can't make it, I'm sure Zeus will." *I hope that tone said 'and doesn't that make him a great Dad?' And I hope I kept a straight face while I said it.*

He must have, because Hera frowned, lips pinching down. "I can see Demeter some other time. Will that handsome son of yours be there?"

"Oh, I don't think Accord would want to miss this. Now I need to go invite Zeus."

Hera eyed him shrewdly. "Dear, do you WANT Zeus to attend, or do you just think you should ask him."

"Well..."

"I'll convey the invitation." She paused, then said dryly, "Though I have a feeling that he may have some unexpected, urgent business this evening."

"We'll be desolate."

"I'm sure you will. Now, unless you want to help me with the mulching..."

As he left, Joxer reflected that it would probably be hard to convince a lot of people of how cordial his relationship was with the Queen of the Gods. Hera was not noted for her patience and gentle temperment, and not all her sons and daughters-in-law as friendly a relationship with her as Joxer did. Take Psyche. The former Goddess of the Mind had narrowly escaped simply being tossed off the side of Olympus. *But then again, I'd never be stupid or slutty enough to cheat on Ares,* Joxer thought. *That's taken care of.* He stopped. *Oo. We didn't tell Accord that he should subtly discourage Gabrielle from coming.* He shrugged mentally. *Well, he knows how most everyone up here feels about her. Apollo's her god, and she's blonde and cute, and she even gets on HIS nerves. Accord ought to be able to figure it out.*

~*~

Xena and Gabrielle had just broken camp. Xena had slung her bedroll and pack on Argo, and was preparing to mount when... *FLASH*

Xena grabbed her sword and Gabrielle pulled her staff up into the ready position, held across her chest. Such a flash (well, unless there was a thunder storm) meant only one thing. The tall, dark haired young man who appeared before them, arms folded, didn't look threatened by their aggressive stances, though. In fact, he was grinning. "It's not nice to split the skull of someone who's bearing good news."

The two women relaxed immediately, their faces breaking into smile. Accord was 'one of the good ones', but then the fact that he was Joxer's child had given him an automatic advantage in their opinions. Joxer had annoyed them mightily while he traveled with him, and they'd be tongue tied to praise him, but both mentally acknowledged that he was a decent man, and a very good friend.

"How goes it, little old ladies?"

Gabrielle bent and quickly picked up one of the acorns that had made sleeping so uncomfortable last night, and pegged it at him. He dodged neatly, never bothering to unfold his arms, or stop grinning. "It's funny, I don't recall you being this much of a brat when you were little. I blame Strife."

"Why should this time be any different?" said Accord cheerfully.

"Not that we're not happy to see you," said Xena, "but what brings you down to Earth?"
He trotted over, and when he moved it was apparent how close he still was to childhood. He almost bounced. *But that could just be excitement,* thought Xena. *He's wound up about something. I hope it's something good. Olympus' version of 'good news' can differe greatly from my own.*

He bowed. "You are hereby invited to dinner in the House of War. Tomorrow night--informal. You don't have any pressing appointments, do you?"

Xena gave Gabrielle a wry look. "Pre-emptive strike--he's learning from Ares. No, Cord--nothing planned. I'll be happy to come." She hesitated, then looked at Gabrielle. "Do you want to go, too?"

Not long after Accord had been born, Hades had granted Gabrielle immortality. He'd decided that it wasn't fair for Hercules' lover, Iolaus, to have a free pass from the Underworld if Xena's couldn't, too. That had caused some grumbling on Olympus. At least as many people found Gabrielle irritating as had been annoyed by a pre-divinity Joxer--and Gabrielle hadn't done NEARLY as much to prove them wrong as he had. There had been no formal joining ceremony for Xena and Gabrielle, but only the blindest or those who didn't know them--didn't know.

Accord knew that Ares had no use at all for Gabrielle. She'd often been harsh in her treatment of his other father, and though Joxer never seemed to hold it against her, Ares most definitely did. Gabrielle had gotten a little more sensitive in her treatment of the ex-warrior, and Accord had never been exposed to her previous careless treatment of Joxer. When Accord had begun to evidence friendliness toward the bard, Ares had threatened to take him to the Halls of Time and show him exactly how she'd treated Joxer. Joxer himself had forbidden it, saying, "Everyone deserves another chance, Ar. Sure, she wasn't very pleasant, but it's not like she's actually EVIL. Maybe if she lives another few centuries she'll see enough of life to mellow."

The fact was that Accord had grown to be one of the few people who actually LIKED Gabrielle. Even Xena loved her more than liking her. And since Accord liked her he went with what he felt would be Joxer's wishes instead of Ares'. "Sur, Gabby, come along. After all, it's going to be family."

Gabrielle bit her lip, feeling tears pricking at the back of her eyes. Accord's simple acceptance touched her more than she wanted to admit. To justify his feelings for her she was willing to put up with Ares' sniping for an evening. "Thank, Accord. I'd be happy to. Do we need to bring anything?"

Accord stared at her, then they all laughed. "Good one, Gabs. Just bring yourself." He pointed at Xena. "I'm warning you right now, sister--it won't be long before you're gonna have to deal with me whenever you negotiate a peace between warlords. I'm pushing for an early investure."

"I'm looking forward to it, Cord," said Xena. As she spoke she reached over and plucked a small white feather out of Accord's hair, offering it to him. "Did you visit Cupid before you came here?"

Accord took the feather. "Um, yeah, but I think this is from Bliss, not Cupid. His are a little more slender than Cupid's." He tucked the feather in the weave of his braid.

"Why are you so anxious to take up your duties?" asked Gabrielle.

Accord looked a little puzzled. His fingers crept up unconsciously to stroke the small, soft whiteness. "I have my reasons." *I can't for the life of me think what they are, but I must have them.*

~*~

"You promise?" said Joxer.

"I promise," said Ares.

"You swear?"

"Hades' spades, Joxer!"

"Swear."

"Oh, for-- All right! I..."

"Hand on heart."

Ares heaved a martyred sigh, but placed his hand flat over his heart, rolled his eyes upward and said flatly, "I hereby swear that I will NOT change the food, place settings, tableware, room decorations, or furnishing in the dining room..." Joxer started to nod. "...more than twice."

"ARES!"

"All right, all right. Is the rest of my pregnancy going to be so restricted."

Joxer groaned. "It's already started."

"What has?"

"The pregnancy crazies." He kissed Ares. "I guess I avoided most of that because I had my garden to keep me occupied. I could channel all my 'gotta do SOMETHING' energy into that." He gestured widely, the sweep of his hand encompassing the entire dining room. "If you have to change something, get it over with. They'll start arriving soon."

Ares scowled. "I don't NEED to change anything. You think I can't resist the urge?"

"I never said that."

"Well, I can."

"Good."

"Great."

Accord came into the room. "I've decided that I'm just going to have to stick with either leaving my hair loose, or keeping it in a braid or tail. Putting it up any other way makes me look like a girl. Hey Dads." He came over and kissed each of them on the cheek. "New clothes for the announcement, Dad?"

Joxer looked at Ares sharply. The last time he'd looked at his husband, Ares had been wearing his usual dark clothes and leather. He still had the leather pants and vest, but now his black shirt had narrow red stripes. Joxer put his fists on his hips. "What?" said Ares. "I heard somewhere that stripes were slimming, and you didn't say anything about changing clothes."

Joxer looked at Accord. "Let this be a lesson to you, son--watch out for the fine print in whatever agreements you negotiate. You can go pick up Xena now."

"Will do. Oh, Dad?" His eyes had been skipping over the dinner table. "You have a thirteen places set. Better lay another plate." *FLASH*

Joxer frowned. "Another place? Let me see... Me, you, Accord, Hera..."

"Dite and Hephaestus," said Ares. "Deimos and Phobos."

"Strife, Cupid, Bliss, and Impetua..."

"Xena... Thirteen. Who--? Oh, I know. He must want to make it look like we didn't assume that Zeus wasn't going to attend."

"Maybe, but I thought we'd made it pretty clear to him, and it isn't like we need to go to a lot of trouble hiding our intentions from the guests we have invited."

"Well, who else COULD it be?" Joxer gave him a look. After a moment Ares' eyebrows lowered. "He wouldn't do that to me."

"He's the God of Mediation, Ar. Trying to get people to strike a level of tolerance is his job."

"I tolerate her--barely. I haven't blasted her yet, have I? I don't see why I have to put up with..."

"She's basically your daughter's wife--that's why. Don't be an ugly in-law."

"Emotional blackmail is not a pretty thing, Joxer." Joxer kissed him. "It's a good thing you are."

"Are what?"

Ares pinched his ass. "A pretty thing."

"I'm soooo insulted." *FLASH* Accord, his right arm wrapped around Xena and his left arm wrapped around Gabrielle, appeared. "Hi, girls!" He watched as Ares made a discreet gesture, and another place setting appeared on the table. His smile became even more genuine. "Glad you could make it."

Xena nodded her greetings, but Gabrielle said, "Hi!" She lifted a small bowl of ripe cherries. "I brought fruit." Ares and Joxer exchanged looks. "Yeah, right. I know that's sort of silly, since you guys can just think up whatever you want, but these looked really nice, and I thought... I AM a guest, so..."

"Thank you, Gabrielle." Everyone looked at Ares in surprise. His tone had been graciousl. He held out his hands. "Let me put tnose on the table. I'm going to put them close to my place, so I can be sure of getting some."

Xena blinked. "Who are you, and what have you done with my father?"

Gabrielle stared after him as he walked to the table, then leaned over and whispered to Accord, "Is he sick?"

Accord smiled. "Not exactly. Dad, should I go get the others?"

"No, they'll be here soon enough," said Ares. "We have guests now." *And if you're here I'm much less likely to be tempted to strangle her.*

Joxer got the two women seated and brought them goblets of wine, slapping Accord's hand when he started to reach for the bottle. "You're not grown yet, brat."

Completely unabashed, Accord shook his slapped hand. "Soon."

There were multiple flashes as Aphrodite and Hepaestus appeared together, then Cupid and Strife, and just after them Bliss and Impetua. Impetua bounced. "Hey, they're already serving hooch! Cool."

Strife locked an arm around her neck and rubbed his fist in her brown-green hair. "Go wild, baby girl. Have TWO kinds of fruit juice."

"Ya know, sometimes your no fun."

"I'M havin fun," said Strife cheerfully.

Accord and Bliss were just smiling at each other. Finally Bliss said, "Hi."

"Hey," Accord responded. They smiled at each other some more. Aphrodite giggled, and Cupid shook his head slightly, not quite smiling.

Ares, true to form, missed this. "Where are the twins?"

Impetua was studying the laden table. "I told 'em. They should be here any minute now. I think they were gonna attend the premier of Jayce's new play--just the start of it."

"Since when are the boys interested in drama?" asked Ares.

"Jayce has two or three actors makin' their maiden appearances, an' the play is by a first time playwrite. Believe me, there's gonna be plenty of panic an' fear to go around."

There was a double flash. Two near carbon copies of Strife appeared, locked in a tussel. The blond one seemed to be trying to pull the nose off the dark haired one. "Mine!"

The brunette gave the same treatment to his opponent's ears. "Mine, you glory hog!"

"I'm the one who made him wet his pants in front of half of Athens."

"You couldn't have panicked him if I hadn't set him up with a great, honking case of stage fright."

Strife giggled. "I THOUGHT I got a buzz a coupla minutes ago."

Ares roared, "TWINS!" The two young men froze They didn't let go of their handholds, but if Ares was addressing them collectively rather than by name, and in that tone of voice, it was a good idea to pay attention. "I knew it was a mistake to give you two godhoods that were so similar, but no--Zeus thought it would be cute. Let go of each other."

"Fine!" It was a duet, and it was more of a mutual shove than a turning loose. They went over and simultaneously kissed Aphrodite on both cheeks. Again together they said, "Hi, Mom."

"Can we have a little less of the Greek chorus act?" said Ares. Deimos and Phobos exchanged looks. "Oh, come on. I know you do it on purpose. You play it for all it's worth, and it's very effective when you deal with mortals, but this is a family evening, so can it."

"Sure." "Sorry, Dad."

The answers weren't the same, and not QUITE simultaneous, so Ares was mollified. Deimos and Phobos, though, looked as if they were about to vibrate. "Oh, all right. One more."

Deimos kicked Phobos in the shin, and Phobos punched his brother in the arm--hard. After that they looked about as peaceful as it was possible for Panic and Fear to get. "When do we eat?" asked Phobos.

"We're..."

Deimos pointed at Gabrielle. "What's SHE doing here?"

"Having dinner, and not being harrassed," said Joxer shortly. "And I wouldn't take that tone with her if I were you." Actually Joxer had meant the narrow look Xena was giving his nephew-in-law, but he continued, "After all--you're just as blond as she is."

Ares said, "As I was saying, we're waiting..."

Deimos had been creeping around behind Accord. Now he whipped around in front of him, springing up and shouting, "BOOGAH BOOGAH!" Accord raised an eyebrow at him. "Nothin?" Accord shook his head. "Dammit!" Deimos threw himself in a chair to sulk. "I managed that ONE time when you were three--then nothing."

"And do you recall what we did after we found out that YOU were the one who frightened Cord into a screaming fit of hysterics?" There was a grim tone in Joxer's voice, and Deimos squirmed, giving everyone a cringing, apologetic grin. Everyone would have expected Ares to react to such a thing, but Joxer... He might be the God of Peace, but it was very unwise to screw around with his son.

"Right, right," said Deimos. "No work--family night. Why are we all sitting around and not chowing down?"

"WE'RE WAITING..." Ares stopped. Everyone looked at him questioningly. "I just figured someone was going to interrupt me again. As I was saying, we're waiting for..."

"Tha Robert E. Lee?" said Strife. Cupid swatted him. "I HAD TO!"

"We'rewaitingforZeusandHera," Ares said in a rush. He heaved a sigh.

*Flash*

"Well, then there's no point in waiting any longer." Hera stood in their midst, looking as cool and serene as usual. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren went over one by one and kissed her proferred cheek. "No point in waiting for Zeus. He has urgent business elsewhere. I think she's a redhead." Her eyes flashed. "I could just murder..." She noticed the wide-eyed look that Impetua and Accord were giving her. "...a nice, rare steak. Shall we eat?"




Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 6/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: Ares and Joxer make the announcement to the family. And... :) I'm not tellin'.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: Alright, I'm going to have to go back and add a line or two to the previous chapter to explain why Eris isn't present. She's already heard the news, so she's off taking care of business so that Joxer and Ares don't have to worry about being interrupted.
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 6/?
by Scribe

Chapter Six

The dinner had gone fairly quietly, as these sort of gatherings went. Any time you got Strife, Deimos, and Phobos together in one place there was bound to be... Well, the kindly inclined called them 'hijinx'. Since there weren't many on Olympus who were THAT kindly inclined their antics were usually refered to as 'nonsense' by the delicate and 'shit' by the blunt. This time the twins had behaved well. There had been no blowing of bubbles in the wine, nor snorting of milk through the nose. There hadn't even been a 'do you like seafood? See--food!' incident. It was probably because they were in the presence of not only Hera, but also Ares and Aphrodite. Ares suspected that Joxer was working a subtle bit of calming as well, and he was grateful. Still, there had to be SOME incidents.

Half way through dinner Hera said sharply, "Deimos, stop throwing grapes at Phobos."

Deimos gave Hera a wide-eyed look, and displayed his hands as Accord said, "I didn't see him throw anything."

"He was doing it under the table."

Phobos frowned, rubbing his knee. "So THAT'S what it was. I thought maybe Joxer's cat was roamin' under the table, lookin' for a snack. I've been tryin' to feed grapes to nothin'?" He grabbed up his roll and cocked his arm back.

Ares snapped, "DROP IT!" Phobos dropped it, but he silently mouthed 'later!' at his brother.

It was just as well that he did, Because Deimos had loaded a spoon with a tangled, dark green, dripping mess, and was preparing to use it as a catapult. When his brother lowered the roll he started to innocently eat the bite, then stopped, actually LOOKING at it. "What the Tartarus IS this crap?"

"Lemme see." Strife dipped up some from the same bowl and held it under his nose, sniffing like a wine afficianado checking out the bouquet of a rare vintage. "Greens, natch, but tha question is turnip, collards, or spinach?" He sniffed again. "Spinach." He started to drop the food back into the bowl.

"Wait a minute," said Ares. "Aren't you going to eat that, after having it up close and personal with your nose?"

"Are you kiddin?" Strife dropped the dark green was on his plate. "Had enougha that crap while I was carryin Imp, thank ya. An' don't tell me yer gettin healthy in yer old age, Unc? I thought yer idea of veggies was like mine--taters an' corn."

Ares paused, then jerked his head at Accord. "What--you think I want my son to get soft bones, or something?"

Accord looked up in surprise. "You haven't forced me to eat vegetables since I was nine." He looked at Bliss. "I warned him that if I had to eat mushy peas I'd throw up. He didn't believe me. I threw up. On him."

Strife cackled. "I love that kid."

"I didn't do it on purpose."

"Suuuure."

There was another quiet stretch of eating and conversation. As hosts, Ares and Joxer occupied the head and the foot of the table. Hera, as most honored female guest, sat on Ares' right hand, and the rest... It was pretty much catch-as-catch-can. Aphrodite and Hephaestus, ignorant (but probably not giving a damn about) the social rules of seating that would come in the future, sat together, as did Cupid and Strife. If Ares had thought that having Deimos and Phobos sit across from each other and at opposite ends of the table would curb their antics, he'd only been partiall right. At least there was no pinching and hair pulling. In fact, Phobos was sitting next to Impetua, and he was quite behaving himself with her--he knew for a fact that she could be just as sneaky and vindictive as he'd ever thought about being. Plus she had wings, so if he gave her a hard time he would have to look everywhere, including straight up, to avoid retaliation. A bucket full of the floor contents of Apollo's stable could do wonders in adjusting an attitude. Bliss and Accord sat together, also, occasionally sharing eye-rolls at something that the 'grown ups' or 'kids' said or did.

Finally they'd reached the end of the meal. Joxer had cleared the table with a thought (making sure to leave behind Gabby's bowl of fruit. She was at least trying), then set it again with plates of more delicate fruits, cakes, and cookies. Aphrodite conjured up a few plates of that wonderful substance she'd introduced Strife to when he was pregnant with Impetua--chocolate. She was still hoarding the recipe, claiming that it was too powerful to be made available to just anyone.

Ares brought to the table several bottles of the wine he'd decanted from the keg he'd gotten the day before. They'd been chilling in buckets of snow. Joxer took a bottle, too, and they went around the table from opposite ends, filling glasses. When Strife immediately started to take a sip, Cupid caught his wrist, shaking his head. "Wait. You know that they don't usually have this many of us over at once unless it's some sort of official meeting? I think we're about to find out what this is all about."

Instead of returning to his seat, Joxer went to the head of the table as Ares resumed his seat. He poured his husband a goblet of wine, then as the rest of the party watched in bemusement, he diuluted it with at least half water. Ares scowled at the goblet, then gave Joxer and inquiring look and held up his thumb and forefinger a little apart, as if measuring something. Joxer shook his head. Ares sighed and shrugged as Joxer transported his chair from the end of the table to beside Ares, then took a seat.

"I suppose you're wondering why we called you all here..." began Ares.

"Ta reveal tha murder?" said Strife. When everyone stared at him he explained, "It's a cliche media thing. Gonna be real popular with those Britannics. G'wan, Unc."

While Strife was speaking, Ares had been eying the dish of chocolate in front of Aphrodite. Now he reached out and took a piece, examined it suspiciously, and sniffed it. "This looks like some sort of cheap paving stone, but it smells good." He took a tiny nibble. His eyes didn't exactly roll back in his head, but the next bite he snapped out of the candy would have done justice to a 20th century woman with a stressful job, a jerk boyfriend, and PMS.

Aphrodite was watching him, open mouthed. Ares ate fruit, of course, but he'd never been all that interested in other kinds of sweets. Now here he was scarfing the sweetest, most indulgent sweet around. In fact, he had a piece in both hands, and a couple piled in front of him. "Ar, if you want it that bad, I'll send some over later."

"Thanks, Dite. Could you make it a couple of pounds? I'm sure Joxer and Accord will want a couple of pieces."

Strife's eyes were suddenly the size of saucers, and his hair seemed to stand on end even more than usual. He sat bolt upright, pointed at Ares, and said, "YER KNOCKED UP!"

Total, dead silence--except for Accord and Bliss snickering.

Cupid said, "Strife, why on Earth would you think--?"

Strife started ticking off on his fingers. "He's wearin new clothes, he's been sittin down every second he could, he's been civil ta Gabby..." He hesitated. "Okay, on that one it could mean that tha end of the world is approachin. Joxer watahed his wine an he didn't bitch about it, he's servin SPINACH, he ate TWO helpins of spinach, I saw 'im addin garlic-hot sauce ta his new green peas, an' he's gobblin chocolate like there's no tamarrah. Oh, boy--do I recognize most of those." He leaned his elbows on the table, propping his chin in his hands, and said, "How long?"

There was a long silence. Finally Ares said, "And I was wondering how I was going to phrase it. We think about three months." It was quiet for another moment. "Well, someone say something."

Deimos, who was the twin sitting closest to them, gave Joxer a stern look and said, "You got my father pregnant?"

Joxer held up his hand and wiggled his fingers, making the light glint on his ring. "Married here?"

Deimos' expression cleared. "Oh, yeah." Then he grinned. "I'm gonna be an uncle!"

Ares slapped his forehead, but Joxer just said, "Brother."

Deimos blinked, thought for a moment, then said, "Oh, yeah. Hey, a sibling..." His eyes sparkled. "To mold."

Phobos perked up. "Oo!" He saw the look his father was giving him and said quickly, "And educate, and protect!"

Deimos caught on and nodded quickly. "Heck, yeah! We can teach 'im how to scare off anyone who tries to mess with 'im. How to have 'em running like a bunch of screaming girls."

"And suppose HE is a girl?" said Ares dryly.

The twins both started to say something, then stopped and looked at each other. After a second they both shrugged. "Even better," said Deimos. "Fear and panic can come in really handy for a girl. Save you some trouble with her boyfriends, huh?"

Joxer didn't like the contemplative look on Ares face as he drawled, "Yesssss. Maybe when she starts to approach puberty we can have you boys..." Joxer pinched his shoulder. Ares cleared his throat. "You're good brothers." He glanced around the table. "Well? Gasps? Comments?" He looked pointedly at Strife. "Jokes?"

Strife grinned. "I can wait. I got six months of material ahead."

Ares looked at Cupid. "Hey, Dad, we're immortal and fertile practically forever--it's not like the prospect of another brother or sister hasn't occured to me. I think it's great." He smiled. "Hope he has wings."

"Thank you." Ares glanced at Joxer. "You remember how much trouble we had with cleaning Cord's bellybutton and cutting his toenails?" Joxer winced. "Imagine how it's going to be when we have to have his feathers clipped to keep him from taking off before he's ready."

"We already know how Daddy Strife feels about it, and I talked to Accord earlier," said Bliss.

"Hey!" said Impetua.

Bliss stuck his tongue out at her, and she promptly returned the gesture. "Anyway, I just want to weigh in with a 'yay!'"

"Me, too," said Impetua. "Hey, Granddad, try to have a girl, huh? I'm outnumbered around here." Aphrodite giggled. "I know how Grandma votes on that front."

Aphrodite waved her hands. "I promise I promise I PROMISE that I won't try to put the baby, boy or girl, in pink till they're at LEAST..." She paused. Ares cocked an eyebrow. "Three months. Oh, COME ON! I HAVE to. It's going to be hard enough for me to wait that long."

"Please don't ask her to wait any longer than that," said Hephaestus. "I'll end up wearing pink at some point if she has to restrain herself any longer. Congratulations, guys."

Ares silently turned his eyes toward Xena. She was staring at him almost blankly. Finally she gave him a small smile. "Well, after watching what Joxer went through, you know what you were getting into. Now you're going to get to see it from the other side. One piece of advice? Watch the salt. It'll help keep your ankles to below elephant size. Gabby? Either shut your mouth, or say something."

Gabby did both. She shut her mouth, swallowed, then said softly, "You're so lucky."

Strife reached over and laid a hand across Gabrielle's forehead. "Zeen, what are ya doin bringin her out when she's this sick?"

Gabrielle slapped his hand down, but there wasn't any real heat in the gesture. "I mean it. To be able to bring a child into the world, nurture it, watch it grow..." She trailed off, and Ares knew that she was remembering Hope, her own lost daughter. His usual animosity for the bard faded as he compared Gabrielle's luck with children with his own. There was just something about contemplating someone else's tragedy that made your own problems seem small.

"Children," said Hera, "can be both a great trial, and a great joy. Ares--you, Joxer and I are going to be working closely with Apollo and Ace to be sure that this pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. While we can't be prepared for EVERY eventuality, as evidenced by Accord's abrupt entrance into the world, we can certainly TRY." She smiled at Ares. "I'll admit, son, that I never expected this from you."

"I know, I know. Too 'girlie'." Ares sounded resigned.

"Not at all," said Hera gently. "Oh, I suppose there are some fools, people who don't know you, who might think that. We can probably count your father among them." She shrugged. "Fools are with us always--there's nothing we can do about it. It would depopulate the world if we tried to get rid of them all. I just wish I could get Gaia to authorize alternating who carries the baby among the mortals. It would promote understanding among the sexes, and that could only help marriages. It would also keep population growth in line, because I'm pretty sure that after the wife, then the husband, then the wife had a child, the husband would suddenly decide that three children were sufficient. I know why you're doing this." She smiled at Joxer. "And there's nothing more manly than putting yourself through discomfort and risk for the one you love. There aren't enough people willing to do that. Will you two STOP that?"

The last was directed at Deimos and Phobos, who'd been muttering at each other. "Boy." "Girl." "Boy." "Girl." "Boy!" "Girl!" When Hera spoke they stopped quarreling, eyeing each other, then Deimos said, "Both?

Phobos nodded. "That'd work?" They looked expectantly at their father.

Ares sat back a little. "Now, wait a minute! The only way that could happen would be ie either I had a kid like Hermaphroditus (whom I love, but damn--sex is hard enough for UNCOMPLICATED kids to figure out), or one of each. I am NOT going to have twins."

"Hate ta tell ya this, Unc," said Strife. "But ya really don't have much of a choice in these sort thangs."

"We've spoken to Apollo and Ace, and they said there was just one," said Ares firmly.

"Well..."

Ares stared at Joxer. "What do you MEAN, 'well'?"

"They only used singular pronouns, but they didn't say specifically that it was one baby."

"They didn't say specifically that it was an actual baby and not a kitten, either."

"There's no chance that it could be a kitten..." Joxer paused as Mjau jumped up on the table and began to stalk a chicken wing. Accord quickly grabbed the little cat, handed it a small chunk of lamb instead, and shooed it out the door. Joxer looked at Ares.

"TELL me you aren't thinking that," said Ares.

"Of course not. No, you wouldn't get... But Ar, there IS a history of twins in your family." He nodded toward Deimos and Phobos. "And then there's the matter of Apollo and Artemis, and yourself and Eris..."

"Stop it, you're scaring me. Your the father, though, so that shouldn't..." He trailed off, eyes widening as he remembered Jayce and Jett. "Oh, crap," he said softly, looking down at his own belly in speculation. "But really, Ace and Apollo would have known, wouldn't they?

"They SHOULD have," said Hera, but at this early stage things are still a little nebulous. They should be able to tell for sure in a week or two."

Ares sat back, groaning. "I have to hang in suspence that long?"

"Try to view it in a good light, dear. Start planning what you'll do if it IS a multiple."

"You mean BESIDES going crazy?"

"Well, maybe I can relieve a little of your stress, dear."

"I'd appreciate it. How?"

Her smile was acid-sweet. "Let ME be the one to tell your father about the upcoming happy event."



Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 7/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: Zeus gets the news.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: 'Pregnant' in Dutch, French, German, Porteugese, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. Hey, Hera would know 'pregnant' in any language.
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 7/?
by Scribe

Chapter Seven

In the Dark

*silence*

"Twins?"

*sigh*

*pause*

"Twins.*

*pause*

"Twins?*

*SIGH*

*pause*

"Triplets?"

"OH, FOR ELYSIA'S SAKE, ARES!" Joxer sat up and thought the bedside lamp into illumination. He glared at his husband. "Look, I'm a patient person, but this has been going on since last night."

Ares didn't shift off his pillow, but gazed up at Joxer. "I can't help it."

Joxer drooped a little. "All right. I don't expect you to suffer in silence."

"I'm not really suffering, Jox. I'm just..." He trailed off.

"Worried."

"Well, yes--but not exactly. It's just that the suspence is killing me."

"Try to relax. There's no point in asking Apollo or Ace for another scan so soon--you'll just be more frustrated if they can't tell for sure. We ought to wait at least a week."

"If you REALLY want me to be a fit companion for Mania by then, fine."

"All right, we'll go tomorrow." He thought a moment. "We'll go TODAY, but LATER today. Now, will you please go to sleep?" He reached over and tweaked Ares' beard. "You'd better enjoy it while you can. You're eventually going to get to the point where finding a comfortable position will be like waiting for an humble moment from Apollo."

Ares winced. "That bad?"

"Maybe not, but then there's the kicking from the inside bit."

"Thank you."

"I just want to be sure that you know what to expect." He reached over and caressed Ares' bare, slightly mounded belly. "Apollo and Ace talked themselves blue in the face, and it helped, and I appreciated it. But it would have been such a comfort to have someone to talk to who'd been through the same thing."

Ares' caught his hand and brought it to his lips. "You're right. I know that when Strife was carrying Impetua he'd arrive here wild-eyed and practically frothing, then he'd talk to you, and he'd leave about as calm as it's possible for him to get. You were good to him, Joxer."

"He's my friend," said Joxer simply. "Everyone needs a good friend when they're pregnant. You're going to need one."

"I have you."

"I'm your husband, and the father of your baby. Of course I'm going to be here for you, but it's not the same. Occasionally the bitching you're going to want to do is going to be about me." He blew out the lamp and settled back next to Ares. "Now, please try to sleep. You're going to need all your strength..." He was silent for a moment, and Ares was relaxing toward slumber. "...if it's twins."

Are whapped him across the face with his pillow.

~*~

"Of course I'll check you again," Ace said to Ares. "But I checked you less than a week ago. Do you feel anything odd?"

"I'm pregnant, Ace--of course I'm feeling odd," said Ares. "I'm pretty sure I'm feeling normal for my condition. That isn't it. I want you to check again and see if I might possibly be carrying twins."

"What on Earth made you think about that?"

Joxer started to tick off on his fingers. "Him and Eris, Deimos and Phobos, your dad and Artemis, me, and my brothers. Besides that, has Strife ever told you about that guy Murphy who's going to be passing laws in the future?"

Ares reached over and squeezed his hand. "No, that's not appropriate, because this wouldn't be anything WRONG--just... just sort of jaw-dropping."

"I hadn't really thought about that," said Ace. "I mean, sure--this family DOES have a fairly high proportion of twins, but they're still relatively rare. But when you factor in Joxer and his brothers..." He shook his head. "It didn't even occur to me to look, so there's just a chance that I might have missed something that I wasn't specifically looking for--given the early stage. Hold still."

Ace held out his hands toward Ares. A glow built up on his palms, then flowed out to shimmer above Ares' abdomen. Ace frowned, concentrating, making small movements. At last the glow faded, he pulled his hands back, and tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Hm."

"Ace, 'hm' is NOT an answer. Is it, or isn't it? Or rather are they, or...? You know what I mean. What's the answer?"

"The answer is, I'm not sure." Ares and Joxer both stared at him. "Yes, I know that isn't an acceptable answer, but that's all I have. You wouldn't want me to give you a definite answer if I wasn't sure, would you?"

"Yes. I can be pissed off at you later, but it would relieve some of the stress now."

"Well, I'm not going to do that. The best I can do is... probably."

Ares closed his eyes briefly. "Not maybe?"

"No."

"Well." Joxer put an arm around Ares' shoulders. "You're not going to say 'I'm sorry', are you?"

"No, because I'm not."

"Good. You do realize that if I'm carrying more than one the crap I'm going to give everyone around me is going to multiply exponentially?"

"I understand that when Mom was pregnant with us, she ran Dad out of the house once with a poker. She was threatening to jam it where the sun doesn't shine so he'd have some idea of what she was going to go through giving birth. That was before she knew she was having the three of us."

"I may have to start liking the woman. Ace, when will you be able to tell absolutely?"

Ace rolled his eyes upward, considering. "Maybe in two days, but three would be more likely, and the longer, the better the chance I'll be accurate. Have you started taking that extra ambrosia I recommended?"

"Um... some."

"Translation: no. It starts now." He pointed at Ares. "You will notify me IMMEDIATELY if you feel anything out of the ordinary."

"You're going to get awful tired if I keep waking you up for morning sickness."

"I said anything out of the ordinary. You're pregnant--nausea is normal. But PROLONGED nausea, or any pain or blood I want you to call me the split second after... No, the split second BEFORE it happens. Now, go home and start planning how you're going to delegate duties, because even if it's a single child I'm going to want you to start easing off fairly early in the pregnancy. Now, excuse me--I'm going to go review my scrolls on Joxer's and Strife's pregnancies." He bustled out.

"You're really all right with this?" Joxer asked quietly.

Ares snorted. "I'd better be, hadn't I?" Before Joxer had a chance to look hurt, Ares said, "I am. Stop agonizing on my behalf, Joxer. I'll let you know when you need to castigate yourself. I'm sure there'll come a time when I want you to beg my forgiveness."

"Probably about half-way through the labor."

"Are we going to tell anyone about the possibility?"

"We might as well tell Strife--he'll probably figure it out on his own, anyway." Ares sighed. "Dinner last night represented a general announcement, since we didn't ask anyone to keep quiet. I guess if everyone is going to know that I'm pregnant, they might as well know this, too." He was quiet for a moment, then smiled.

"What?"

"Nothing much. I was just wishing that I'd asked Hera to take a scrying mirror when she told Zeus."

~*~

Zeus was in a good mood. He was feeling young, suave, and virile. A new affair always had that effect on him. He was also feeling rather smug, congratulating himself on cleverly using that dinner given by Ares and Joxer to steal a little time with his newest paramour, WITHOUT his wife suspecting. He smiled, thinking of the woman. She was a fiery redhead, the wife of a diplomat from the wild reaches of Brittanica. She thought that he was a wealthy land owner, a noble with an ancient lineage. He'd have been surprised to realize that she was making up to him because she thought that he could help her husband in court. Her own tastes ran more to guardsmen.

Zeus was in his study, feet up on his desk and hands clasped behind his head, gloating... *No, musing. I'm musing on the perfection of this new liason. Ah, romance. She's so sweet and adoring. Well, why shouldn't she be? After all, I AM the ultimate. Maybe I'll let her have a child, another little demi-god. After all, Hercules isn't small and cuddly anymore. Not that I ever cuddled him, but I thought about it. And if it's a little girl, I WOULD cuddle it. She'd be honored to have a child by me. After all, I've proved my capabilities as a sire. Just look at the children I've produced--beautiful women, strong, virile men...*

The door to his study opened, and Hera walked in. "What a picture of contentment."

Zeus, startled, reacted too quickly, thumping his feet down off the desk and jerking upright in his chair. He quickly grabbed a scroll from the desk before him and looked at it intently. "I was resting my eyes. I'm very busy, my dear, so if you'll tell me quickly what you want..."

"Do I have to want something?" She drifted over and settled gracefully into a chair before his desk. "And you ARE aware that you're holding that scroll upside-down?"

Zeus blinked at the parchment. "That's because... It's in code. It's only legible if held upside down."

"Really? That's fascinating." She held out her hand. "May I see?"

He rolled it up quickly, thrusting it in a drawer. "I'm sorry--it's top secret. Again, what are you--?"

"You couldn't attend the dinner last night, so I thought that you'd appreciate being brought up to speed on the family news."

*Boredom.* "That would be very nice. I am, of course, always interested in what's going on with the children. Why don't we have lunch together, oh, in a day or so? Then you can fill me in on all the little incidents that they..."

"Ares is pregnant." She waited.

Zeus got very, very still, his insincere smile frozen in place. After a moment he gave a stilted laugh. "And people think that you don't have a sense of humor." Hera smiled. "That's a good one. Ares pregnant. Heh." He perked up. "Is this your way of telling me that Joxer is expecting again? That's marvelous! I love Accord, and another child from the same..."

"No, this is my way of telling you that Ares---is---pregnant." She spoke slowly and deliberately. Then she sat back and watched him expectantly.

She wasn't disappointed. Zeus stood up abruptly, hands slapping the desktop, and thundered (literally), "He's WHAT?"

Over in the Temple of Love, Strife and Cupid looked up as thunder boomed overhead. Bliss was at the window, and he said, puzzled, "But it's clear outside."

Strife and Cupid exchanged looks. Strife concentrated briefly, then grinned. Cupid called, "Hera just told Zeus."

"Oh."

Back in Zeus' study Hera wasn't even bothering to hide her smile. "I've told you twice. Do you need for me to put it in another language for you to understand? He's zwanger, enceinte, schwanger, incinto, gravido, cynopoco, embarazado..."

"I GET THE PICTURE!" He stared at her. "If it was anyone else but you I'd still believe it was a joke, but I know that you don't joke about pregnancies." He sat back down and put his head in his hands. "I don't believe it." Hera started to say something. "I was speaking metaphorically." He groaned, rubbing his face. "He didn't look it the last time I saw him."

"Maybe if you actually LOOKED at him from one month to the next you'd have noticed something. You'd better go visit the Fates soon to start determining the godhood. It's no good waiting till the last minute."

"Yes." He stood up, his expression darkening, "And I'm going to want to hear their excuses as to why I didn't hear this from them instead of from you." *FLASH*

Hera sat back, sighing happily, and murmured, "I wonder if I should have one of my priestesses make a formal announcement to the royal court? I could have her go on and on about how pleased Zeus is that his son is going to be giving him another grandchild..."

~*~

A Little Later

*Flash*

Zeus appeared in the Halls of War. One of the priests hurried over, bowing and scraping. Zeus said regally, "Summon my son." The priest hesitated. "Well?" The man bowed again and hurried off.

While he was gone, Zeus debated whether he should be standing or sitting when Ares arrived. He decided on standing. He felt the need to look as impressive as possible. A minute later Joxer came into the room. Zeus managed not to frown, but his tone was a little stiff. He'd gradually been coming to like Joxer, but now the man was responsible for getting his son and heir pregnant. It was all well and good for Ares to have gotten another man pregnant. After all, how virile did you have to be to accomplish that? But to actually get pregnant himself... If he was going to bottom, why didn't he have enough sense to take precautions? "Joxer. I asked to see Ares."

"I know." Joxer approached. "He's resting. I told the priests to notify me if you came over." He folded his arms. "We're going to have a talk before you see him."

"Joxer, what I want to talk to him about has nothing..."

"I know why you're here, and nothing to do with me? I'm the father, remember? Judging by your attitude you're not exactly bubbling over with joy about this situation. Well, I am, and Ares is pretty happy, too. But he's feeling a little insecure..."

"War--insecure?"

"Will you be quiet and let me say what I have to say?"

Zeus blinked at him. Joxer had never been the most forceful person in the world, and he'd always been defferential to the gods. *He's changed since he's become a god.* Zeus was too shallow to realize that the divinity was only a small part of the reason for the change. No, Joxer was a spouse and husband now. He had a focus for all the love and caring that he'd carried inside, untapped, for so long. Men who are inspired by love and family are capable of many, many things. Joxer had grown force in his usuall easy-going nature--at least where it involved the well being of those he loved. "I'm listening."

"I hope so, because this is important. Yes, he's feeling insecure. That's only natural. I'm pretty sure he felt the same way when Aphrodite got pregnant with Cupid, and I was carrying Accord. But now HE'S the one who's solely responsible for the well being of the baby, and that would be daunting to anyone who wasn't a self-involved jackass, or a total moron. He's neither of those, so he's worried. That means he's already under stress, and he doesn't need any more. That includes any grief you might give him if you get the stupid notion that this might somehow reflect on your own manliness." Zeus' eyes shifted. "A-ha! I knew it. Well, it doesn't have any more significance than my being what I was reflected on my father--Jett is his son, and Dad is still a hard-core bastard. Before you speak to Ares I just wanted you to know--if you cause him any distress..." he leaned toward Zeus, baring his teeth. Even if they hadn't been triplets, he'd have looked a lot like Jett right then. "I will see to it that you never have another moment's peace in your long, long life. I'll get Strife and Discord to help me. You'll end up looking forward to the Twilight. Do I make myself clear?"

Zeus studied him. *He's not bluffing.* "Joxer, I'm hurt. I'm just here to offer my congratulations, and..." he cleared his throat, "support."

Joxer watched him suspiciously. "All right. I'll go get him." He left the room.

A minute later Accord hurried in, grinning. "Hey, Grandpa! Did Hera tell you the good news?"

"About your father..."

"Isn't it neat?" Accord burbled. Funny how he could burble without seeming girlie. "I'm going to have a little brother or sister--someone I can teach, and blame things on."

Zeus smiled almost reluctantly. "How much time have you been spending with Strife?"

"I hang around with Bliss, so I see a lot of him. What godhood are you going to give the baby?"

"I'm only partially responsible for that. I have the final say, but I have to consult with the Fates. So far I've followed their recommendations. I'm a little apprehensive about what might happen if I totally ignored them. For instance when Impetua was born I was considering making her the Goddess of Courtly Love--you know, the kind that is never consummated? It was pointed out to me rather forcefully that it would be contrary to nature to give that to someone with Aphrodite, Cupid, and Strife in their bloodlines."

Accord wrinkled his nose. "True."

Ares and Joxer came into the room, and Accord bounced over to them, giving them both hugs. "I gotta go. I want to do a little high walking..."

"Accord," growled Ares.

"It's all right. Bliss and Imp are gonna spot for me. Bliss is strong enough to ferry me halfway around the world, and you know Imp--she amuses herself by snatching dragonflys out of the air." He kissed Ares on the cheek. "Worrywart."

The three men were silent for a moment after Accord left. Finally Zeus said, "I hear that congratulations are in order."

Joxer watched him narrowly as Ares said. "We think so."

"When is the happy event?"

"In about six months, give or take."

"Well, that will bring it close to your own natal day. Let's hope that the little one doesn't decide to show up then. Children can be touchy about having to share their special days. I remember what a fus Apollo and Artemis used to kick up, till we finally decided to celebrate them in successive weeks."

Ares was beginning to relax. "I remember. Then they argued about who was going to have the first celebration." Ares paused, then said, "I might end up having the same problem."

Joxer had to give Zeus credit. The news was probably making him pitch a mental fit, but all he said was, "Well, I'm sure that you'll make such a fuss that if there ARE two, they won't be able to feel slighted. I just wanted to drop by and give you my good wishes. I'm off to talk to the Fates now. Do you have any suggestions for possible godhoods?"

Ares stared at him. Zeus, offering to allow someone else a say? Maybe he was ill. "I can't think of anything right off hand."

"There's time. I'll speak to you later, my boy." He nodded at Joxer, and Ares was a little surprised by the respectful light in his eyes. "Joxer." *Flash*

Ares sat down. "I'm glad he didn't give me a hard time, but what do you suppose got hold of him?"

"Maybe it was just the fact that something DIDN'T get hold of him," murmured Joxer.





Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 8/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:Ares/Joxer est.
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: A revelation about the pregnancy.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or

owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect

on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for

giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: Ares is about three months along now, and the events of Childhood Sweethearts will start in about a month.
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 8/?
by Scribe

Three Days Later

Accord approached Joxer. "Dad, please tell me that you're taking him to see Ace today, and finding out for sure about the baby--or babies, as the

case may be?"

"He's visiting the chamber pot--we're going when he's ready," said Joxer.

"Good."

"I think the stress of not knowing is intensifying his morning sickness. Of course if he finds out there's more than one, the stress is going up

anyway."

"Yeah, but you know what I think? I think that if he finds out there's just one baby after all, he's still going to stress, because he's going to be

disappointed. He's been grumbling, but I think he's getting to like the idea. I just want him to KNOW. Just being in the same house with him has been

making me nervous. I can feel it all over, like an itch. Can I come along?"

"We'll ask him."

"Ask him what?" Ares re-entered the room. "I'm going to have to start carrying a wide necked bottle around with me, and map out tapestries suitable

to hide behind."

"Talk to Scribe about that," said Joxer. "She told me once that every alternate universe has a number of those specifically for the use of Mary Sues."

"Who's Mary Sue?"

"Ask her. She tried to explain, but it made my head hurt, so I asked her to stop. Our son wants to accompany us to Apollo's place to learn about the

baby."

"More moral support can only be a good thing," said Ares. "Since we're not ready to announce it to the mortals, I've made arrangements to appear

directly in an examining room. It's the third along the front hallway, right side. Everyone ready? Let's go."

All three flashed out. Joxer and Ares appeared immediately in the specified examining room. Joxer looked around. "Where's Cord?"

There was a startled yell from somewhere outside the room, followed by a loud babbling of, "Sorrysorrysorry!" A second later the door opened and a

blushing Accord came in.

"What did you do?"

"I guess I was thinking of the other right side. Ace was finishing up a physical for one of the Temple priests. At least I THINK it was an exam. I can't

think of any other reason he'd have his finger THERE except to examine... When he gave me the 'facts of life' speech you asked him to..." Joxer

glared at Ares, who suddenly became very interested in his fingernails, "he was telling me about keeping yourself happy till you were ready to be with

someone else, and he told me about this special spot called a 'prostate'..."

"I'm familiar with the concept," said Joxer.

"Anyway, I figured he must've reached that stage of the exam..." he paused. "Though why Ace had most of his OWN clothes off I don't..." He

suddenly blushed even deeper. "Um... Anyway, they were both kind of surprised, and considering where Ace had his finger..."

"We get the picture."

"How bad could it have been? I know that Ace keeps his nails short and smooth because..."

"We GOT it, Accord."

Apollo came in. "What the Tartarus was that rumpus?"

"Sort of a," Ares spread his hands, as if sketching a starburst, "SURPRISE!"

Apollo nodded. "I've told him time and again--put up a shield and lock the door." He gestured at the high, padded examination table. "Climb up and

get comfortable, and we'll see how many diapers you're going to end up changing."

Ares went to get on the table. He felt a warm glow when Joxer immediately moved up beside him, putting an arm around him to help him get up

safely. He swung his legs up and around, then laid back, resting his head on the small pillow provided. He started to fold his hands on his belly, but

Apollo, tone brisk, said, "Hands to the side. I could work around them, but why should I? Besides, you want as narrow a margin for error as possible,

don't you? Now, you two, stay quiet, so I can concentrate."

He closed his eyes and held his hands out over Ares' body, palms down. He moved his hands carefully over Ares' abdomen, staying a few inches

above him. Then he frowned and lowered his hand till they almost, but not quite, skimmed Ares' shirt. Finally he actually pressed his hands to Ares'

belly and held them there, face tight in concentration. "What's wrong?" asked Accord.

"Did I, or did I not, say QUIET?" Accord took a half-step behind Joxer, who patted his arm. Apollo continued, feeling along both sides of Ares'

abdomen. "I'm not sure... It's pretty much the same. but it's much stronger than I would have expected it to be. Just a little more..." Finally his brow

smoothed out, and he lifted his hands. He smiled down at Ares. "You don't care for pierced ears on infants, do you?"

"I consider it akin to torture," growled Ares. "So can I assume that this is your way of telling me it's a girl?"

"You can assume this is my way of telling you that it's TWO girls, and the most identical twins I've ever come across." *thud* Apollo looked around.

"Accord, help your father up. Joxer, you're getting better. I would have expected you to faint instead of just sitting down suddenly. The reason I

asked about the earings is that would be one way to tell them apart. You're going to need it, and don't give me that 'a parent knows' nonsense.

That is undoubtedly true after a few months, or even a few weeks--at least until the children figure out that they can fool people if they try--but

newborns? Uh-uh."

"We'll think of something else," said Ares, voice very quiet. He was staring up at the ceiling, a slack expression on his face. Or perhaps 'no

expression' would be more accurate.

Joxer, who had gotten to his feet with the assistance of a grinning Accord, went over to him, leaning down anxiously. "Ar? Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." His voice was distant.

"I mean, are you all right with this?"

Ares stared at him a long moment, then a slow smile spread over his face. "What do YOU think?"

Joxer sighed. It wasn't quite relief. Deep down he'd known that Ares would not only accept, but be happy with whatever it was--but he'd be REALLY

happy with twins. Joxer stroked his forehead and said tenderly, "Is it too early to start interviewing nursemaids? Because we're going to have at

least one. I vividly remember what it was like with Accord," he looked at his son, "whom I love to distraction," Accord nodded, "but we are NOT going

through that doubled without help."

Ares rubbed his belly. "Well, we have about six months. Surely we'll find one by then. A Nanny is one thing, but somehow I don't think we'll have any

trouble finding baby sitters..." he smiled, "at least once for each relative."

Joxer returned the smile. "Yeah, it's kind of like getting kids to help with chores. They're all enthusiastic to help, till they figure out that it's WORK.

You realize what this mean, don't you?"

"A lot of things, but what are you thinking of in particular?"

"Aphrodite is going to try to put them in pink, and Eris is going to try to put them in black."

"Maybe we can let them dress one each."

"And you're going to have to do the 'you'll be a woman soon' speech," Accord piped up. Both his parents stared at him. He shrugged. "Don't look at

me like that--I didn't invent 'coming of age'. Look at it this way--she'll be easier to potty train than I was. You won't have to teach her to aim. You

can just plop her down on the chamber pot."

"That reminds me," said Joxer. "I need to see if we have that special chamberpot with a seat that we used for you, or if I need to get Hephastus to

make us a new one."

"Why shouldn't we have it?" said Ares. "I don't remember giving it to anyone, and how else could it disappear?"

"Sometimes I need things to plant saplings in. If I used it, I'll need to start figuring out somewhere else to plant it, and..."

"I think we have time to worry about that. And we'll need to get one from Heph anyway. We're going to have two kids--what happens if they both

get the urge at the same time?"

"You're going to want me to keep this quiet, right?" said Apollo.

"Absolutely," said Ares. "I'll have people staring at my belly soon enough without inviting them to do it."

Accord's eyes got wide, and Joxer said, "What?"

"Well, I was just thinking... You know how Auntie Eris is when she's *ahem* in her phase of the moon? What's it gonna be like if both of the girls are

really, really House of War?"

Ares groaned. "Between the three of them, we'll never have a day's peace."

"Could be worse," said Joxer.

"How?"

"Their periods could run in sync."

The look on Ares' face cause Apollo to give him another quick check over while Ares muttered, "I said it before and I'll say it again, Jox--if I didn't

trust you both, I'd think he was Strife's kid."

~*~

That night Ares and Joxer were cuddling in bed, discussing when and how to announce the good news. "We'd better tell Zeus right away," said Ares.

"He's an old goat, but he IS my father, the babies' grandfather, and King of the Gods. You don't slap someone like that in the face too many times,

and not just because he might thunderbolt your ass."

"I'm glad you think so. I know that your family has it's problems, but it says a lot for you that you're going to make the effort, even if he doesn't."

"You know what I think I'll do? I think I'll tell Zeus and Hera tomorrow, and... I can't believe I'm saying this. I'll ask his advice about how I should

make the official announcement."

Joxer kissed his cheek. "I can see where Accord gets his good son traits. I wonder what godhoods they'll get?"

"I hope that one of them gets a divinity in your area. You can use a little help. I've got Strife, Eris, Deimos, Phobos... You, you have to run around

formenting peace all by yourself."

"Sounds good to me, but I have no idea what that godhood would be. Maybe... Contemplation? Would that be a godhood?"

"I don't see why not. Most people could do with a little more thoughtfulness in their lives. I just hope that one of them isn't designated Goddess of

Irritation." Joxer pulled away, sitting up suddenly. "Babe?" Joxer looked down at him, and even in the dimness Ares could see the apprehensive look

on his face. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing."

Ares sat up, too. "Don't give me that. Maybe Xena and Gabrielle couldn't tell when you were upset, but I pay attention. We were feeling so good a

moment ago and now you're upset. I want to know what it is."

"All right--it's PROBABLY nothing. I mean, I'm probably borrowing trouble, but, well..."

"Joxer..."

"I was just thinking. You know, Zeus could have placed me in either the House of Love or the House of Intellect--my divinity could have fit into

either one."

Ares' brows lowered. "If he'd tried I wouldn't have HAD to do anything--Hera would have had his balls for trying to split up a committed couple. But

how did that upset you? It's over and done with."

"But if I was placed in House of War more or less as a courtesy... Ares, what about the babies?"

Ares stared at him for a moment. When he spoke his voice was low, slow, and deadly. "He---wouldn't---fucking---dare."

"He placed Cupid in the House of Love."

Ares sighed. "That wasn't exactly the same situation. He was with his mother, otherwise it would have been the same situation as now--Hera would

have had fits. But you know that in a situation between father and mother, the she's going to side with the mother." Ares' voice was heavy. "I didn't

like it, but I lived with it, because I knew that Dite would take good care of him, and wouldn't try to cut me out of his life. But I was younger then,

and I hadn't really learned what fatherhood was." He gave a bitter chuckle. "It wasn't as if I'd had much of an example." He put his arm around Joxer.

"I don't think that's really a possibility, so don't worry about it, Jox."

"I can't help it."

"Really, don't worry about it. It won't happen."

"How can you be sure?"

Ares bared his teeth. "Because if he tries it he'll either back down, we'll all pick up and leave Greece--or I'll kill him. It'll be his choice."



Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 9/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:Ares/Joxer est.
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: Ares can't understand Accord's behavior.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or

owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect

on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for

giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: Ares is about four months along now, and the events of Childhood Sweethearts are just beginning. In fact, it's right around Chapter Six--the

beach incident. For the events that happe off page, you might want to refer to Childhood Sweethearts, Ch.6-9 or 10
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 9/?
by Scribe

Joxer was rubbing Ares' feet. Ares had done it often enough for him when he was pregnant, and he insisted on returning the favor now. Ares had

rolled his eyes the first time Joxer offered, but his husband had insisted. Now Ares didn't want to admit it, but he really looked forward to it. He still

didn't ask--he waited for Joxer to offer. He admitted to himself, though, that that would probably change before the pregnancy was over.

Ares was stretched out on the sofa. Joxer had his feet in his lap and was slowly and firmly massaging his feet. Ares sighed, and Joxer looked up i

amusement. That had definitely been a voluptuous sound. "Anything?"

"I was just thinking--I bet Iolaus gives good foot massages."

Joxer's eyebrows went up. "Dare I ask what you mean by that?"

"Well, his success in the amourous pursuits are fairly legendary. I just have a feeling that this is a prime way to coax someone into bed."

"You know, if we didn't have Accord and more on the way, and Iolaus didn't have Herc and Polly, and if I had a suspicious nature..."

"If horses had wings, they'd fly. Oops, bad analogy, what with Pegasus and all... Ow! Watch it, my toes doen't bend that direction."

"There's teasing, and there's teasing, and you've about reached your daily limit."

Ares made a kissing motion at him. "I love you when you act jealous. I haven't seen Bliss today. Did he enjoy his trip to the beach?"

"Um... Up to a point."

"What point was that?"

"The point at which Bliss snatched him back to his temple without any warning or discussion. I think that Cord's exact words were that Bliss is a

snotty, bossy, mean chowderhead."

"Chowderhead?"

"Some future thing Strife taught him. I knew that he couldn't be REALLY angry because he said that instead of something really nasty."

Ares sat up alertly. "He wouldn't have done that unless there was some sort of trouble. What happened? Who do I kill?"

"Simmer down. Nothing really happened. It's just Bliss thought that one of the mermen was getting a little too friendly, so he removed Accord from

the situation, and Accord took offense."

"He did good. Bliss is going to make a terrific father some day--he's so good at lookig after the little ones." Joxer abruptly pushed Ares feet off his

lap. "Hey."

"Look, Ar, Accord isn't a little boy anymore. With a little bit of a stretch you could call him a young man."

"You'd have to stretch like Mjau when he gets up from a nap, and I think that cat can double his length for those few seconds."

"Okay, maybe he's not a man yet, but he's getting there fast. The point is, he doesn't see HIMSELF as a child anymore. I know that he'll always be

our baby to us, but we have to respect how he sees himself."

"That's all well and good, but what has it got to do with Bliss taking Accord away from a grabby fishman? You wouldn't happen to know his name,

would you?"

"No, and even if I did I wouldn't tell you. I've done enough in my life without having scales on my hands from getting him skinned. Look, the way I

understand it things hadn't gotten to the grabbing point. Bliss did a pre-emptive strike, and Accord felt insulted that Bliss didn't believe he could

handle it himself. But the real problem was when Accord found out that Bliss had gotten himself a grown up sized bed, and that he wanted Cord

sleeping in a guest room from now on."

Ares nodded. "Bliss is just about the right age to start taking lovers. Of course with him being House of Love I'm a little surprised that he'd be

embarrassed to have Accord sleeping in the same bed he had sex in, but it's pretty responsible of him. Accord is just going to have to realize that

Bliss is going to be wanting to spend time with some lovely ladies..." he chuckled, "or some good lookig guys, and they just aren't going to be as

tight as they were when they were children. It's part of growing up. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get a bath. Say, I know I don't need it

yet, but I think I'll see about getting Hephastus to put in some safety rails in the bathing pool, around the steps." He patted the shallow curve of his

belly. "There's going to come a point when this is hard to haul aroud, and I'll need them then."

He left, and Joxer let out the breath he'd been holding--to keep from verbally beating his husband over the head with the facts that he simply

wouldn't see. *He just doesn't get it. The reason Bliss is trying to banish Accord from his bedroom isn't because he's thinking about the other people

he'll share the bed with, it's because Accord is the only person he wants in it, and I believe that thought scares him a little.* Joxer smiled ruefully,

remembering when his relationship with Ares was new. *Yup. Love can be scary.*

About Four Weeks Later

Ares was toying with his food, staring at the plate. Joxer watched him, and finally said, "Okay. What is it? Is the nausea back?"

"No," sighed Ares.

"I didn't think so. Since this started you've either turned white or pale green when the pregnancy sickness hit you. Now you just look distracted. Are

you worried about that potential uprising in the East? I've already told you that you don't have to go handle that yourself. Jett offered to do a quiet

strike on the Prime Minister, since he's the one who's trying to arrange the coupe."

"No, no--that's not it, though I have to tell you, Joxer, when it comes to in-laws, I've been pretty lucky by Olympic standards. Jett is a real asset in

my line of work, and Jayce is at least stylish and amusing. I guess I'm just worried about Accord. He's been so quiet lately."

"Well, he was never exactly boistrous once he got past preschool age."

"I know, but he's gotten almost melancholy. Do you realize how long it's been since I've caught him walking along the edge of the roof, or on a high

branch?"

"I thought we were trying to discourage that?"

"We ARE, but damn it, it isn't natural for him to not do stuff like that. What do you think could be the matter?"

*I'll be damned if I'm going to tell you when I don't think our son has figured it out himself.* Joxer shrugged. "Probably just adolescence. It's a

stage--they get moody."

"I never did... Why are you laughing?"

Joxer snorted. Finally he managed to say, "Babe, I hate to tell you this, but you didn't need teen angst to be moody." He pinched Ares' cheek. "It

came naturally." Ares scowled. "Careful--you'll prove me right. Luckily I came along, and my naturally personable personality went a long way toward

lightening you up."

Ares tried to keep frowning, but his voice was amused. "Says who? Name one."

Joxer immediately started ticking off on his fingers. "Scribe, Dite, Strife, Cupid..."

Ares put a hand over his mouth. "I said ONE. Ow!" He pulled his hand back, shaking it. "You bit me."

Joxer said mildly, "I nipped, and that's not so much for covering my mouth--it can be really sexy when you do--but for that 'I said one' chestnut.

That was old when the Titans were teenyboppers."

"I guess you're right. I remember learning it from my nurse." He sighed. "There's nothing for it. I'm going to have to have a talk with that boy, tell him

to snap out of it."

"Oh, no you don't!" said Joxer firmly. "He'd probably be thrown into a fit of 'nobody understands me, I'm so alone', and run away from home." Ares

looked at him in alarm. "It happens. I don't think he'd be serious about it, but a lot of things can happen on those sort of undertakings, serious or

not." Joxer ran his hand down Ares arm. "I love you, but let's face it--sometimes you're just not Mister Tact. I'LL talk to him." He paused. "It's okay,

you can look relieved now."

"Good, because my face would freeze if I tried not to. You know how I feel, Jox. I'm just not always good with the verbalization."

"Whilst I can verbalize to beat the band. It's okay--you're the one who had that talk with him when he went through that phase when he tried to

pluck Bliss, claiming Bliss was a pigeon, and he wanted squab for dinner."

Ares chuckled. "I thought Strife was going to have a fit over that one. I don't think he managed to breathe for a good five minutes. Good thing he

didn't really need to."

~*~

Late the Next Day

"Joxer, what did you say to Accord?" asked Ares. "Now he doesn't just look distracted--he looks distracted, confused, and a little goofy."

"Nothing earthshaking," said Joxer casually. "He just had a few questions?"

Ares blinked. "I thought we covered all that when he was about twelve."

"Not THOSE kind of questions. Those are the easy ones. He was asking about love, not sex."

"Oh, THAT."

"Get that dismissive tone out of your voice."

"Joxer, he's too young to really be in love."

"Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that no matter what the age is, it feels real to the one who's experiencing it. And I'm very touched that he trusted

me enough to talk to me."

Ares grunted, then grinned. "Who's he in love with?"

*For heaven's sake. I love you, Ares, but does Olympus have to drop on your head?* "He didn't say."

"I bet it's one of the Muses. Those are pretty safe bets for first crushes. They aren't exactly of easy virtue, but they're, erm, sometimes generous,

and Apollo doesn't get mad as long as there isn't any sneakiness about it."

"I don't think it's one of the Muses."

Ares tucked a fist under his chin, looking thoughtful. "Hm... He was chatting with the merfolk when this all began. Yeah, I went through a mermaid

phase when I was about his age."

Joxer's eyes widened. "You did?"

Ares shrugged. "Hasn't everyone? It's just that not everyone has access to act on the impulse. C'mon, Jox. Are you going to tell me that if you were

down at the ocean and a gorgeous mermaid..." he smiled, "or a hot merman came up out of the water and gave you the..." he winked and jerked his

head, as if in invitation, "you wouldn't dive right in?" Joxer folded his arms and tucked his chin. "I mean before we got together, naturally."

"Oh, well. But actually--possibly not. Y'see, the way my life was going, I'd have figured they just wanted to drown me. But I don't think it's a

mermaid."

Ares stood up. "Well, it's not really my business. After all, it's probably nothing but puppy love." He walked out.

Joxer thought, *And you're conveniently forgetting that even Greagus and Cerberus where once puppies.*



Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 10/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:Ares/Joxer est.
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: Ares is still adjusting to the idea of pregnancy, let alone twins. Names are discussed.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or

owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect

on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for

giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: Ares is about five months along now. Yes, I've chosen the babies' names. No, I'm not telling you. Suffer. :)
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 10/?
by Scribe

"C'mon, Ares," said Joxer.

"No."

"Look, it's not like this is something new. You've tried it before, and you liked it."

"It's just not my style."

"I do it all the time."

"That's all right for you--it suits you."

Joxer put his hands on his hips. "Why? Because I'm not all virile and macho, like you?"

"Virile I can understand, but what the Tartarus is 'macho'?"

"A term I learned from Scribe. It's the same as virile, but obnoxious."

"Oh, THANK YOU! Now I'm obnoxious."

Joxer threw up his hands. "Here come the hormones!"

"Stop it, or I WILL get irritated."

More quietly Joxer said, "You know I'm right. You'll be comfortable, I promis."

"Oh, damn. All right." Ares waved his hand. There was a sparkle, and his tight-to-the-point-of-bursting leather trousers changed into much looser

soft linen. He tried to keep looking pissed, but he couldn't quite hold back the long exhale of relief.

"Better?" said Joxer.

"Yes, damn it." He lifted his shirt and examined his belly. "I have a crease just below my belly button.

Joxer went over and gave him a hug. "It will go away--eventually."

Ares hugged back, grumbling, "I knew this day was coming--I just didn't think it would be this soon. I thought I'd last at least till my sixth month

before I had to give up the leathers entirely. YOU did."

"I wasn't carrying twins, and Accord wasn't exactly a Titan." Joxer patted Ares' back. "I'm glad you gave in. I was starting to feel constricted just

looking at you. I could almost hear our kids gasping for air. Now," Joxer squeezed Ares, and wiggled his eyebrows. "Can you think of anything we

*cough* NEED to do right now?"

Ares smiled slowly. "Indeed I can. We need to discuss names."

Joxer blinked at him. "Oh-kay." He paused. "I thought that the hormones were supposed to make you horny? They did me."

"Oh, have no doubt that I intend to wear your ass out tonight. But right now we need to start considering what we're going to name the babies."

"We didn't choose Accords till he was born."

"That was because he arrived unexpectedly. We're just lucky that we made a good, apropriate choice. Anyway, we waited far too long to consider it

with him, and I'm not going to be brought up short this time. It's going to be twice as hard, too, because we'll have to come up with TWO names.

This may be rough."

Joxer sat beside Ares on a sofa. "It could be worse. At least we know the sexes, so we don't have to come up with four names--two male and two

female--to cover all possibilities."

"True. Can we agree right from the start that we're not naming these kids after anyone in the family?"

"Sounds good to me. The mortals get away with it because the first generation usually dies out before the second generation gets very old, so there

isn't much confusion. Up here you could end up with six or seven people with the same name running around. It would be confusing. And we

shouldn't just go by how the names sound, but consider the meanings, too. I mean, Aello sounds pretty, but when the kid learns her name means

'harpy' it could give her a complex."

"Agreed. I had an idea, and I want to run it past you. Would it be too very cutsie to give them alliterative names?"

"Given the fact that my name is Joxer, and I have brothers named Jett and Jayce, and my parents were named Jonas and Jocasta, and ..." He trailed

off. "I forgot what I was going to say. Jayce LIKES cute, who would dare tell Jett that anything about him was cute..."

Ares interrupted, "Scribe."

"Point taken, but you gotta admit she's kind of unique. And then I've never been considered cute."

"You haven't?" Ares kissed his nose.

"Stop that." But Joxer was smiling. "I lost track again. I think what I was going to say is that babies are cute to begin with, so you don't really NEED

alliteration or rhyming, but it isn't too offensive when they're young. You just have to be careful for when they grow up. I knew a family that named

their kids Randy, Mandy, Andy, and Sandy. When they had a fifth child the grandfather offered them two oxen if they'd name the child Marcus, so

they did." Joxer frowned. "Most confused little girl I ever saw."

"Rhyming is out--it's almost always too precious, but I like the aliteration idea."

"But not J, huh? There aren't any really good or appropriate girl J names. They all mean 'purple' or 'hyacinth'."

"Even your mother's?"

"We said no family names, and besides--her name is Jocasta. That means 'cheerful'." He spread his hands. Ares nodded. Joxer's mother was about

the furtherest thing from cheerful you could get this side of Eris.

"The only other J name I can think of is Jarine. That means 'farmer'."

Ares winced. "No! Zeus might hear that and decide to place her working with Demeter."

"Ack. Jarine is out. But how about giving them A names, in your honor?"

"You wouldn't mind?"

"Mind? I love you. Every time I say their names, I'll be reminded of you. And there are a lot of choices for girls names beginning with A. We ought to

think about names that might lead into their godhoods. We can't tell for sure what Zeus will decree, but given our House, we can make educated

guesses. How about Alecta--'honesty'? Or maybe Alathea--'truthful'. We could use a Goddess of Truth."

"We could go another direction and give them names for the qualities we hope they have. I like the sound of..." He thought. "Acnes, or Agna."

"Kind of awkward sounding. They... Oh. 'Chaste' and 'pure'? Wishful thinking. Who's going to be waiting at the door with a sword in his hand when

they start to go out with boys?"

"I am," said Ares bluntly. "But I suppose you're right. How about Adera, or Adonia?"

"'Beauty' and 'beautiful'. Better, but it's putting pressure on the pretty early, don't you think? What if one of them is, well..."

Ares' voice was hard. "Our daughters will be beautiful--period."

"No argument here. But the rest of the world may have defective eyesight, and kids can be cruel."

"I'll...!"

"KIDS, Ares. You can't blast 'em, no matter how much you think they deserve it. I think those names are better for someone like Dite. You know,

born fully grown, with all assets present and accounted for. Anyway, it's kind of shallow to focus so much on how a child looks."

"Yeah, you're right. We should concentrate on character instead."

"Yeah. Like... like Althea--'wholesome'."

"Gag."

"Oh, I forgot. House of War--don't do 'nice'. Sorry. There's Agalia--'happy'."

"That's better. But what if she turns out to be one of those old souls, one that Hades has sent back through the void a couple of times? They're

always sober, if not gloomy."

"How about Agueda? It means 'kind'."

"Love the meaning--hate the way it sounds."

"Yeah. Come to think of it, it does sound a little like someone trying to clear their throat." Joxer suddenly snickered, and Ares gave him a questioning

look. "Okay, I know we said no family names. This one isn't EXACTLY a family name. I mean, it doesn't reference the name itself, but a characteristic

that's so much like one of the babies' close relatives that it would be hard to miss."

"Well?"

"Acacia--'thorny'."

Ares stared at him, then burst out laughing. After a moment he wiped his eyes. "Eris would love it. Or we could call one of the Anastasia."

"What does that mean?"

"Resurrected."

Joxer was silent for a moment, then said, "For Strife?" Ares nodded, his smile fading a little. Joxer hugged him. "It's beautiful, but I don't think we

should. It might make him cry, and you know he hates having people know he's sentimental. Look, we don't have to settle this right now. We've

made a good start, and we can talk some more over the next month or so, all right?"

"All right." Ares snorted, then snickered.

"What?"

"I just thought of another one. Akakia."

Joxer considered it. "It's a little exotic, but not bad. What's it mean?"

"Guileless."

Joxer brightened. "Hey, that's a great meaning. Maybe... Why are you shaking your head?"

"Joxer, can you name the people that our girls will most likely spend most of their time with?"

"Let's see... Given their age and sex, I'd say Polytimos and... Impetua."

"Unless Hercules takes Dad up on the offer of divinity, and we both know that's unlikely, it's going to be mainly Impetua. Outside of us, the girls' main

model of behavior is going to be Impetua--Goddess of Jealousy and Envy. Guileless? Pleeeeease."





Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 11/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:Ares/Joxer est.
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: Ares and Joxer deal with one of the more unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no

agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have

not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on

the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing

but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is

meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings: If the concept of anything having to do with bodily wastes offends you, you might want to

skip this one. No, I don't go into details (not my kink), but I know that just the IDEA makes some

people uncomfortable.
Notes:
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which

can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 11/?
by Scribe

Chapter Eleven

At the breakfast table, Joxer put down his fork and looked across at Ares. "All right--what's wrong

now?"

"I resent that last word--'now'. It implies that I'm being difficult."

Joxer took a second to bite the inside of his mouth. "Of course you aren't, but the way you're glaring,

I'd almost believe I could boil an egg in the milk jug. What is it?"

"Have you noticed that I'm barefoot?"

*I will not tempt my husband to cream me by making a comment about 'barefoot and pregnant', no

matter how easy it would be.* Joxer leaned over and peeked beneath the table. "Yep. Sexiest set of

feet I've ever seen."

"Liar. I am barefooted because I couldn't get my boots on over my ankles. I look like I'm wearing donuts

around my ankles."

"No, you don't. They're a little puffy, but that's natural." Joxer got up and dragged a stool over.

"Sideways."

"Joxer..."

"Turn sideways. Now." Ares did, and Joxer slipped the stool under his feet. "I told you that you needed

to start propping your feet up as much as possible."

"Apollo didn't say I have to."

"Has Apollo ever been pregnant? No? I have. I want you to listen to him, but listen to me, too. He

hasn't told you because he hasn't seen you since your feet really started to puff up the last few days.

He WILL tell you--I promise."

Ares grumbled, but peered down his legs, wiggling his toes. "At least this way I can still see my toes.

That propping my head on my hands when I'm laying on my back trick doesn't work anymore. I have to

bend in the middle if I want to see them--straight up and down doesn't work anymore."

"They're still there--trust me."

"It's just a nuisance."

"Well, if you want to go to Accord's natal day celebration, you need to rest as much as possible the

next few days."

Ares smiled. "That's right--it's this month, isn't it? Sixteen." He shook his head. "Where does the time

go?" Ares smiled nostalgically. "It seems like only yesterday he was so tiny and helpless. Now... Well,

he's almost a man, isn't he?"

"Yes," said Joxer quietly. "He is. I'm glad you see that, and I hope you remember it." *It'll make

accepting certain things a lot easier.* Ares had started to lift his feet down off the stool. "Keep those

up there. If you can't get that swelling down Apollo's going to insist that you attend in a litter, like one

of those Chin potentates." Joxer glanced at the table, specifically Ares plate, and frowned. "You didn't

eat your figs."

"I'm burned out on figs."

"Then eat your dates."

"Burned out on them, too."

"Oh, come on. They're good for you." Joxer elbowed him jokingly. "Keep you regular." He was looking at

Ares' plate even more closely, frowning. "In fact, you've hardly eaten anything. You've mostly just

moved the food around on your plate. You can't do that. Look, I know that you're feeling a little

sensitive about your weight, but you're eatinf for two now, and..."

"That isn't it. Tartarus, Joxer, I'm past that. Well, maybe not past it, but I've decided to put off my

real fit ptiching till my eighth month or so."

"Then EAT. Hestia sent over a beautiful loaf of her honey-wheat bread." Ares made a face. Joxer

coaxed, "I have some of that chocolate-nut spread Strife brought back from the future--Nuttollo, or

something like that."

"No, thanks."

"But you love that stuff. Have the porridge, then. I'll put in lots of honey and cinnamon."

"I know you're just doing this because you're worried about me, but leave it."

Finally Joxer's gentle expression turned firm. "This isn't like you. You're not overly concerned with food,

but you've never AVOIDED it. Well, except some of my earlier efforts at cooking. Tell me what's going

on."

Ares rubbed his forehead. "Damn. I was hoping that I wasn't going to have to go into this. You

remember saying that dates keep you regular? Well, so do the other foods you mentioned. I've talked

with Apollo, and he said that certain types of food have parts that your body can't use, and that's

what makes up our crap. It takes out all the impurities, so we need this. We need it to happen

regularly, so we need to eat certain amounts of that stuff. Well, if your body for some reason decides

that it isn't going to do that, the stuff just sort of piles up and Joxer--there's only so much you can

hold in your guts till you get VERY uncomfortable..."

Joxer's expression had gradually gone slack. Now he looked enlightened. "You're constipated."

"I am BEYOND constipated. That chamberpot hasn't seen anything but liquid for three days."

"THREE DAYS?!" Joxer jumped up and grabbed his arm. "Apollo's. Now."

Ares pulled his arm away. "Will you calm down? I TOLD you--I've talked to him."

"And he didn't do anything? I don't believe that."

"I talked to him yesterday. When this happens--and it doesn't happen often here on Olympus, usually

just with the kids--he has a potion to take care of it. But he doesn't want to give it to me because of

the baby. He said that this situation was fairly routine for pregnant people, and it usually corrected

itself. If it didn't I should come back to him."

"Well, it hasn't, so come on."

"No."

Joxer startled Ares by banging his fist on the table. "I am NOT going to risk you rupturing something!

We're going over there and he's going to... to..." He paused. "What IS he going to do? If he can't give

you a potion, is he going to cast a spell?" Now Joxer sounded interested, even past his worry. "Surely

there's not an ointment he could rub on that would make you...? Sounds like something Strife would

invent, then slip it into someone's sensual massage oil."

"Don't you DARE mention that to him. Okay, Joxer. I'm not going to get specific about this, but do you

remember when we were having trouble with the bathing pool overflowing, and it turned out that it was

because Accord's hair was clogging up the drain?"

"Yeah. Boy, talk about a mess."

"And one of the priests fixed it. You watched, right? Do you remember how he did it?"

"Yep," said Joxer. "It was pretty disgusting. First he tried to wash it out, but the sqeeze bottle couldn't

get up enough force. So then he pushed his sleeve up and shoved his hand into the drain, then pulled

out a big, dripping... Ouou..."

"Precisely. They don't call a human's insides 'plumbing' for nothing. I'm not going anywhere near Apollo."

Ares glanced upwards, and there was a hum of energy. "And there's no use trying to bring him here,

because I just put of a barrier that will keep him out. Just him. And Ace." Joxer was scowling at him,

and Ares knew that he was in immenent danger of having his ass hauled off forcibly. "Look I want one

more day--just one. If something hasn't happened by then, I'll go."

Joxer took a deep breath. "I'll agree on one condition. I'm going to make a report to him and see if

there's anything else we could do here, and as long as it isn't, er..."

"He calls it an enema."

"As long as it isn't that, you'll do it."

"All right." There was a hint of wistfulness in his voice. "Don't be mad at me."

Joxer leaned over and kissed him. "I'm not mad at you. Irritated, yes--but not mad. You're my favorite

pighead in the world." *FLASH*

Ares sighed. "Maybe if I could make myself drink olive oil."

~*~

*FLASH* "Any change in status?" asked Joxer.

"No," said Ares. "Not unless you count being a little more uncomfortable. I ate some raisins. I should

have realized that if they looked so much like prunes they'd have the same effect. Did Apollo have an

alternative treatment?"

Joxer sat beside him. "Actually, he did."

"Not an enema?"

"No. Um... Not exactly. Y'see, he has these little things about as big as my thumb. They look sort of

like wax, and they're called 'suppositories'."

Ares held out his hand. "Fine, them to me. I'll take anything to get this over with."

"You don't eat them."

"I thought we agreed that rubbing something on probably wouldn't work."

"You don't rub them on."

"You don't swallow them, and you don't rub them on. How else could you take them? How else could

you get them inside?" Joxer looked at him, and raised his eyebrows. Ares thought a moment. "Oh. Oh,

no. No way. No FUCKING way!"

"You have to understand that normally I wouldn't say this to you, but this isn't a normal situation: it

isn't as if you've never had something up there before."

"I love you, and I know you're concerned, so I'm not going to hurt you for that."

"Thank you."

"I'm not doing it."

"Actually, it's sort of hard to do it for yourself. Apollo advised that I should do it for you." Ares didn't

say anything. He didn't SAY anything--the noise he made could not in any way be interpretted as a

word. "You promised."

"I don't care if..."

"You've never broken a promise to me, and I trust you not to now."

"You're fighting dirty, Joxer. Playing the trust card."

"I'm fighting for the well being of the man I love. I just never thought I'd have to fight WITH him to

fight FOR him. Please don't make me break out the Hephastean chains." He put an arm around his

husband's shoulders. "It won't be so bad. I'll give you a nice massage, get you really relaxed, use a lot

of oil, and you'll hardly know when I... uh... dose you."

"I love you so don't lie to me." He scowled. "All right. But if word of this ever gets out, I'm going to

have to leave Greece. If Strife is the first one to find out, I'll have to leave the HEMISPHERE."

~*~

Accord found Joxer in one of the family rooms. "Pop? Why do you look like Cerberus has been chasing

you around Olympus?"

"I only wish it had been something that calm and peaceful."

"You're the God of Peace and Serenity--it isn't natural for you to look this stressed. It has to be

something to do with family." His voice became anxious. "What's wrong with Dad?"

"Don't get worried, Cord. It's nothing really serious--not yet, anyway. And we're working on it."

"But what IS it?"

"I can't tell you. He swore me to secresy."

"POP!"

"I didn't think your hair could stand straight up, as long as it is. Calm---down!"

Accord immediately became much less adgitated, and he knew what was responsible. "Use you divine

soothing powers all you want. I'm a god, so it'll wear off, and when it does I'll be right back pitching a

fit if I don't know what's going on. What's happened to Dad?"

"It's more what HASN'T happened."

Accord blinked. "Oh. Constipated, huh?"

Joxer did a double take at him. "How did you guess that?"

Accord shrugged. "You said it was something that hadn't happened, so I figured either urination or

pooping, and I figured that if it was no peeing you'd be a lot more upset, and Dad would have been a

lot more bloated, so that left pooping."

"You're a bright boy. Just be sure that if you make any comments to your Dad that you emphasize that

I didn't actually tell you--you guessed."

"Got it. I think I'll go look in on him, try to cheer him up. I know when I've been constipated I've felt

rotten." He went out into the hall. A second later he hurried back in, not quite slamming the door, and

fell back against it, clapping his hand over his mouth.

"What is it, Accord?" asked Joxer.

Accord waved at him to wait a minute. His shoulders were shaking. When he could finally speak his

voice trembled. "I shouldn't laugh. I REALLY shouldn't laugh. I mean, it's serious to him, and it's a

legitimate physical problem, but oh, man--the way he was walking! It's like he has something... Pop,

you didn't give him a suppository, did you?"

"Accord!"

"Well, you know I've been working with Apollo, and that's the approved treatment, and if THAT doesn't

work they get a wine skin of warm water and a tube, and..."

"TOO MUCH INFORMATION! It was the first one, and I hope to Zeus it worked, because if it didn't I'm

probably going to need Strife, Hephaestus, and Hercules combined to get him over to Apollo's, no

matter what he promised."

Accord left, and a few minutes later Ares entered the room, dropping down on the sofa next to Joxer.

"How are you?" asked Joxer.

"I had to use the chamberpot." Joxer raised an eyebrow. "Relax. It did not merely slosh this time." They

both heaved sighs. "I feel like I've lost about ten pounds, all of it from below the belt." He grimaced. "I

love you, Jox, but you're not getting any booty for awhile. The very thought makes me wince."

"As I said to someone recently--too much information, but the first part is good news. Anyway," he

embraced Ares and kissed him. "There's more than one way to find the Elyssian fields, and what I'm

thinking of doesn't involve Hades. Not unless you're REALLY kinky."



Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 12/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:Ares/Joxer est.
Status: WIP
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: At Accord's sixteenth natal day, Ares finally gets a clue.
Archive: Yes
Feedback: Yes. On list, or to poet77665@catlover.com
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no

agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have

not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on

the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing

but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is

meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: There may be a few inconsistencies between this and the same event in Childhood

Sweethearts. Well, things look different from different viewpoints. The wolf and roses line is from You

Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth by Meatloaf (now known as just Meat) LOVE YA, MEAT!
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which

can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 12/?
by Scribe

Chapter Twelve

A Week or So Later

"Thank Tartarus it's finally going to be over with," grumbled Ares. "I think that if we had to keep the

surprise party a secret one more day we'd all end up with ulcers."

"You and me, maybe," said Joxer. "Not everyone, though. It's part of Hermes' job, Dite enjoyes

subterfuge, and Strife is in his element."

Ares figited. "I wish we could go over to the amphitheater. I'd like to check to be sure the preparations

are going according to plan."

"Ar, we have half the goddesses in the Pantheon marshalling to set up this shindig. I think that even

the Fates have been scared into holding back the disasters. We can go as soon as he leaves for

Hestia's."

Accord popped his head into the room. "Yo, dads. I'm out of here. If you need me, I'll be with Hestia

today. We're going to be helping out at some sort of special doo-dah down on earth."

"Okay," Joxer replied. "Give her my regards." Accord circled his thumb and forefinger in the sign for 'all

right' that Strife had taught him, and left. Joxer and Ares both listened closely to his receeding

footsteps. Then there was the creak of the massive front door. At the thunk that heralded it's closure,

Joxer stood up. "Let's go. Give me your arm."

Ares stood up and let Joxer take his elbow. "I hate this. In all my life I've gotten sick

once--ONCE--from transporting..."

"Ares, if you remember last Winter Solstice..."

"That wasn't the transporting--that was the grog I'd been drinking before I travelled. Anyway," he

rested a hand on the swell of his belly. "I get over morning sickness only to start puking every time I

transport. Life is not fair."

"You mean to tell me that you're just learning that--at your age? Ready? Okay, here we go."

*FLASH* *urp*

Ares grimaced. "I'm glad I knew enough to bend over as soon as we appeared." He started to kick some

dirt over the mess near his feet.

Joxer materialized a chair and steered Ares into it. "Leave that alone. I'll get rid of it." He materialized a

damp cloth and a glass of wine, handing them over. Ares wiped his face and used the wine to rinse his

mouth out. Joxer was peering at the upchuck. "Did you eat breakfast this morning?"

"Joxer! Tartarus, don't ANALYZE it--get rid of it." Joxer flashed the mess away, then materialized a

small dish of ambrosia. "I just got through being sick and you want me to eat that?"

"Do like you used to tell Bliss to do--hold your nose for the first bite. You know that once you get some

down it'll settle your stomach."

"Damn." Ares pinched his nose and opened his mouth. Joxer spooned in a small amount of the pink goo.

Ares made a face as he swallowed, but immediately some of the tension left his face. "All right, give it

to me." He took the bowl and started eating it.

"Slow down."

"Joxer, I've been forced to study a lot of history, and as far as I know there's never been a death of

choking or strangling on ambrosia. Besides, I want to get this out of the way before Accord gets here.

There can't be much time." He looked around the arena they'd appeared in. "I see that someone

reigned Dite in on the decorations. In fact, they must have jerked the reigns hard. The decorations are

less than half pink."

"I think that every time Dite put up three items," said Joxer, "Eris or Demeter would sneak in and

change one or two out."

"Psssst!" Ares and Joxer looked around. Strife was leaning out of a corridor that was set in the wall of

the surrounding arena. "Hey! Get yer butts in here before he comes, or all tha sweatin ta make this a

surprise is gonna go right down tha crapper." Joxer gave Ares his hand so that he could get up without

struggling. As they walked over to join Strife, the chair disappeared behind them. As they arrived Strife

said, "Ya just gotta come in far enough ta be out of sight. We don't wantcha gettin in tha thick of the

crowd, what with yer condition an' all."

"Crowd?" said Ares. He got a look at the dim hall. "Oh, yeah. Crowd." The hall behind Strife was packed.

Just to start with there were his parents and all his siblings, and their kids.

Strife grinned. "Ya didn't think anyone was gonna take a pass on Cord's major natal day, didya?" Strife

turned to the crowd and clapped his hands for attention. "Awright, listen up, people. When they show

up, Hestia's gonna finagle Accord inta lookin at his cake. That's our signal. I'll give tha sign, and we ALL

transport ta that spot just in front of tha middle table an' yell 'Happy Natal Day, Accord!'"

Apollo, near the front of the crowd, said, "I thought 'Surprise' was traditional."

"Surprise has been done ta death. It took us a half hour ta agree on tha words, 'Pol, so don't go ballin

things up, 'kay?" He peeked out, then said hoarsely, "An' there they are! Get ready." He was so excited

that he was bouncing up and down. "He's settin down tha box." His voice was rising. "She's openin tha

box!" He raised his hand... Then brought it down sharply. "NOW!"

*MASSIVEFLASH*

"HAPPY NATAL DAY, ACCORD!"

It was impressive, and it was obvious that Accord hadn't suspected a thing. Strife teased him about

having been taken by surprise, and Accord assured him that they'd succeeded wonderfully. "I was

thinking everyone had forgotten."

Ares made his voice mock insulted. "You were?"

Accord smiled. "Okay, so I wasn't really. I was having a moment of 'I'm a teenager, so the world

doesn't understand'."

Joxer hugged him. "You're entitled. Did we really surprise you, or are you just humoring us?"

"It's a good thing I'm completely potty trained, and hadn't drunk a lot of water before I went to

Hestia's."

Ares and Joxer stood back to allow the rest of the relatives to squeeze in to offer their

congratulations. Ares took notice when Polytimous, the daughter of Hercules and Iolaus, gave Accord a

kiss, then hurried away, blushing. Here was proof that his son would soon be getting involved with girls,

though he rather hoped it wouldn't be Polly. He had no problem with the fact that they were cousins.

There'd been much closer connections in the Pantheon. He elbowed Joxer. "See?" he said. "She's

already got a crush on him. Of course she's too young for him--now, anyway. Since he isn't going to

age after a few years, that wouldn't be much of an issue. But the idea of having Herc as an in-law..."

"I don't think you have to worry about that."

The party really got started. Ares watched as Scribe laid a big red kiss mark on Accord's forehead. Ares

considered Scribe as a possible partner for Accord. Not with Jett in the picture. *Tartarus. I thought I

wasn't going to start worrying about possible life partners for my kid till I had a girl.*

Zeus raised Accord to his full divinity a little later. Ares saw Joxer rubbing tears of joy from his eyes.

Ares didn't cry, no--not at all. And he managed to swallow down the lump in his throat. Ares allowed

the other party guests to mob Accord in congratulations for a few moments, but he knew that Accord

had never been someone who gloried in confusion and crowds. Still, his son would never protest

himself, for fear of hurting his relatives' feelings. Ares stepped in and began removing people from the

crowd, saying, "Okay, okay--he knows that you think he's a fine fellow, and you think that he's going

to be the most kick-butt god to come along in this, or the next century. Now let him breathe."

A few of the relatives started to protest and Joxer informed them they should be happy that Ares was

feeling mellow--considering the hormones.

The party really got going after that. Ares was seated near the food and away from the band, and

Joxer started ferrying him food and drink. It was a nice party--a little quiet by Olympic standard, but

that was in keeping with the dignity accompanying Accord's ascention. Ares finally looked up from his

plate, and noticed that Accord was nowhere in sight. "Where's Accord? The guest of honor shouldn't

sneak off." Scribe started up a particularly blaring song. "He should stay here and have his ears bleed

with the rest of us."

Joxer shook his head. "Oh, come one. I know damn good and well you're going to use that 'on a hot

summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses line on me somewhere down

the line."

"Probably not until I've given birth. Where is he?"

Joxer pointed toward a hallway. "Bliss is giving him his present. I don't know what it is exactly, but I

got a glimpse of the package when he went to store it, and it was making noises." Ares muttered about

having hoped that Accord wouldn't be getting an animal till he'd moved out on his own, and started

toward the corridor. "Uh, Ar? I'm not sure that's a good idea."

"It's his natal day. I'm not going to try to make him give it up. I just want to know what I should

expect." Under his breath he muttered, "I just hope it isn't something that'll eat your cat."

He came to the hallway, looking in to see how far inside the boys had gone, trying to remember if there

were any side hallways they might have gone down. That wasn't an issue, because they were right

there, about halfway down the corridor. Boy, were they there. Together--kissing. And it wasn't just a

'hey, we're related, bend down so I can give you a smack on the forehead' kiss, either.

It was a full blown lip-lock. Accord was wrapped in Bliss' arms, but in no way did it look as if he was

being... held. Held as in 'against his will'. No. The thing was that while most of Ares' mind was

screaming 'WRONG!' pat of it was going, 'Huh. Well, sure. Duh.' Ares stood a couple of seconds

watching his son and his grandson kiss, then backed up slowly and turned. Feeling a little numb, he

went back to Joxer and sat beside him again.

Joxer was watching him apprehensively. "Are you all right? You're not going to faint or anything, are

you?"

"No." he cleared his throat. "Joxer, I want you to stay calm. I just saw something that's going to shock

you..."

Joxer closed his eyes. "Oh, Tartarus. Tell me you didn't peek at Bliss and Accord having sex."

"WHAT?!"

"Lower your voice!" Joxer hissed. "Hermes just looked around. You know that anything he finds out

makes it from one end of Olympus to the other in a flash."

"But Joxer, my son and grandson were KISSING!"

"Where?"

"Back in that hallway."

"No--I mean WHERE? On the lips?"

"Of course on the lips!"

"The way you're taking on I thought someone might have been kissing somewhere a whole lot more

interesting."

"JOXER!"

"ARES! Oh, Tartarus, too late. Here he comes." Joxer grabbed Ares arm. "So help me, if you say

anything that will get our son embarrassed you aren't going to have to worry about when we can start

having sex after the babys are born. Y'll be waiting till you're worrying about THEIR sex life." He raised

his voice slightly. "Hermes, I wanted to thank you for getting the message about the party out. That

was one more thing I didn't have to worry about."

The small blond man who'd just walked up smiled at him sunnily. "Just doing m' job, Jox. Happy to help.

Say Ares, you all right? You seem a little, um, agitated."

Out of sight of Hermes, Joxer pinched Ares' arm. Ares stared at his husband, then looked at his brother.

"The babies moved. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of having life

inside me."

Hermes looked vaguely disappointed for a second--he'd obviously been hoping for some gossip--but

then he nodded, smiling. "That has to be pretty awe inspiring." He shook a finger at Ares. "I'm going to

be pissed if you two don't notify me at the first cramp, so I can have the pleasure of spreading the

news that the babies are coming."

"Promise," said Joxer. "We'll even tell you before Cupid and his family, as long as you promise to tell

them first thing."

"It's a deal. Ares, maybe you ought to conjure up a nice tent. You're looking a little pale."

"You may be right about him over doing it," said Joxer. "I think that we've probably had enough activity

for the day, and should go home." Bliss and Accord were emerging from the hall. Accord was holding

the caged owl in his arms. His braid was a little askew, but he looked very happy. "Cord?" Joxer called.

"We need to go now?"

Accord slanted a look at Bliss and said, "Kind of early, isn't it?"

"Oh, not you--just your father and I. You stay as long as you like." He smiled. "After all, you're a man

now, and it's time you started making your own decisions. Just remember that if you come home late

and wake us up, you'll hear about it later." Joxer pointed at the cage. "Nice owl. That oak tree on the

left side of the garden had a nice hollow in it that should be perfect for him."

"Her."

"Perfect for her. But before you let her out of that cage, have a VERY strong talk with her about Mjau.

I'm going to keep him in for a couple of days till we can have Gaia have a talk with her."

"Will do."

Joxer gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Happy natal day again, son." Joxer glared at his husband, the

unspoken message clear. 'Say something, but it damn sure better be the right thing.'

"Happy natal day, Accord." Ares took a breath. "You do know that I'm proud of you?"

"I know, Dad."

"I can't imagine you ever doing anything that will change that." He gave Accord a one-armed hug, and

there was only a touch of awkwardness in it. Anyone observing would think that it was just the

perfectly normal reluctance of War to show a 'soft' emotion in public. Ares patted Accord. "You'll be

taking up your official duties tomorrow, and it's going to be a little hectic, getting started. Try not to

be too late." He took a step back, standing beside Joxer, preparing to flash out. "Accord? Be careful."

Joxer took Ares arm. Ares glanced over and got a look at his expression. *Uh-oh. I'm catching it when

we get home.*

*FLASH*


Title: You Knew What You Were Getting Into 13/?
Author: Scribe
Fandom: Xena
Pairing:Ares/Joxer est.
Status: WIP
Previous sections can be found at http://www.AresJoxerCupidStrife.com
Series/Sequel: Part of the Love and Mischief Universe
Summary: Ares has a talk with Joxer after he discovers Bliss and Accord are interested in each other 'that way'.
Archive: Yes
Disclaimer: I did not create and do not own any readily recognizable media characters. I have no agreement, legal or otherwise, with the creators or owners. This is purely for entertainment--I have not made, do not seek, and will not accept any profit for it. This story is in no way meant to reflect on the lives or life styles of the actors/actresses who originally portrayed the characters. I have nothing but fond affection and respect for them, for giving me so much entertainment, and no disrespect is meant by anything herein.
Rating: Adult for series
Warnings:
Notes: There will almost certainly be discrepencies between this version and the one in Childhood Sweethearts. This is a fictional universe--deal with it. Ares is almost six months along here.
Personal Websites: http://www.scribescribbles.com and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver (which can be reached through the previous site).

You Knew What You Were Getting Into, 13/? by Scribe

*Flash* *whack*

"Ow!" Ares rubbed the back of his head. "Joxer, you're not supposed to hit a pregnant man."

"Zeus might have been able to get away with that excuse," growled Joxer, "but THAT," he whacked him again, "is not where you're pregnant. 'Be careful.' ARES!"

"Hey, that's a perfectly legitimate farewell. How many times have I told him to be careful when we part?"

"But this time you weren't warning him about petting strange dogs or taking baklava from strangers."

"He didn't know that."

"Then why say it?" Ares sat down, rubbing his forehead. Joxer saw how confused and pained his husband was looking, and relented. Sitting beside him, Joxer said, "Look, Ar--I know this has got you befuddled, but you don't need to make an issue of it. We both knew that Accord was going to get romantically active soon. We've talked about it."

"But we never discussed him getting involved with a family member."

"This being Olympus, and since it wasn't going to be you or I, it just didn't seem like a big issue. If the gods were strict about never touching the issue of their own blood the population up here would be much sparser."

"I know. But a son hooking up with a grandson is still pretty eyebrow raising, even by our standards."

Joxer studied him. "Is it just the relations issue?"

"What else could it be?" Ares shrugged. "Sure, I've been looking forward to grandkids, but..." He noticed Joxer's swiftly darkening expression, and realized his mistake.

"I'm not even going to mention Strife and myself," said Joxer, his voice very calm and controled. "I'm just going to do this." He reached out and gave Ares' mounded belly a firm rub.

Ares' voice was genuinely contrite. "I'm sorry, babe. I'm long past gender issues, you know that. This just sort of took me by surprise."

Joxer relented, and hugged Ares' shoulders. "Ar, you're the most brilliant man in existance when it comes to battle tactics, and you're a pretty damn good judge of character, but when it comes to romance..." Joxer tapped Ares' forehead with his knuckles. "Thick as a brick."

"I'm not that bad."

"How long did it take you to realize that you loved me?" When Ares started to speak, Joxer held up his hand. "Realize it and ADMIT it to yourself."

"The admitting took awhile," said Ares reluctantly. "But what about you? How long was it before you knew you loved ME?"

"Oh, I've always known that," said Joxer simply. When Ares cocked an eyebrow he continued, "I'll admit that it took me a little longer to realize that I was IN love with you." He frowned. "It was that whole godhood thing. I kind of knew it, but I was denying it because it seemed so hopeless. I thought if I didn't admit it, I wouldn't have to deal with it." He smiled. "So you're not the only one in this family who occasionally doesn't see what's under his nose--but my case isn't as severe as yours. Ares, I want you to consider this carefully. Don't you want the best person in the world for both Bliss and Accord?"

"Of course I do."

"And can you think of any two individuals who'd make better mates for anyone?" Ares started to say something, then closed his mouth. "They've been moving toward this for a long, long time, Ar. Maybe you were just too close to both of them to see it. I had a little distance on Bliss, and I think that helped. Tell me--how long have the boys been best friends?"

Ares shrugged. "All their lives."

"I'm going to take that a step further. I say they've been best friends since before Accord was born. Bliss was the first person to know that Accord was on his way. I think he knew even before I did. And do you remember how he used to 'talk' to Accord, when he was still inside me? We thought we were humoring Bliss. Now I'm not so sure. I think there's a very good chance that the boys share a connection that goes beyond what's readily observable."

Ares grunted. They just sat together for a few moments. Finally Ares said, "You knew."

"As close to knowing without seeing physical proof, or having a confession--yes."

"Cupid knew?"

"I think so."

"Strife DEFINITELY knew. Something like this is right up his alley. I guess Dite knew. The Fates must've known. Am I really the last one to know?"

"Nah. I'm pretty sure that Demeter hasn't a clue."

"Oh, that's a comfort." He was quiet again, then he chuckled.

"What?"

"I bet the Fates have been sweating about whether or not they should make some sort of pronouncement about this. I'm just glad that I don't have to interpret whatever sort of gobbledygook they would have come up with." Joxer laughed. "What?"

"I'm imagining Gabrielle pouring over the prophecy, trying out different interpretations, correcting their grammar." He shook his head. "You can add her to the clueless club, Ar. She'd never figure Bliss and Accord because unless a guy either wears a dress or kisses another guy in front of her, she can't imagine him not wanting a woman--probably her."

Ares pressed a hand to his belly. "Please. I'm over morning sickness--don't get me started again. When do you think they plan on telling us?"

"I'm pretty sure that none of this is planned. We didn't plan what happened with us. Cupid and Strife didn't plan... Wait." Joxer smiled. "I think maybe Cupid did. But people usually don't set dates on things like this. Actually, I think there's a good chance that there won't be any 'official' announcement. I don't think that Bliss and Accord are going to come in here holding hands and say, 'Dads, there's something we need to tell you'. I think they give us credit for eventually figuring it out on our own."

Ares ran a hand through his hair. "Looks like their belief in my perception is misplaced."

"You're late, but you caught it. You not only caught it, but you're carrying it very well. Before we got together and I exercised my," he rolled his eyes, "civilizing influence on you..." Ares snorted. "Gabrielle's terms, not mine. Before that, though, I wouldn't have been surprised if such a situation wouldn't have had you roaring and slinging fire balls. Not necessarily AT anyone--just on general principles. You didn't even swallow your tongue--you just came close to hyperventilating. I'd call that real progress." He patted Ares on the shoulder, then stood up. "I guess I'll go check that oak tree to be sure there's going to be room for Accord's owl. And Mjau is just going to have to stay in one room till I can get Accord to talk to Sophie and Scribe to talk to Mjau."

Joxer went out into the garden, and Ares did what he was doing more and more often lately--located a chamber pot and put it to good use. As Scribe had said more than once, a good tinkle at the right time could change your entire outlook on life. Ares was hoping that it would at least clear his mind a little.

It didn't help much, so he sat down again, and thought. Bliss was a good boy. Accord was a good boy. They were both decent, loving, kind, sensible... Ares recalled Accord's last foray along the edge of the roof. *Well, RELATIVELY sensible, anyway. These are two of the people that I love most in this world. Like Joxer said, can I honestly think of anyone I'd trust one of them with more than the other one?*

He glared at the ceiling. "If there's a Higher Power, like Gabrielle yammers about, all I have to say is that you have a damn odd sense of humor, and you can't POSSIBLY be a father."



Chapter Fourteen

*whooshbamthudclangclatter*

That was the sound of a warlord being hit by a force ball, and being thrown into a wall by the impact.

*snatchclankrattlerattlechatter*

That was the same warlord being snatched up by his tunic and shaken till his teeth chattered. Said warlord knew that he was as close to death as he'd ever been, but somehow the only thing he could think was, *Please, Zeus, don't let anyone know I was killed by a seven month pregnant man--even if he IS the God of War.*

Ares had the man up on his tip-toes (normally he would have hefted him completely off the floor, but he'd been forbidden to do any heavy lifting, what with his condition.) He snarled into the cringing man's face. "YOU WAIT FOR RECONAISSANCE, YOU IDIOT! I DON'T CARE HOW DEFENSELESS THEY SEEM. DIDN'T IT OCCURE TO YOU THAT IT MIGHT BE A --TRAP--?" He tossed the man into the wall again and growled, "If you'd done like you'd been taught you wouldn't have lost a platoon of good warriors, and let me remind you that ALL warriors are MINE--so that means that you killed off my followers with your STUPIDITY!"

"Pleasepleasepleaseplease..."

"Oh, stop wetting your loincloth! I'm not going to kill you..." He dragged the man up against him, getting right in his face, "THIS time!"

*Even his belly feels menacing. What the hell is he carrying? Whatever it is, I'm damn sure going to worship him--her--whatever. That is if I'm allowed to live long enough.*

Ares was continuing. "You DO know that normally I'd have just punched your heart out, then mounted it on a spear as a warning to others?"

"Something like that," the man squeaked.

"The only reason that's not happening right now is because my husband has asked me not to get too worked up. So I tell you what's going to happen. Your second in command..." This discussion had been taking place in one of Ares smaller temples on the outskirts of Greece. There were a couple of priests and several of the warlord's subbordinates in attendants. Now one of those soldiers straightened up alertly. He'd narrowly avoided being court martialed and arrow-shot for questioning the move that had brought his superior to this point. "...is hereby given control of all that you formerly had."

"His wife, too?" asked the subordinate.

Ares didn't look around. "If she doesn't mind."

"-I- mind. She's a cross between an Amazon and a harpy."

"Then everything but his wife. You..." he shook the man again, "are being sent to Kakakatos."

"I've never heard of it," said the warlord.

"Exactly. Once there you have complete charge of the larger herd in the area."

"Don't you mean 'horde'?"

"Are you correcting me?"

"NO SIR!"

"I meant herd--as in swine. You'll care for them for a full year. At the end of that time if the herd is in good shape and has increased, you'll be allowed back into military service, as a rank-and-file warrior." He let the man drop. "If the herd ISN'T in good shape..." Ares cracked his knuckles. "I'll have had time to recover from having this kid by then."

*FLASH*

The former second-in-command looked at the former third-in-command. "You're my second." He pointed at their erstwhile leader. "Get him on his way. He can have one of the company jackasses. Not one of the good ones, mind. Give him the one-eyed one."

The man swallowed. "The cranky one? The one who has a tendancy to bite chunks out of whatever he can get close to?"

"That's the one. Oh, and make sure you get his armor--he won't be needing it. I'm going to be consulting with out scouts and spies."


*FLASH*

Ares dropped onto the sofa beside Joxer. Before Joxer could say anything Ares said, "Just a second," got up, and left the room. Joxer smiled. He wasn't able to hear the hiss of urine into a chamberpot, but he knew it was happening. A minute later Ares re-entered the room and sat again, lacing his hands under the swell of his belly. "These kids are going to be Titans."

Joxer tried not to laugh. "It just seems that way. Though I have to admit, you have two more months to go, and you're as big as I was right at the end."

"Thank you." Ares looked around the room. "Where's our first contribution to our descendants?"

"Well... He WAS in the garden. Then Bliss came by. A little later I heard a lot of yelling coming from the kitchen, and a very pissed off cook came and told me that we wouldn't be having tipsy trifle for dessert tonight unless Accord and Bliss couldn't finish it all."

Ares smiled. "They're together? Good."

"Well, someone has certainly changed their tune."

"It may take awhile for some things to get through, but they do eventually." He sighed, rubbing his belly.

Joxer put down his scroll and patted his lap. "Head here." Ares happily turned on the sofa, lifting his feet up onto sofa and laying his head in Joxer's lap. Joxer started massaging Ares' temples. "I'm glad you're okay with this. In laws can be stressful even if you start out amicably. I know that things went a lot easier with Hera and Zeus than I had any right to expect, but still... I'm surprised I didn't go through our first year of marriage with a screaming case of hives."

"Mm. You really think it's going to go that far?"

"How far?"

"In laws far."

"You can never tell--but--maybe." Ares chuckled. "What?"

"It's going to drive the bards crazy. I can hear it now." He held up his hands, as if framing words. "'And then Accord and Bliss were joined.' 'Wait a minute--isn't Cupid Bliss' dad?' 'Yes.' 'And isn't Ares Cupid's dad?' 'Right again.' 'And isn't Ares ALSO Accord's dad?' 'Yes.' 'So isn't that a little...'"

Joxer held up his hands, too. "'Are you going to be the one to ask them?'"

They both had a good laugh, then Ares hauled himself to his feet with a grunt. "I think I'll go see if they left any of that trifle. I've got a craving for something sweet."

"Shock, shock."

Ares kissed Joxer on the forehead. "Thanks for not suggesting I have an apple instead."

"The cook put peaches and raspberries in the trifle. You'll be getting healthy stuff."

"I'll still eat it."

"If there's any left."

"Oh, come on. I've seen the size of the bowl they use to make trifle. Surely even Bliss and Accord combined couldn't finish all of it." He left.

Joxer smiled nostalgically, murmuring, "They might not EAT it all, but if you remember our first anniversary, there are other uses for pudding..."

A Month Later

Joxer half awoke as Ares got out of bed. He'd gotten used to the God of War having to get out of bed for anything up to a half dozen times a night to use the chamber pot. If he wanted to he probably could have slept through it by now, but he'd made a conscious decision not to. He didn't want Ares, in his condition, wandering around in the dark, not even in their own home.

Ares was gone longer than usual. When he returned Joxer was fully awake and a little worried. "I was afraid you got stuck, or something." Ares sat on the bed, not climbing back under the sheets. "What's wrong?"

Ares was silent another moment, then said, "Probably nothing. He IS an adult now, so..."

"Did you walk in on Accord jerking off in the bathing chamber? He ought to know enough to lock the door by now."

"No, not that. I think he learned his lesson after that time Impetua walked in on him when he was fourteen. The point is that he wasn't THERE for me to walk in on. I stopped to take a quick peek in his room..."

"Ares."

"I know, I know." He rubbed his belly. "I can't help it. Hell, lately I've had to resist the urge to tell Cupid to stand still so I can straighten his feathers and comb his hair. I don't understand it. I wasn't like this when Dite was expecting him, or you were carrying Accord. This gives it a whole new perspective. Anyway, he wasn't in his room. I did a quick tour, and he isn't anywhere in the building, or out in the garden. He's left the premisis."

"You're sure he left under his own power?"

This was a serious question. There were people and entities out there who would love to get control of a god, and young gods were more vulnerable, therefor greater targets. "Yes, there wasn't any trace of negative energy. There WAS a divine trace in his room, but I couldn't identify it. I suppose it must have been Bliss. I can't think of anyone else who'd be likely to be in Accord's room, and want to hide the fact." He was quiet for a moment more, then reached for his boots.

Joxer grabbed his arm. "No, Ar."

"But Joxer, we have no idea where he is."

"He's an adult now--those times are going to happen. You said yourself that there was no hint of aggression in the room. And I know the types of wards you've had set up around this place. Demeter has to get special dispensation to come around when she's pissed off about Hades because her mood is so confrontational." Joxer stroked Ares' arm. "If he isn't back by tomorrow we'll mount a hunt, but I don't think we have to worry. He's just out... being a young man." Joxer smiled. "Even I snuck out a few times, so don't try to tell me that you never did." Joxer kissed him. "Go to sleep. Even if you HAVE given up most of your duties, you still need your rest."


Bliss came into the bedroom the next day, asking for Joxer to braid his hair. He wanted to look particularly nice, because he had something unspecified, but important, planned.

Ares had felt a huge wash of relief when he'd seen that Accord was alive and unharmed. He'd told himself that he wasn't going to say anything about the previous night. He did. That's what the man told himself. However... He found himself saying, "...I had to get up last night for the usual reason--damn, the chamber pots are getting a workout--and you weren't in your bed. You weren't anywhere in the building, either. Son, I've come to terms with you and Bliss being interested in each other, but sneaking out..."

It had come dangerously close to a family row. Accord was understandably indignant that his father had been 'checking up' on him. He'd told them in no uncertain terms that what he did with Bliss was HIS business, and that he HADN'T sneaked out to be with Bliss. He'd been out on something relating to Ares.

Ares had deflated a little and apologized, and Accord had understood, marking it down to Ares being 'broody'. Then he'd explained about his little trip to Earth. Accord had been worried about Ares. He'd figured out that pregnancy and giving birth could be dangerous, and now his father was facing that. When he was eight Accord had deduced from the careful way everyone spoke about the time around his birth that there was something they didn't want him to know. Naturally that made him even more curious. He's snuck into the Halls of Time and viewed his own birth. What he'd seen had horrified him. His father Joxer had come close to dying, bringing him into the world. His father Ares had almost gone insane with worry and grief. Everything had come out right in the end, but...

He wanted to understand everything he could about having babies. What was it that drove people to that sort of risk? He wanted to SEE an actual birth. The unknown usually isn't quite as frightening once it's no longer unknown.

Accord explained how he'd gone about it, with Strife's help. Ares covered his eyes and shook his head when Accord talked about dressing up like a girl. He assured Ares that he hadn't gone the whole route. He'd refused make up--"Because I was supposed to be a respectable girl in a responsible profession. Wouldn't have been right, ya know?"

There was a little more discussion, and it was determined that Accord was feeling easier now--not so worried. If it made his son more comfortable with what was happening, then Ares considered his own upset to have been compensated.

By the time that was sorted out, Joxer had fixed Accord's hair into a beautiful braid. He tied it simply with a leather thong, forgoing the usual bow. From now on if Accord wanted anything like that, he'd say so. Joxer was going to try to keep from pushing childish things on him simply because that was how it had always been.

Accord hugged them both, said good-bye, and left. Joxer went over and embraced Ares, who was looking a little melancholly. "What's wrong?"

"He really is grown up, isn't he?"

"He really is." They were silent for a moment, then Joxer said mischieviously, "He was taking a lot of care with his looks. I wonder where he's going, and why he needs the garden to himself."

Ares gave him a disbelieving look, then smiled. "Oh, riiiight. It's called a rhetorical question because I'm supposed to already know the answer, isn't it?" He leaned his head against Joxer's shoulder. "If this goes as far as it might, who's coloring do you think the kids would get--Accord's, or Bliss'?"



Chapter Fifteen

Accord shrugged on his vest, then stamped his foot the last fraction of an inch into his boot. He considered going and asking Joxer to braid his hair again, then paused. Smiling, he pulled it into a simple tail, thinking, *I believe I'll see how Bliss would feel about braiding it for me. He knows how. He used to do it for Imp after Scribe let her see that Star Wars movie, and she started wanting the teeny, skinny braid.* As he left his room he thought, *Of course instead of a little one in front she ended up with dozens of them all over her head. She looked like a little Medusa. At least I THINK she did, since I've never actually SEEN a Medusa--thank Zeus.* He chuckled as he walked down the hall. *Boy, Aphrodite looked like she's swallowed a fork when she saw her.*

He was coming near his parents' room now, and he saw Joxer standing in the hall outside their door. He slowed, frowing. Neither of his fathers usually just loitered around in the hall. Joxer was leaning back against the wall, arms crossed, head cocked toward the door, obviously listening. Accord hadn't been paying attention to the noises, but now he did. The voice floating out from the bedroom was obviously that of his other father--Ares. He was swearing a blue streak.

As he approached, Joxer held a finger to his lips in a shushing gesture. He stopped and whispered, "What's going on? Why is Dad scorching the air this time?"

Joxer whispered, "He's trying to get out of bed, and not having any notable success."

Ares voice rose in a particularly salty turn of phrase. "Aren't you going to go in and help him up?"

"Of course I am, but not till he ASKS to be helped. The last time I tried to help him up from anything he waved me away so sharply that if his hand had made contact it would have slapped me across the room. Ace has TOLD him not to strain trying to get up and down, but you know how stubborn he is. Well, he can just lay there until he admits that he needs some help."

They both listened for another moment, then Accord whispered, "It HAS occured to you that he might be willing to lay there till he has the kids?"

"I'm hoping it doesn't come to that, but he's perfectly capable of thinking himself up food and a chamberpot if he needs it." He smiled, and wiggled his eyebrows. "Of course tehre are SOME instances where it's a bit more difficult to use the chamberpot while lying down. Now, Scribe has told me about these things in the future called 'bedpans'..."

"I love you but dag, you're gross sometimes, Dad."

"Son, when you're dealing with the physical aspects of pregnancy, being able to handle a few crudities is a matter of survival."

"JOXER! DAMN IT TO TARTARUS, GET IN HERE AND HAUL MY FAT ASS OFF THIS BED!" Ares might have been pregnant, but he could still manage a very respectable roar.

"Coming, dear," called Joxer. He glanced at Accord. "Have a nice time with Bliss."

"How do you know that's where I was going?" asked Accord. Joxer gave him a look. "Right. I'm so obvious."

"Some things aren't easy to keep under wraps." Joxer went into the bedroom as Accord continued on down the hall. Ares had managed to turn so that his legs dangled over the edge of the mattress, but there was no way that he could sit up with the mound of his belly in the way. "You know, you're going to have to stop doing that. If your butt ever slides, you'll fall, and that could be dangerous."

"I know, I know."

Joxer grabbed both of Ares hands, braced his feet against Ares' feet so that he wouldn't slip, and hauled--but carefully. Ares arose slowly... majestically. When he was finally upright he blew out a breath, and Joxer patted him. "Remember what Ace told you about that. You need to BREATHE, Ar. Hold your breath, and you strain. Strain, and the babies might go 'hey, is it time?'"

Ares put a hand at the small of his back, wincing. "I swear, Joxer, I don't know how you did it."

"It's worse for you. You're carrying more."

"Still, what you must have gone through..." He hugged Joxer, somehow managing a close embrace around his belly, and kissed him.

"I like it," said Joxer. "But was it for anything in particular?"

"It was because you must really love me to have gone through this to have our child."

Joxer smiled at him. "Give yourself some of that credit. Much as I love Accord, let's face it--he was an accident. But these..." Joxer caressed Ares' belly. "You went out LOOKING for these kids."

Ares grunted, and smiled grimly. "Yeah. It's a good thing I don't plan on using the martyr gambit with them."

Joxer slipped an arm around Ares' shoulders as they headed for the breakfast table. "Just remember: twins--guilting them over what you're now enduring is PERFECTLY acceptable. Man, you should have heard my Mom sometimes..."

"Joxer? Your Mom was a bitch."

"Well... yeah. That doesn't mean she wasn't DAMN uncomfortable."

"No more kids for at least a few decades, huh? Give us both a chance to rest, recuperate, and enjoy the ones we have." He sighed. "Okay, let's go see Apollo."

"Before you have breakfast? I don't think so." Ares rolled his eyes. He held out his hand, and something appeared on his palm. "What's that?"

"Scribe told me about it. It's called a 'sandwich'." Ares peeled up the top slice of bread to show Joxer what was inside. "Egg, ham, cheese, and bread. When we get there I'll drink a glass of milk and eat a banana. You can't say that isn't a good breakfast."

"It'd be better for your digestion if you sat down and took your time."

"Joxer, we're going to discuss how I can deliver these babies. My digestion is going to be screwed, no matter what."


Apollo's priest was more than happy to bring Ares a glass of milk and a banana. Joxer didn't really need anything, but he politely accepted a glass of wine and some cookies. For a long time he'd refused such little courtesies, not wanting to cause any bother, till Ares asked him if he realized that by turning away these freely offered gestures of affection and respect he was insulting the mortals.

Apollo finished checking on the few patients he had at his temple, then went to greet his visitors. He gave Ares a quick check, nodding in satisfaction. "You're so healthy that it's almost disgustingly earthy. Put your feet up on that stool." As Joxer helped Ares prop his feet up, Apollo settled on the sofa beside him. "Okay, we can't wait any longer to decide how you're going to deliver the babies. You only have between two and three weeks left, and..." he smiled at Joxer, "we all know that even with me it's just an educated guess. First thing, we COULD do a surgical extraction, like we did with Joxer. I don't like that, though. We did it for Joxer because there was no way to slow down or stop the labor, and I was afraid that a strain was being put on the baby. But it's never a good thing to slice someone's abdomen open, so I want some other way of doing it."

"How about the way Strife did it?" said Joxer.

"I don't think that would be feasible, since we're talking about a multiple birth. Impetua had to really push to get out, and I'd be worried about the second baby."

Ares lowered his glass of milk and glared at Apollo. "You're not going to suggest the other natural passage, are you?"

"Please. I'm not that gross. Besides, no matter how well you clean, I just wouldn't be comfortable with the risk of infection."

"Well, I'm stumped," said Joxer. "If it isn't through an incision, through the bellybutton, or... uh... How else could it be done?"

"Ares," said Apollo, "You aren't going to like this. I want you to keep repeating to yourself--'for the sake of my children'."

Ares looked at Joxer. "I don't like the sound of this. Okay. 'For the sake of my children'--what?"

"I've been working with Gaia. You know how many creatures of the lower order are both male and female--like worms? And Joxer, with all your gardening I'm sure that you know that flowers have both male and female reproductive parts."

"I'm not sure I like the direction this conversation is turning," said Ares.

"Just shut up and let me explain this, please. I thought that the best way to deliver babies would be in the way that was originally provided."

"Since I don't have a vagina," said Ares heavily, "that would be a problem."

"This is going to take forever if you keep interrupting me. Okay, we know that there's a fairly easy way to provide female bits--witness Hermaphroditus. However that's permanent, and I was sure you wouldn't want that."

"No joke."

Apollo ignored the interruption and kept talking. "The object was to figure out a way to provide an exit for the babies that could be removed, or healed, or whatever afterward. I discussed things with Gaia--since she's the one who invented flowers, she'll know more about it than anyone else. She took a great interest in this project, we've worked together..." he smiled, "and I'm very pleased with the results."

He waited. Joxer put his arm around Ares' shoulders. "Babe?"

Ares sighed. "Go on."

"For the past five or six months she's been breeding and cross- breeding plants and flowers, and she's finally come up with a completely unique flower. She calls it the Transitive Hermaphroditus." Apollo materialized a small scroll and unrolled it, showing it to Joxer and Ares. It was a delicately colored picture of a feathery looking flower. It was lavender, with pink tinting along the ruffled edges of the petals.

"Oh, it's pretty!" said Joxer. "I need to get her to let me have some seeds. I'd love to have a patch of those in our garden."

"Not gonna happen, Joxer," said Apollo, rolling the parchment up again. "She created this plant for one reason, and one reason only. Once it's accomplished it's appointed task she's going to destroy every example of it, every seed, every petal, every note she made about the creation process. She said that she might have produced it naturally, but it does things that Nature never intended, and the potential for abuse is too great. She's only doing this because there's more than one baby involved." He smiled. "She said that every other male that gets pregnant can just deal with getting an outie bellybutton."

"What do we do with this plant?" asked Joxer. "Is Ares going to have to eat them, or rub them on his tummy, or what?"

"Nothing with the flowers themselves. In fact, we don't want anyone handling them without protection, and those who DO handle them need to do so as little as possible. I took over after she came up with the plant, and I've concocted an ointment. The ointment is rubbed carefully on one small section of the pregnant male's abdoment, several times a day. Over a period of time the muscles shift. Finally there's what looks like a seam just beneath a thin skin. Now, once it appears you have to be very, very careful till it's time for the birth. In fact, I think I'll insist on bed rest. Nature tells the baby 'time to go', and they'll start trying to make their way out, instinctively going for the most natural method of escape. What looks like a seam is actually a slit, closed by a thin skin, and the baby will easily push her way through. Voila."

"It can't be that simple," said Ares.

"It's hardly simple," said Apollo. "A lot of work went into this."

"But how do you know it's going to work?" asked Joxer. "You haven't tried it on anyone else."

"Oh, yes I have. I wouldn't suggest this if I hadn't experimented." He waved his hand, and a bell chimed. A priest hurried in, and he said, "Ask Goddess Scribe to bring the surprise." The man bowed and left.

Ares groaned. "Scribe?"

"Don't start," said Joxer. "She's been very good to you, keeping you supplied with future junk food. Where else would you have gotten Cheetos and Mallomars?"

"I know, I know. But last time she saw me she sang some song called 'Havin' My Baby'."

Scribe came in. She had a large, covered wicker basket cradled in her arms, and she was grinning. "Hello, papas. How's the future offspring?"

"Kicking like a member of the chorus in one of Jayce's productions," said Ares.

"Some people would say that indicated a boy," she said. *peep* Ares stared at the basket. She said nothing, only smiling. *chirp* *peep*

"Lovebirds or chickens?" said Ares.

Joxer rolled his eyes. "Kittens, Ar. The peeps are the babies, and the chirp is the mother talking to them."

"Correctamundo," said Scribe. She flipped open the lid and bent down, showing the basket interior to the two men. A very small, silky black cat, sprawled on her side, blinked up at them sleepily. Two fluffy kittens, looking like all fur and round butts and heads, were cuddled at her side. "Meet Mamacita, Fudge, and Coco."

"Cute," said Ares, reaching in to tickle the mother cat under the chin. He was rewarded with a shrill purr. "But what's this got to do with anything."

"Joxer, hold this." Scribe settled the basket in Joxer's arms. "Now, look at this." She gently pushed Mamacita's leg to the side and brushed at the soft fur on her belly.

Ares bend forward, and scowled. "A scar. What happened to this cat?"

"It's not a scar," said Apollo. "Well, not exactly. You see, Mamacita had a birth defect--a slight malformation of the hips that made it very dangerous for her to get pregnant. If she tried to give birth in the normal way, she'd probably die."

"I thought I had her on the 'no kitties' potion," said Scribe, "but..." She shrugged. "You know cats. I was so upset when I realized she was preggers. I just knew I was going to lose both her and the babies."

"I'll say," said Apollo. "I found her bawling her eyes out. When she explained what had happened I knew that this was a perfect chance to test the new birth method." He reached in and scratched Mamacita behind the ears. "We used the ointment on her the last couple of weeks of her pregnancy, and the opening developed, just as I'd predicted. When her time came, the kittens popped out of the created opening, as neat as you please."

Ares bent down and studied the faint pink line more closely. Mamacita started to groom his hair. Ares gave the cat a wry look. "Thank you." *meow* He sat back up. "You're SURE that it will close up and disappear?"

"She gave birth three days ago," said Apollo, "and as you can see, she's almost completely healed up. I expect every trace to disappear eventually, and mother and babies doing fine. If you absolutely won't agree to this I can take the babies with a knife, but I have to tell you, Ares--I don't want to. No matter how skillful I am, no matter how smoothly the operation goes, it would still be a trauma for both you, and the babies. I watched this birth, and as births go it was smooth, and easy on the mother and infants."

Ares was silent for a momen. Then he reached out and ran a fingertip over the faintly seen line on the cat's belly. The cat licked his hand. "It doesn't hurt her, does it?"

"I'm pretty sure that the discomfort passed more quickly than it does after most natural births."

Ares thought some more. "Okay."

Apollo almost wilted in relief. Scribe gave Ares the thumbs up sign. "No disrespect to Eris, but you're going to be the toughest mother on record." She grinned as she picked up the basket. "And you can interpret that any way you please. Now, Mamacita, let's go see about getting you some nice, oily fish. Her needs lots and lots of protien to feed her babies, yes her does," she crooned as she walked out.

Apollo stood up. "I'll go get the ointment, and a scroll with detailed instructions on it's use. You're going to have to be very conscientious about this. Remember, there's no telling when the babies will decide it's time, and we want to be ready."

After he left, Ares looked at Joxer and said, "You DO realize that you're not going to see me naked again till after the children are born?"

"Oh, yeah? Who's going to rub that ointment on your tummy, then? You darn sure aren't going to be able to reach far enough to do it efficiently." He cut his eyes at Ares and said casually. "Though I suppose Strife would be happy to help you with..."

"Don't even THINK that! Tartarus, I hope Apollo doesn't let this slip to anyone else, because I'll never..."

*FLASH*

Strife appeared, created a chair, then flopped in it comfortably. He grinned at Ares and said, "So, did 'Pol tell ya that yer gonna have a chance ta sing 'I've Looked At Love From Both Sides Now'?"

Joxer tried to fight down a snicker as Ares said grimly, "If he's lucky, I'll have forgotten that I want to kill him by the time I'm capable of physical exertion again."


TBC




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