Hercules & Xena
fan fiction by Vyola
This is dedicated to people who have kept me up to all hours, eagerly and happily feeding my A/J kink -- Athea, Miriam, Dyevka, Rose, Sidewinder, and REM. Some of you I've had the opportunity of meeting and some I only know through your stories. Thank you all for the pleasure you've given me.

And then there's Ellie, who would be very happy if I never e-mail her with an HTML problem again....

Casus Belli

Joxer licked the last juices from the roast chicken off his fingers and gazed around contentedly. A cheery fire illuminated the clearing, flickering on the faces of his companions. This was as good as life got; his stomach was full, he was warm and uninjured and, best of all, he'd single-handedly saved the village of Matapas from a flock of harpies attacking on the south and a renegade warlord's army attacking on the north....

Well, so maybe he'd just been straggling along behind Xena and Gabrielle when they got word of the village's plight. So maybe Hercules and Iolaus had shown up to lend a hand here and there. But Joxer knew that his own contribution -- running back and forth from one side of the village to the other, carrying messages -- had been the key to the other warriors' success. Everyone said so. Even Xena had been heard to mutter grudgingly that 'at least he hadn't got lost on the way', which Joxer figured was her way of congratulating him. She probably didn't want all the praise to go to his head.

Now the fire was growing low as they made ready for the night, Gabby singing softly of the day's battle over the music of the frogs and crickets. Joxer caught the barely veiled invitation in Iolaus' eyes as the hunter smiled up at Hercules. He sighed; traveling with Xena and Gabby might have accustomed him to the secret language lovers shared but familiarity didn't lessen the loneliness he felt when he saw it. The demigod and his companion were setting their bedrolls a discrete distance from the fire, just as the warrior princess and the bard would, and Joxer would be alone.

As always.

He sighed and turned to plump his pack into some semblance of a pillow. A blue-white flash lit the clearing around him as a voice behind him said, "Don't worry. You won't be sleeping alone tonight."

Joxer tried to spin around and stand up at the same time, a move that left him in a sprawl on his stomach, staring at a pair of black leather boots. His gaze traveled up, past leather-encased calves to leather-encased knees to leather-encased thighs to --

He gulped and dragged his eyes higher, past a black leather vest molding itself around a broad chest and wide shoulders, to where dark hair and dark eyes and a dark sneer prompted his recollection.

"Um, Ares?" Okay, maybe it came out a little strained but it was not a squeak, Joxer assured himself.

His guess was validated by the cries of his friends, who emerged in the clearing around the fire at a dead run, chakrams and daggers and staffs in hand.

"Ares. What do you want?" Xena asked, her voice calm and cold.

"No 'Hello, Ares. Nice to see you'?" The God of War spread his arms wide in mock-puzzlement.

"Hello, Ares. Never nice to see you. What do you want?" Hercules crossed his arms, his biceps flexing.

"Why, I'm here to congratulate you warriors on the fine job you did today. Matapas can sleep soundly knowing that such intrepid heroes are nearby."

Joxer shuddered at the dulcet tones above him. Ares, Xena, Hercules, a very small clearing and Joxer underfoot -- he was no Delphic oracle but right now he could see his future and it wasn't pretty. Now would be a good time to get clear of the field of combat he just knew was about to develop.

He started to creep out of the way when the sole of a boot came down squarely on his back, pushing the breath out of his lungs and stopping him cold.

"Not so fast, hero," that sweet voice continued. "I told you I have plans for you."

"Joxer! Are you okay?"

"Let him go, Ares!"

"He has nothing to do with you, Ares."

"Hang on, Joxer."

It was sort of nice to hear the concern in everybody's voices, Joxer thought distractedly. But really, he was used to being knocked down in the dust and who needed to breathe anyway? Belatedly, he realized that the weight on his back was shifting, allowing him to draw in heaving gasps of air. His lightheadedness increased as Ares reached down and lifted him up by the scruff of his neck, holding Joxer upright as bits of dirt and leaves fell from his clothes.

Joxer shook his head and sneaked a peek at the god holding him so casually. Oh, mistake, he thought hastily. Somehow, Ares looked even bigger when he stood right next to him than when he had been sprawled at his feet. Must be a god thing, Joxer decided.

"Put Joxer down. You want to fight, you fight me." The words came from Xena and Hercules simultaneously; they glanced at each other, shrugged, then turned back to Ares.

"I don't want to fight anyone tonight. Like I said, I'm here to congratulate the victorious warriors. It's a little perk of being the God of War. And I've chosen this mighty hero as the lucky recipient of my favors." Ares bestowed a truly breathtaking smile on Joxer, who duly found himself short of breath again. It was becoming a familiar sensation around the god.

"Favors?" Gabby asked, bemused.

"Does he mean what I think he means?" Iolaus turned to Hercules. "I mean...."

"I mean exactly what you think I mean," Ares answered before his half-brother could say anything. "And you should be thanking me for not breaking up one of you happy couples when I made my choice."

Joxer was relieved to find that by stretching just a little, he could get his toes back on firm ground. No longer prey to the unnerving sensation of dangling helplessly in Ares' grasp, he decided that it was time to speak for himself. No self-respecting warrior would stay silent in these circumstances.

"Um, don't I get a say in this?" Joxer ventured. "After all --"

"Talking is not what I have in mind for that mouth, Joxer." Ares released his hold on Joxer's neck, dropping his weight heavily back on his feet. The god slid a finger along Joxer's jaw, pushing his mouth closed, then laid a finger against his lips. "Shhhh."

Shivers ran down Joxer's neck at Ares' touch. The finger at his lips burned, making him aware of every pulse in his body. Heat spread out and pooled in his groin. Silent. He could do silent.

"If you hurt him --" Gabby began furiously. Xena laid a warning hand on her arm, holding the bard back.

"I'll tell you what. You want him back so bad, you come and get him. Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy myself." Ares smiled, showing all his teeth. "I do hope I haven't spoiled your cozy little evening."

A blue-white flash blinded them for a moment. When the after-image faded, they were alone in the clearing. Joxer's travel pack lay abandoned by the fire, his absurd helmet beside it.

Finally Iolaus broke the stunned silence, disbelief and something close to awe in his voice.

"Ares and Joxer?"

Joxer had sometimes wondered what it was like to be a god, to be immortal and beautiful and powerful and come and go in the blink of an eye.

One question answered.

It was worse than being seasick.

One second he was standing next to Ares in a forest clearing, surrounded by Xena, Gabby, Hercules and Iolaus. The next minute he was in an unadorned marble hall, no trees or friends in sight.

And the God of War was still standing next to him.

Maybe this was one of those wild dreams he sometimes had, like the one where he and Gabby and Xena spent the day in a barn --

Ares gave a shout of delighted laughter. "You've got quite the imagination, hero. This is going to be even better than I thought." He gestured with one hand and torches flared to life on the walls.

"You can read my mind?" Not good, not good, Joxer chanted to himself. His stomach was unhappy, his eyes were starting to cross from trying to focus on the unyielding black on black decorating scheme, and his mind was being read by a god with lascivious intent.

The god in question smiled and reached out a hand. A low marble table -- black, Joxer noted -- materialized, the silver chalice upon it seeming to fit itself to Ares' hand even as he closed his fingers around it.

"Sometimes. Some mortals. It depends more on the thought than the mortal."

"You mean, like prayers? Are those easy to hear?" Joxer couldn't restrain his curiosity, even in this situation. How often did you get answers from a god?

The god in question took a long draught from the chalice then offered it to Joxer. "The stronger and closer a thought is, the easier it is to hear. Prayers and rituals focus the thoughts, make them stronger, aim them specifically at the gods."

"Kind of like a bow and arrow, I guess." Joxer noticed that the chalice was full as he took it from Ares. Mentally shrugging his shoulders, he tried to take a sip but his hands were shaking and he had to gulp at the liquid to keep from spilling. He tasted the sweetness of the wine and --

-- a hot summer day, the sun beating down, grapes dangling heavy on the vine, each green globe full to bursting with juice, a dull sheen of dust on the dark leaves, rich dirt warming in the sun --

-- he heard his voice continue. "You could just throw the arrow but your aim wouldn't be very good and it wouldn't go very far. Use a bow and suddenly you can hit your target."

"A philosopher and a warrior. The pillow talk should prove ... exhilarating." Ares' voice suddenly deepened. "Enough chit chat. Come here, Joxer."

Joxer put the chalice down on the table. His hands weren't shaking anymore. Just before the table vanished to whence it came, he saw that the chalice was full.

"Soooo, Hercules," Xena drawled, "know any shortcuts to the Halls of War?"

"Head for Sparta and hang a left at the training field."

"What's in Sparta, Herc?"

Gabby turned to Iolaus. "Ares' main temple. It's where he keeps the sword that symbolizes his godhood."

The hunter followed the thought. "So there's bound to be a pathway to the Halls of War somewhere in the temple."

"Somewhere," Xena echoed, returning her chakram to her belt and reaching down to pick up Joxer's helmet. "And if there isn't, we'll take the temple apart pillar by pillar until we make one."

Standing within Ares' embrace was like standing atop a hill in a summer storm, energy swirling around him, flowing through him. Joxer leaned back against the strong arms and looked into Ares' dark eyes. They were all he could see as the god pulled him near and captured his mouth.

Ares' kiss was headier than the wine. A hot, seeking tongue parted Joxer's lips and swept inside. Any thoughts of resistance were conquered long before he could begin to martial them. Ares explored every inch of his mouth, caressing the soft inner walls, slicking over his teeth, sucking on his lower lip until Joxer felt like an over-ripe plum.

As his knees threatened to buckle, Joxer clutched at Ares' shoulders. Under his palms the leather vest was soft and supple, warm from the body it covered. He shuddered and wrenched his mouth from Ares', pressing his face against the god's neck where it met his shoulders. Every breath Ares took vibrated though Joxer's chest. The scent of War enveloped him, leather and steel, sweat and musk, a sharp tang like copper and the richness of fresh-tilled earth.

Dizzy, he managed to whisper, "Why me? You said it yourself, the God of War can pick anybody. So why me?"

"Why not you?" came the reply. "You've prayed to me all your life and you've never stopped striving to be a warrior. Even when you fought against me, you still fought. You never surrender, never falter. That kind of tenacity is very attractive."

Ares' voice turned teasing as one of his hands ran down Joxer's back to cup his hip. "And, when you're not wearing that miserable excuse for armor, you're very attractive, too."

Joxer shivered as Ares' leather brushed against suddenly bare skin, his pants and shirt instantly banished by the caress. The next moment, he was falling backwards, bracing in anticipation of hitting the cold marble --

-- sinking into softness, Ares covering the length of his body as he landed on a suddenly-there bed. Black sheets of Chin silk enveloped them as the gauzy black hangings softened the torchlight to a dull glow.

This was getting ridiculous. For every step they took toward Sparta they took two back or to the side. Landslides and family feuds delayed them in Kotronas; driving rain, floods and children down wells kept them in Yithion. A snowstorm -- in high summer! -- stranded them in Skala.

Somebody up there didn't like them....

There were definite advantages to having a god as a lover, Joxer mused dazedly. Clothes vanished in the blink of an eye, the sheets were clean and nobody fumbled around looking for the vial of oil.

It was the last coherent thought he managed as he was engulfed in the maelstrom of sensation Ares created around him. The god arched his back, rubbing his leather-clad groin against Joxer's painfully erect cock.

"Please ... please," the hoarse whisper broke from his throat. Ares rewarded him with another of those deep kisses and Joxer felt the leather disappear and sweat-slick skin take its place.

Joxer moaned. Everywhere Ares touched him he burned, but the flames gave only pleasure. He ran his hands up and down Ares' back, trying to stroke every inch of flesh. His legs automatically widened, letting the god press even closer.

There was nothing but the cool silk under him and the warm body above him as he was turned to lie facedown on the bed, a pillow appearing just under his hips. Fire licked down his spine as he felt the brush of Ares' beard trail down his back. A sudden slickness in his ass proceeded the first probe of Ares' fingers.

"More?" Ares whispered as Joxer pushed back into his touch. "Are you ready for me, hero?"

It was sheep in Anavriti. Lots of sheep. Lots of lost sheep. Lots of lost, stupid sheep. In the midst of rounding up yet another stray flock, Iolaus discovered a hitherto-unknown wool allergy that manifested itself as a rash, which then prompted some indelicate scratching. It was a relief when the villagers threw them out for indecent exposure.

Mistras next, and the debacle thereafter known as 'Gabrielle's little problem with the fishmonger.' While she seemed to emerge from the day's events relatively unscarred, it is safe to say that the fish were traumatized for the rest of their unnaturally short lives.

On to Sparta....

"Now," Joxer pleaded, "I need you." Sure hands drew his hips up, guiding him to his knees. He chanced a glance over his shoulder and was transfixed by the sight of Ares preparing to take him.

The god knelt behind him, flushed skin burnished by the torches' glow. His head was thrown back and the long line of his body, from neck to chest to rampant cock, made the mortal catch his breath. Joxer's eyes closed and his head fell down into the sheets as Ares began a slow advance and retreat, barely entering him then pulling out, only to return a little deeper each time.

The emptiness inside him was filled, then left aching again, over and over, as Ares set a steady rhythm. Joxer tried to drop his hips and rub his own engorged flesh into the silk but a hard hand surrounded him and pulled him back against Ares. The friction was the sweetest kind of burn and Joxer pumped his length into it, fucking Ares' hand as the god fucked his ass.

All he could hear was the rasp of Ares' labored breath and the rush of his own blood. Every nerve convulsed, fire sweeping through him. He came in long spasms, clenching around Ares. A second, an eternity, later, Joxer felt the hot pulses of Ares' climax fill him.


"You know, Xena," Gabby murmured, pitching her voice so that only her friend could hear, "this whole rescue thing might be a little --"

"-- premature. Now don't get me wrong, Herc." Iolaus glanced over to make sure that the women were out of earshot. "I understand completely how you feel about Ares. He's treacherous, scheming --

"-- deceitful, untrustworthy --"

"-- and downright dangerous. But he is a god and a lot of people would be flattered by --"

"-- his attentions. And if you could look at him objectively, you'd have to admit that --"

"-- he is attractive. Uh, if you like --"

"-- that type, I mean. He's tall, he's dark, he's incredibly --"

"-- built with those great shoulders --"

"-- and those eyes. When he looks at you, really looks at you, deep into your eyes and his --"

"-- whole attention is focused on you and he starts talking to you in --"

"-- that voice --"

"-- and you can hear thousands of years of experience in every promise --"

"-- and you can't see anything except a god standing there --"

"-- wanting you --"

"-- and he's bigger than life --"

"-- and twice as natural --"

Two voices reached a crescendo.

"-- and he's wearing leather pants!"

Hercules and Xena shared a long glance across the heads of their chosen companions. Blonds. Can't live with 'em, can't leave 'em in a closet till needed. One more black mark against Ares' ledger.

Joxer slumped forward, Ares heavy across his back. Shuddering breaths wracked both their bodies as pulses finally steadied and slowed to a normal pace. He didn't have the strength to even begin asking the questions that crowded into his mind. He could feel his thoughts scattered about like arrows dumped from a quiver.

Ares slipped out of him and rolled to the side, drawing Joxer onto his back. "Let's see," the god murmured into his ear, "No, it's not always like that. Sometimes it's even better. Yes, we can do it again. No, I'm not disappointed, not at all. Yes, your friends are looking for you but they're not here yet. Yes, I want you again. No, not right now. You're too tired. Go to sleep. We'll talk when you wake up."

Joxer slept in Ares' warm embrace.

Oh, Sparta will long sing of the day those mighty heroes came to town. Hercules, mighty son of Zeus, who championed the lot of mortal man. Xena, warrior princess, whose flashing eyes and arcing chakram could stop an army cold. Iolaus, the great hunter, who faced danger with a smile on his lips. Gabrielle, the amazon bard who fought at Xena's side and told the tales of her triumphs.

Hercules, who was starting to look every one of his human years. Xena, who eyed every cloud suspiciously. Iolaus, who frankly had looked better. Gabrielle, who kept muttering to herself.

Wise Spartans got out of their way as they grimly climbed the stairs to Ares' temple.

Ares' black marble throne dominated the chamber, torchlight reflecting dully on its polished surfaces. An altar filled with offerings lay in front of it. Their footsteps echoed as they approached the dais.

"Where do you think the passageway is?" Iolaus whispered to Hercules.

Before the demigod could answer, Xena snapped. "Forget it. I'm sick and tired of being pushed around." She pulled the chakram from her belt and sent it sailing around the room, gouging deep furrows in each wall until it came to rest in her hand again.

"And if that doesn't get my brother's attention," Herc said, walking up to the altar where a brazier burned, "maybe this will." With that, he swept his arm across the altar, knocking the offerings atop it to the floor and snuffing the flame of the brazier.

"Nothing says 'honey, I'm home' like defacing a temple."


The throne was no longer empty. The God of War lounged there, an aura of replete smugness surrounding him.

Four tired, filthy, exasperated heroes demanded as one, "Where's Joxer?"

"Shhhh. Don't wake the baby." Ares gestured and a marble wall shimmered, becoming a translucent drapery. Behind it, on a vast bed, one white shoulder and a shock of dark hair were all that were visible beneath a mound of bedclothes.

The mound stirred and a head emerged, followed by a pale torso. Joxer sat up, stretching absently. He did not notice his audience until Gabby gasped, "Joxer!"

He clutched the sheet to his chest awkwardly, exclaiming, "Gabrielle!" His eyes widened as he took in the rest of the onlookers. "Um, hiya, Xena. Herc." He nodded to them. "Iolaus." Slowly, he looked at Ares. "Uh, good ... morning?" he ventured.

"Close enough, hero. Come on out."

Joxer wound the sheet around him in a makeshift toga and stepped past the drapes into the temple chamber.

"Over here."

Ares' terse order drew him to the god's side. He stood next to the throne, feeling the weight of all the eyes upon him. "So, uh, you guys got here fast."

Xena leveled a lethal glare at Ares. "We'd have been a lot faster if you hadn't set all those little obstacles in our path. You turned a three-day trip into a three-week one."

"Three weeks!" Joxer yelped, almost losing control of his toga. "I thought it was yesterday --"

Ares caught Joxer's flailing arms and gave him a little shake. "Hold still, you're slipping. There," he said, restoring the sheet to a more secure drape, "try to stay clothed in public, okay?"

"But, but -- three weeks?!"

The pair on the dais seemed oblivious to the stunned expressions on their witnesses. Gabby could make out something about time moving differently in the Halls of War and a promise to explain it all later before she was distracted by Iolaus' frantic whisper to Hercules.

"See! I told you he didn't need rescuing. Just look at 'em, Herc."

Hercules shook his head ruefully. "I hate to admit it but I think you're right."

"Wait a minute!" Xena began indignantly. "Ares kidnaps Joxer, makes us jump through hoops for three weeks, puts sheep in our way, and you want to just walk away?"

Gabby felt Iolaus twitch at the mention of sheep. "Look, Xena. I feel as protective of Joxer as you do. But I think it's obvious Ares didn't ... um, force him or anything. I mean, it's pretty clear that they both enjoyed themselves ...."

Her voice trailed away under the warrior's glare but she refused to look away. Finally, Xena turned to look at the throne, where Ares and Joxer were still absorbed in their conversation.

Ares was running one finger along Joxer's bare shoulder, clearly not paying attention to what the man was saying. Impatiently, Joxer batted the hand away. Xena waited for Ares to retaliate but instead saw the god smile indulgently. An involuntary shiver ran down her spine when Ares' low whisper reached her. "Oh, you'll pay for that, hero. Tonight."

Maybe Gabrielle was right. Maybe discretion was the better part of valor.

"C'mon, Xena," Gabby said, seeing the change in her friend's expression. "Didn't you tell me they had a great bath house in Sparta?"

"Sounds good to me," Iolaus said, leering at Hercules.

"Yeah. I'll be happy to get rid of this mud. And the smell of the sheep. And the fish." Hercules herded them out of the temple. "I think we can let Joxer's private life stay just that -- private."

Just before she began the long climb down the stairs, Xena looked back. Ares had Joxer pinned against the throne and seemed to be licking his way around Joxer's neck. Joxer had the blissful expression of a cat in sunlight.

She turned and ran down the steps to where Gabby waited for her, the men debating their tavern choices a few paces away.

Ares and Joxer. She almost felt sorry for Ares.

the end
22 October 1998

casus belli -- an event justifying a declaration of war (I never met a pun I couldn't beat into submission!)

garden gate
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