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War's Trinity: Birth

Chapter Text

Ares dropped to the floor of his temple, more exhausted than ever. It was not easy to be beaten by his bastard brother Hercules without really being able to fight back because of their father's orders. Zeus had long proclaimed his beloved son Hercules under his protection. Whoever touched the demi-god would be severely punished. Ares had more than once suffered recriminations from the god of gods after having crossed the hero's path. The god of war had learned how to face his half brother without causing any physical damage to him. But after a while Ares had to learn to voluntarily lose face otherwise Hercules would complain to their father and cause even more problems for him. As a result, Ares managed to appear weaker in Hercules' eyes. More so when he had to let the hero destroy his plans even when it was vital that a war be fought for the good of humanity.

Juggling between Zeu's orders on this or that war and his orders on the perpetual welfare of his beloved demi-god son was tiring at best …

Today Ares just had enough. His warriors were asking more and more questions about his failures against Hercules, Zeus was still punishing him for not doing his duty as a war god (even though Hercules was at fault for those failures). And Hercules was becoming in addition imbued with himself.

So the war god let himself fall to the ground, lying on the black stone and enjoying its coolness after the terrible heat of the battlefield. But before he had time to really relax Zeus's call came to him, more of an order than a request. Ares got up and arranged his clothes before appearing in his father's office.

Like every time he entered this room, the war god held his head high in a haughty manner. He raised an eyebrow of interest to what his father might want and tilted his head slightly to show respect to the god of gods. He had learned very young not to push his father's limits too far.

"Father?"

Zeus rose from his luxurious armchair and approached like a wolf stalking his prey. Before Ares could react his father's power threw him across the room to hit one of the walls with force. The god of war slipped to the ground, forsaking his mask of arrogance. Only his father had ever seen him so defeated as only the god of gods was ever able to put Ares lower than dirt.

"How dare you defy my orders?" Zeus said coldly.

Ares looked up emotionlessly at the other god, "I spared Hercules, as you ordered."

A new wave of power surrounded Ares and lifted him into the air, holding him prisoner in front of his father.

"You lost the war !" The king of gods exclaimed furiously. "The next harvest will not be enough to feed the entire population ! Your opponents were to die so you could conquer their lands and take their reserves ! Now I have to fix your mistakes and put everything back in order, you give me more work than you ever accomplish ! "

Ares narrowly refrained from reminding his father that it was Hercules' fault. If he spoke he would be punished more severely. The god of gods had all power over him. And Zeus did not like to be reminded that it was his orders to leave the demigod hero alone that was causing so much trouble.

Zeus could not fail in anything. The fault always went to another.

In a last attempt to find a solution Ares said: "Maybe if you found a mission to entrust to Hercules to keep him busy while ..." His father hit him. Not with his power but with his fists and all the strength of a god.

Ares coughed and spat blood. It had been a long time since Zeus had touched him even to punish him. One day he had decided to start using his energy to torture his son and had never stopped.

"If you're so incompetent that you beg for my help, then maybe you're not made for your job." The spark in Zeu's eyes frightened Ares more than anything his king had ever done up to this day. A terrifying glimpse of a dark and painful future.

A hand grasped Ares' throat leaving him little air to breathe. As Ares was a fighter and used to survive everything thrown at him he told himself it was nothing more than a bad time to pass. Yet this time was different, as he was unfortunately about to discover.

Zeus's power enveloped Ares slowly. And just as slowly the immense energy clung to Ares' god of war power, drawing it out of the body that sheltered it. Ares felt torn from the inside, as if his soul was being removed. It was not that far from te truth. He was born destined to be the god of war. His soul had been unique and the only one able to hold that power and not get lost in the madness that war fury provoked. Ares was the only soul in the world able to master this particular deity. Destiny had seen him and guided him to be born of the god of gods and become what he was today.

To take away his power was to kill him slowly. But Zeus did not care that he was hurting his own child, did not even think Ares was of any real use. Surely someone other than him could receive the gift of the god of war. A person more powerful, smarter, more helpful. Someone who would follow all of Zeus' orders without restriction.

And to avoid angering his wife, Hera mother of Ares, Zeus would send his son among the men oon Earth. As long as the boy lived Hera could not say anything. Because even as queen, she had no right to interfere with the king's decisions or even to react in any way. As long as Hera was married to him, Zeus had complete control of the goddess. He let her rage from time to time to release anger and avoid having to worry more about her. And then he could punish her because she often went after the same person: that being whom every god had been forbidden to touch. Hercules.

When the power finally left Ares's almost unconscious body, Zeus let him go, staring at him crashing to the ground and his head hitting the rock with a crack. Yes ... he was no longer a god now. His former power no longer protected him from the wounds he might receive. Zeus laughed. Such an incompetent person was of no use to him. One of his other children would be better able to wage wars.

Zeus turned his gaze to the door that had just opened with a crash. In the dorway were some of the major gods of his pantheon.

Hera watched in horror as her son collapsed at Zeus' feet. The only thing preventing her from crumbling at this sight was the arms of Hephaestus and his wife Aphrodite. The goddess of love had hidden her face in the queen's neck and Hera could feel the young woman tears on her bare skin. Ares's nephew, Strife, had eyes emptied of life. No more humor to hide eyes aged by an horror filled life. As his mother, Eris, had no more glimmer of madness to camouflage the real love she had for her brother Ares. But the worst of all at this moment was Cupid, son of Aphrodite and Ares. All his attention was fixed not on his wounded father but on the ball of energy that Zeus kept in the hollow of a hand. A glimmer of power that belonged only to Ares.

In this second, understanding filled the young god's mind. The force that the whole pantheon had felt shake Olympus and guided them here ... this force was the destruction of the god of war ... by the hand of Zeus.

Cupid then flew in a mad rage. The greedy hunger of blood with which he had been cursed and which all the gods prevented from reappearing by any means possible. The rage that could turn the god into a creature with nothing else in mind than complete annihilation of what had put him in that state. But it was too late. Because Cupid was reacting to his father's suffering. The little reason that remained in him constantly murmured Ares' name.

The young god threw himself at Zeus.

Zeus did not move a millimeter. His eyes full of disgust watched this thing with a god's power. Even there, Ares had failed. Having a perfect heir was a simple thing as seen when he himself had created Hercules. Although Hercules was not yet ready to take the power of the god of war, Zeus had brought him into existence for this purpose. He had wanted a son in every way better than the one Hera had given him.

The god of gods hit his grandson to push him away. The child's attacks had become more tiresome than disturbing.

Taking advantage of this carelessness, the creature Cupid had become stopped using physical strength in favor of the power of love's house residing inside of him. This second of inattention from Zeus allowed him to wrest the energy the king had stolen from Ares. Cupid grabbed the ball of power and threw it in the same movement towards his unconscious father. Zeus uttered a cry of disbelief.

In their corner, paralyzed by first the vision of Cupid's transformation and then that of the two gods in combat, the other gods could only bear witness. Hera tried to extricate herself from the arms holding her back when she saw her grandson's actions. Especially when the god of war's power was returned this way to Ares. It could not be good. Because even if the 'magic', for lack of any other word than power or energy, entered Ares' body in this way...

...while Zeus had burned everything that connected the soul of his son to war's power before tearing it away. There would be nothing left to tie the two separate parts of this precious person. Ares could not survive the restitution in his state. The power could not bind itself again to its other half, would even eventually destroy it.

It was too late...

Chapter Text

Pain. Void. Fear.

He was nothing but sensations. Nothing made any sense. Who he was, what had happened to him. There was nothing left. No memory.

In his suffering darkness what had been taken away from him returned. But even returned to his embrace, he was no longer complete. That half that was his, which was him, could not be totally returned to him. It was there but detached. So near and so far away. And nothing he did could bind him again and make him whole.

He got up, although the notion of moving was unknown to him. How was he moving? He was pain. All that came to him was that he could not stay here. 'Here' was full of evil and danger.

He did not know how to leave or what made him stay. Neither what he was and where he was. He was deaf to any other cacophony than that of his very soul. Soul? He ... he was a soul. He was...
blood, pain, terror, fight ... war. Yes, he was war. That's what he was. But what was war? What was his destiny? Destiny? Yes ... war had a reason to be. Make war? Shed blood ? Destroy? No, not quite. Yes a bit. War is useful even if he could not remember for what or who. Maybe he would be guided in his duty? He hoped. Even if hope was only a vague sensation to him.

Where to go if not here? War could not decide, so he tried to 'see'. But his eyes were blind. He could see nothing else than the stifling blackness. Yet at the crossroads of soul and power, at the crossroads of these two separate parts, there were glimmers. Vibrant lights. Red for some, white for others. The number of colors didn't matter as much as the fact that there was a link between the two parts of War's soul. A common point. These gleaming lights were destined for both halves. But war no longer knew how to use them or what they were. Murmurs so numerous that he did not understand anything coming to him. War stepped violently away from the raging lights. He did not want to have more than the one in him. He moved away from those lost, he was already lost enough. He avoided the pure and brilliant who begged ... who wanted ... the end of the war. That's what those murmurs were asking. But war did not want to end and did not know why he heard those who wanted him dead. None of these lights could help him.

What was the use of having them if they were worthless? But he recognized that they 'fed' him in a certain way. He existed for these creators of murmurs. For them he was war. But what was the point of war if some of them did not want him, as he could hear now?

War could not waste time on this. He needed a guide. Someone to show him his destiny.

There!
That murmur!

This beautiful glow so warm and inviting. A murmur that wanted him, called him, named him, prayed to him, blessed him. A murmur that spoke to him.

War assembled all that made it/him : the two parts of its being. And he homed in on this whisper to reach that one person who could guide him.

Chapter Text

Zeus could not believe his eyes. Instead of turning Ares' body into ashes, the power had entered him and made him stand up. In his amazement the god of gods remained unresponsive. A minute passed during which each god present was lost in the empty gaze of the god of war. Because the man had taken back the deity Zeus had tried to steal. And yet it was no longer the Ares they all knew. There was nothing in this man who was human. No visible emotion, no gesture after standing up. A statue of pure power.

Ares was nothing more than a body exuding an energy without equal. In this second Zeus realized what he had never wanted to see. It was not the deity of war who made a god of war. It was the very soul of Ares that made the god of war possible. Power was only power in the palm of a hand without the strength of what made Ares be 'Ares' ... his mind, his whole being made that simple power so much more important and vital to their lives.

Zeus understood too late. The damage had already been done. But he would always remember that the energy he had held for a moment in one hand was only half of what he could feel from his son Ares. A half which without the other part was worthless and which with it was dazzling.

Suddenly, Ares disappeared. A pure aura of white lightning raging in darkness surrounded him and carried him away. Never before that day had Ares had such an aura.

In the second following, several gods tried to follow their brother for fear of what he could do in his condition. But all came back to where they started. They could not find Ares. They no longer had the link with War that allowed them at all times to join the other god. This bond had been broken by Zeus' actions.

For his part, Cupid entered in a new rage when he saw the one who was for him more important than anything flying away. He wanted to jump on Zeus with the sole idea of shredding him but was trapped in a bubble of magic like no other. He had never seen it before, never felt anything like it. Although a part of him felt bound to this aura of power that surrounded him. He should have known this magic, this life breathed into every being ... At this thought he recovered a little of his humanity and rationality. Little by little he became Cupid again, the creature fading with its rage. The power that had stopped him seemed to rock him and he nearly fell asleep in the peaceful heat. He forced his eyes open and saw for the first time a being that he knew, as he had thought earlier, breathed a vital part into every living being in this world. His instinct shouted at him: Destiny. The young woman without a face, without appearance, a pure silhouette of white energy, walked towards him and released him from his magic. A hand came to caress the face of the young god and he felt the last of his rage be replaced by determination. He would find his father wherever he was. He would move heaven and earth to see him again. Cupid blinked at the voice that came next:

"Even if you're not the one to find him, you have a purpose now more precious than what this rage gave you. Maybe you'll be able to reach Ares ... It'll all depend on which way you take. Destiny might be unique, but it has many faces and many ways.There's more than one purpose in your lives, there is a multitude of them that you can not always reach.The most important thing is to take the road and to see if you can get there."

"Destiny ..." Cupid whispered.

A hiccup of surprise from the crowd of gods now in the room made him look around to the damage he had done in his anger. And although he blushed, he was proud to have returned to his father that part that had been torn off. He was not sure if he had done the right thing, but he had done what his instinct had asked of him.

The young god grumbled as he saw Zeus move forward. The god of gods stopped, his gaze haunted by the memory of Ares' true power.

"You finally saw, king of the gods." Said the voice of Destiny. "It will have taken you a long time to overcome all your desires for conquest and power ... all your ideas of control over the world ... Hercules was not born in this world to take the place of the god of war."

At these words all the gods turned to Zeus. Some with anger, some with indignation, and many with hatred. None of them really liked their half-brother hero. Hercules was arrogant. His head far too big of his ideas of a perfect world of which he was the only hero. But the world was not limited to his little life. And although none of the gods loves the blood and death that war created, they all knew how important it was to have it. Just as they had just seen that they could no longer ignore their brother because they hated his deity. Ares needed them. For the first time they could help him.

Amazingly, they all realized that it was a race against time, a fight to recover their brother god. They would engage in a war without blood or death. Or at least they hoped that no death would come out of this fight. They should never have ignored nor hated the god of war. Because basically they all had in them the fighting instincts that Ares mastered for the rest of the world. The god of war was in each of them.

"Yes ... Ares is in each one of you, and for too long your ignorance and hate have kept him in constant pain. There is no god who can survive if he is no longer worshiped by those who He guides. None of you could remain in this world without the power given to you by priests and other humans under your control." The voice told them. "Ares has held on for centuries. Somber and closed off from the rest of humanity and the gods in order to keep this suffering in him, and not to release it into the world. So that his power may not destroy life on earth and in heaven, for such is his destiny, he is the only one who can rule this deity. This deity exists because without it nothing on earth could survive. War is not only a fight of swords. War is this feeling in everyone that we must constantly fight what is in oneself and around oneself. If humanity no longer had the motivation to do better, to live better, to stand up to life and its trials, to fight ... then everything would cease to exist. The power has always been there. What it lacked was a soul to guide it, to complete it, to remove it from this solitude which gives birth to madness. Ares was that soul. The only one of all the web of life that I recognized able to hold this role. He was born for that and lived for that."

Destiny turned to Zeus after watching them one after the other.

"And you father of gods and heroes, your destiny has never been to replace the god of war by one of your chosen ones, and even less by the one who has lost my way and is not far from receiving his due, if he continues to prevent what must be happening. "

Zeus knew she was talking about Hercules. To this day he only ever saw the perfection of his son. His noble Hercules who resembled him so much. It was this resemblance that suddenly seemed so ugly to him. Because in that terrible hour he had learned to see what he really was and what he saw was nothing but arrogance and greediness. He saw in him and in Hercules what had always been there: that part they had inherited from his own father. This madness that made Chronos, father of Zeus, devour his children. Ares, he was different ... He was so like Rhea, mother of Zeus, and Gaia his grandmother. He had that tenacity, that desire to struggle to survive and to have a better life. Ares had inherited from women goddesses. Of those two who made Chronos fall, and of Hera who after having been abused by her husband, became queen revered by humans. Warrior queen who gave a warrior god. No ... Ares was not destined to be born of Zeus as long as he was destined to be born of the lineage of these women.

Zeus closed his eyes on tears he had never shed. What had he done?

"But there is a chance."Destiny announced.

Zeus opened his eyes and begged her silently.

"As the power needed its other half to guide it to avoid destroying the world, the soul needs a guide in turn.This is a power of trinity. The power of war, the soul of war, the guide of war. This last guide is missing and in pure instinct Ares has gone to find him. He has to reach him. Not only to have him by his side physically ... but to make that soul stay with him for eternity. Ares must close the trinity, which is the ultimate destiny of the god of war, the one he was not obliged to follow because he had the will until then to survive each day without further help ... Until he was broken. He would not have had to take this path without your actions today. The way existed. But it has only come to life in recent decades. As soon as Ares started to lose his will. As soon as these instincts were stifled by the orders and hatred of your family, the way opened. Until the birth of Hercules the guide had no body. The guide was waiting. He was born later, feeling called. And since he has been waiting on earth to be joined by the god of war to complete his destiny. "

"Who is the guide?" Zeus asked.

"The guide's name only belong to Ares. It's up to Ares to discover him and to bring him to Olympus, where the trinity must have its abode."

"In this case we must not go in search of my father." Tell Cupid. "He is on the right track, is he not?"

"He is on the way but can fall out of it, you are destined to look for him, only ... while you are after him, he will be after another, you will give him more will to achieve his goal. All his actions will depend on you all. I can not tell you the reason. Just know that there is one and that you must follow it. "

Destiny began to disappear, its white silhouette becoming translucent and invisible. Its Voice sounding one last time:

"Follow the reason ... Follow Ares."

Chapter Text

War was carried by unadulterated wrath. Half power and half soul. Seeking this whisper that he wanted to conquer and possess. That voice that spoke to him and could guide him.

It was not the first time this whisper had reached him. It had been heard for a long time. A distant echo first, inconsistent, which one day had come to life. But always present. War had just chosen to ignore it. After all he had not needed it until today. He had done his duty so far. He ... had never been lost as he was at this point? Had he?

A lie. War told himself. A lie all those words that were only facade. War could not live without this whisper. Survive yes. Live no. But what mattered was that he no longer had the strength to ignore that flame ... of hope. For this murmur was the only guide for war in the world. Ares would find him and capture him.

Not once did War think of asking the murmur for his help. His survival instinct too powerful to see anything but a hunt and the capture of his treasure by any means possible.
It was a question of possession. To regain what was his. An attack was the best solution that War could find in this fight he was leading. After all, it was the talent that had been given to him. To fight and win. Strength of life, hope, spirit.

There was not much time left. Because War felt the presence of other energies that wanted to find him. Others like him, he thought. Souls with a power parent to his. And he could not afford to let them win this hunt.

War disappeared again in an aura of white and black thunderbolts. It was only one of the relays to follow towards his guide.

A few minutes later, Eris, sister of Ares, appeared at the place where she felt her brother's power. He was no longer there. And the only clue she found did not even possess a trace of his energy. It was a pike of old rusty iron that seemed to have been used recently, in view of the bloodprints on the handle.

An unimportant object that the goddess threw to the ground before resuming her search. And the forgotten weapon rolled on the ground for a moment, stopping at the foot of a tree. If the goddess had taken the time to really look, she would have seen the name engraved in the middle of the rust. And she could have gone ahead of her brother in this hunt.

It was a path she had not followed.

Chapter Text

War materialized in silence behind a large rock. The murmur was no longer …

In its place was one of the most beautiful voices he could hear.

It was familiar to him. And that saddened him, although this feeling was totally unknown to him. Because it meant that he had already met his guide and ignored him. He had his guide in front of him and had not taken possession of him. The vague sadness became anger. He could not continue on that path he had chosen. He had to stop surviving and grab everything he needed to live.

War advanced slowly, predator avoiding to scare its prey.

The voice continued its melody. No vow of power, nor blood. No wish to see War die. Pure innocence. Not that of newborns or virgins. The sound was too full of pain not to have known and confronted life. It was an innocence of hope. A being who had never ceased to hope, to believe in a better day. To want to bring out good in every life he crossed, instead of seeing only destruction and rage.

How could the voice keep this purity by having the experience of life that War knew it had?

It was a mystery he did not have time to solve if he did not want to lose his prey.

Yet ... the prayer that came out of the unknown lips attracted all his attention. Perhaps there was more to gain by hearing the words? So War changed his plans. What strategy remains unchanged if you want to win?

The prayer was strange, the words of the being more like a discussion with a friend than a request from a warrior like War had the habit to hear in his memories.

"I know she's not a bad person, but just once I'd like to be welcome somewhere, not to be rejected, I don't want to say I'd like her to pounce on me or whatever. No, because I realized that my interest in her was superficial and that she is more of a friend than anything else, and also she is in love with Xena and Xena loves her in return. I am not so stupid as to not see it, but now that I'm acting like a friend she does not believe I'm not trying to seduce her. Which is really stupid because I don't bring her flowers or give her presents. .. But she continues to insult me to push me away, even as a friend ... I do not really understand what she has in mind. What she's thinking. But if I'm just a burden for her I'm not sure I want to cross their path again. Xena does not even react to at least stop her from hitting my head with her staff or treating me so badly.''

A sight and then :

''So Ares I don't really know what to do. I have always dreamed of becoming a warrior and protecting Greece. Only ... I am unable to fight and I am awfully awkward. I remember when I was little, Jett, my older brother, tried to teach me to fight. He said that being beaten by our father could not help me improve. Secretly he trained Jace and me. It is thanks to him that I know how to defend myself and that saved my life several times. But unlike Jace who transferred his natural grace into the art of combat, although he never told Father because he was not interested in becoming a warrior ... I kept this clumsiness and can not get rid of it. Jett wanted to know why I was so different from them ... and he discovered the truth. Did you know Lord Ares that a child whose skull is shattered against a stone throne is left with scars for life?

It seems my father seems did not know. He who thinks himself so intelligent. While I was just a baby, he thought that my brothers and I were the result of an infidelity of my mother and he wanted to prove that by checking if we were as strong and resistant as him. He branded the elder Jett with the mark of his house to show that he belonged to him. I think he knew deep down that we were of him and did not want to lose his heir. Jace, the second, had his veins cut open but bandaged almost immediately because he did not cry once. Jett had not cried either ... It seems that our nurse heard his plans and gave us a drug to keep us calm but not unconscious. Me... he grabbed me and hit me against the stone chair that served him during the war meetings. I did not cry...

The drugs made us forget. And we were only babies. But now Jett knows how he came to bear our house's brand. He cut the skin there to remove the symbol. He says he prefers a scar rather than to belong to our father.

Jace has found a stranger who engraves symbols in the skin of those who want. He calls it tattoos.

That's where I was this week away from Xena and Gabrielle, with my brothers. Jace made us come after discovering the stranger, he wanted our presence when he erased the memory of our father. We held his hands. But without any drugs, Jace did not cry for a second until the end ... and when the tears came they were tears of joy.

Me, I can not remove the mark of our father, I will keep the scars for life. I am just happy to have seen my brothers free from this weight of the past. It's this week that changed me. I would have gone back to Xena and Gabrielle to follow them in their adventures but ... I am different and so lost.''

There was a second of silence, a weight of hurt :

''Ares ... I know I'm not a real warrior and most of the time I dream of becoming a warrior so as not to lose my god. Because all these years I have held on your existence and this hope of being more than an incapable person or a reject. Is there nothing that can keep me under your service? Is there nothing I can do? I do not need a reason to keep you in my heart, because your place is there ... but I need to give you a reason for you to keep me in your mind at least, and maybe in your warrior's heart as anything other than a hopeless dreamer. Maybe because I know it's ... a dream I will never reach, I do not pray in any of your temple as usual. I don't want to wait in front of the hotel and never see you coming to me. I will lose all hope. And once again I spoke and spoke for nothing... but I always feel that somewhere you are listening to me. An illusion I know ... but as I told you, I'll cling to you as long as I can. You are my freedom in this world, the one I chose. I could have taken another god even after being offered to you with my brothers at our birth. I only had to do something else in my life, to write, to dance, to be a philosopher. But I wanted you despite the remarks of my father and the other warriors. It's my choice."

The man finally stops talking. He sits quietly at the water's edge, his hand touching the liquid quietly, floating on the surface like a caress, his face turned to the sky in a determined expression ... and rather mulish thought War with the little reason that came back to him in the presence of the other ... Joxer ... the man's name was Joxer ... And Joxer called him ... War But by another name ... Ares. Was he ready for that name? What difference between War and Ares? They were one in the end, and Joxer was their link.

"Mine," thought Ares. Joxer was his, only his forever. Until now, War, or Ares as the other named him, had seen his quest as one more war, but Joxer gave to this sense of possession which the god wanted to take from the guide, a very different direction. A fire set ablaze the god of war, a passion that surpassed any thirst for combat that he had known, Ares finding in this being a moment of peace in his inner rage, even though in the form of a new fire, stepped forward in silence.

Once behind the man he made a noise, voluntary, and Joxer turned quickly to him, a hand going to his sword on the ground. There, the hand resting on the metal while the other, covered with water, rose in front of him as in defense ... Joxer raised astonished eyes on his god but before he could move anymore he saw the god bend down to grab him violently. Blocking his arms behind his back and bringing him in contact to Ares' chest. The sword fell to the ground near the abandoned armor that Joxer had removed in anticipation of the bath he intended to take. With Ares' hand holding his arms behind him he could not fight against the strength of the god. And the rage that still swam in Ares' black eyes was surpassed only by a feeling that Joxer could not recognize but that made him shudder. The god's free hand passed in front of his face, coming to rest on his eyes to keep them closed and a wave of energy carried Joxer into a deep sleep.

'Sleep.' Thought Ares as the god supported the collapsing body and then transferred it into his arms, carrying it like a bride, as preciously and gently as he could. The two disappeared in a ray of light and dark lightnings.

And while the lost god wrestled his treasure from the mortal lands, his brothers and sisters still roamed them. Some searching temples and dwelling belonging to Ares. Some going to see his daughter Xena, the warrior princess.

And...

Others following Hercules' footsteps, in case their lost brother tries to attack him.

There was no one to think for a second about Joxer the Brave. The one who was invisible to anyone other than Ares.

Chapter Text

Ares appeared in an old lone house in a valley. It was a place no other god knew. And even War, in its wounded, shattered state, struggled to recover Ares' memory of it. As long as the power of war was not reunited with the soul of Ares, their spirit would remain broken.

Only the presence of the man in his arms allowed the god to see a semblance of memory.

This house had been his refuge when he was a child. Here had lived an old warrior who had taught him a lot and at his death had offered him this house. Ares had never revealed that a mortal had helped him in his youth, before he took the power symbol of the god of war. Here, he knew he was protected and no magic other than his could enter or leave the dome surrounding it. Nobody could follow his power in this place. Because Ares had protected the land with his energy for centuries, had hidden it from the eyes of mortals and gods alike.

And in so doing, had made of these grounds an intermediate place between the two worlds, which only he could reach.

Shaking the visions of the past, the god entered his shelter. It was nothing more than a large room used as a bedroom, with a simple door open on one side where one could see a large bathtub worthy of a god.

A huge bed was stuck against the wall opposite the single window and the front door. It was covered with furs and cushions. A hearth burned with what Ares remembered as an eternal fire that his aunt Estia, goddess of fire and home, had gifted him. There was no risk in letting it burn on when he was not staying there.

The carpet on which the bed was laid was bigger than the wood frame, offering a brief asylum against the cold bare stones of the old house. No other luxury was added. Ares, who had lived all his life in battle, never having a real home other than his temple on Mount Olympus, was not used to that kind of thing.

He liked simplicity. No decorations taking dust, no big useless tapestries. A bed, a bath, a fire. What he could not have on the battlefield .

Realizing that he had been standing for a long time, the god closed the door behind him with a thought and walked towards the big bed. His mind was clearer with Joxer in his arms. Soul Ares having momentarily taken over War.

With another thought, he removed his guide's clothes before deposing him gently and reluctantly under the furs that had moved on his orders.

Ares' hands were hesitant as he relaxed his grip on his guide. Yet he knew he had to. Already, the murmuring growing in his mind restored to War all power and reminded him of his duties towards men and the world.

He reassured himself that this being who belonged to him could not cross the shields protecting the house. Joxer could not abandon him.

And nothing in the world could steal this man from the god of war.

Chapter Text

When he awoke, Joxer's first action was to cling to the blankets with the brutal realization that he was naked. His grip was even stronger when he saw his god bend over him.

"Ares? What is ... Why? I mean ... Not that you do not have the right to do what you want ... but ... not that I protest either .. I mean, I'm protesting ... But not to disobey you ... Anyway ... you probably have ten thousand things to do, so I'm just going to get dressed and leave, unless you want something?" Joxer said with precipitation.

But Ares just took Joxer's hand and caressed it without a word. Only then did Joxer realize that his god had the same expression as when he was kidnapped. A bubbling rage covered for the moment by an emotion that greatly frightened the man lying naked in a large bed.

Yes. Joxer had wished and asked for the attention of his god ... But not for a moment had he thought of this particular need of the god of war. It was not uncommon to see two men together, especially among the warriors who spent so much time away from their families. What baffled the mortal was to have caught the attention of Ares. Joxer was not very handsome, he knew it. He was not ugly either. It was just that he did not have the slightest charm.

The few women he knew were from Meg's brothel, and he had to pay.

So having The God of War at his bedside with that burning look ... was scary.

Especially since Joxer could say without difficulty that the god was not himself. He was not entirely 'there'. He could not know how true he was. Because Ares and War were still not united. And when one ruled the body the other moved to the background.

In this second, Ares was in front, holding back the fire of War not to scare the precious being in their hands.

"Is it an accident with a love arrow again ? Because if it is, I'm sure that Cupid or Aprhodite ... No, forget Aphrodite: she would love the situation too much to help. So as I was saying... Cupid, he would come immediately and he would heal you with a wave of his hand, an arrow, or whatever he needs, and then you can just throw me through the window to make me leave the place …" His voice cut off when Ares groaned in a rage that Joxer was smart enough to understand the reason for.
"I'm sorry, I meant that you could keep me here for as long as you want knowing that it's really what you want, I mixed my words and I am perfectly, totally, sorry."

Again, he broke off. But this time because of the captivating black eyes that almost hypnotized him.

Ares suddenly looked up at the ceiling, looking enraged. His hands clenched on Joxer's, which he still had not released. The sound of distress that the mortal could not restrain made him look down at his prisoner. A flash of indecision passed in Ares's gaze and then ... before Joxer could react, he was under his god's sleeping spell again.

Without losing a moment, Ares went to a battlefield where he felt that all his plans had been sabotaged. He knew it was a trap to capture him. He could even feel that the signature was that of members of his 'family' of power. Of those others like him. But as a god of war he had to intervene.
He was an unparalleled strategic genius on Earth. He would find a way to get both sides back on the right path while avoiding his ... 'brothers and sisters' said his memory as War regained control.
As soon as he arrived, he moved with the help of his power everywhere in the camp where he felt the interference of the 'others'. Fortunately they had changed only small things. Surely to make sure that they could put everything back in order after their mission accomplished. It was their mistake.

War took advantage of this to arrange what he wanted before disappearing again without leaving a trace. Glad that his guide's company the day before had helped in giving him back his military knowledge, as well as a little of the reason he had lost during what he called the 'separation' of the two parts of his being.

Unfortunately for him his family was tenacious. So he spent this new day traveling the country to repair the damage of 'others'. To avoid the catastrophes that would arise if war plans were not followed to the letter.

War did not know it, but that day made him at the same time regain the confidence of his men. For he arose when they needed him the most, and the rage he had learned to hold all his life, even in their presence of warriors, was in full view for everyone to see and focused on the fulfillment of their wishes. The men did not realize that their wishes were answered only because they coincided with their god's mission.

All that mattered to them was to receive an answer.

But while the armies of the people were rejoicing, while Joxer slept, while the gods of Olympus tried to capture their lost brother, War fell back into that state of animal rage he had after the 'separation'. The more time he spent away from his guide, the more the connection between the two parts of his being became fissured.

The prayers of his faithful were no longer sufficient to maintain his power. Only the seal of war's trinity could save him and with him all of Greece and the world. Because if he lost the little control he had left ... there would probably be nothing left in his way but ashes. The Earth itself would not recover. Only Destiny knew the tragedy that would take place if this path continued.

Yet Destiny also knew ... that in the evil caused by the other gods by separating War and Ares from their guide, without knowing it they also increased the chance of the creation of this trinity. Because without their actions, Ares having full control in the presence of Joxer, would take too much time to seal the union. Only War, guided by his instincts, would provoke the union without further delay.

The damage caused by Zeus was to the point that every second now counted. If Destiny hadn't been certain of the heart and choices of Joxer the Brave, she would have preferred to see the world fall than to see a single soul 'forced' in what was coming. But Joxer was Joxer. Destiny knew his values. Just as Ares had been the only one to be able to contain War in him and to unite with the destructive power, Joxer was the only one able to join these two entities. For him to join with these two parts and join them finally in this unique entity that they were before the intervention of Zeus.

Chapter Text

ENOUGH ... ENOUGH ... Shouted War in the hell that had become his very being. His thoughts, his body ... he was only pain and rage.

Again his eyes could see nothing but darkness and only a small gleam of light clung to him coming from a Joxer still asleep and away from him. His guide had stayed with him, whether he realized it or not.

Taking advantage of his loss of attention, the gods who had taken over this battlefield to attract their brother ... surrounded him with their powers like an indestructible cage. They did not realize ... even after the events in Zeus's office ... the real power of the god of war.

And to this day none of them could have understood that a god could hide such a deity as he had done. There was not a god on Mount Olympus who could have contained 'War' as Destiny had called it every time she came to follow their progress in this mission. They would all have exploded, would have gone crazy. 'War' had never been for them. Just as War had never been below their powers as they had believed. All had benefited. All had given orders, knowing that they were incompatible with their father's instructions not to touch Hercules. All had reported to Zeus when Ares did not succeed in these projects.

All the gods had some day made use of the hatred of Zeus towards the son whom Era had given him. All or almost all. The house of love had stood alongside Ares at least. Just as today was Cupid, appearing tall and strong in front of Ares ... seconds after his father beat down those who wanted to imprison him. Seconds before the god of war used his immense power to destroy those whom his rage no longer recognized as brothers.

Only a father's bond with his son could stop the hand of power. War stopped his gesture as soon as he felt the presence of this other who had arrived. This other who did not attack him and exuded peace and love ... for him?

The being was standing, without moving a millimeter. And War recognized in this gesture the necessary control to support the energy of war that he was still sending around him. This 'other' could stand up to him. But this other did not seek to capture him, only to prevent him from destroying the 'others'. And if that was all he wanted, War could give it to him.

Not a second War stopped to ask how he could feel all the emotions directed at him by this being while all his other 'brothers' were like empty containers for his fiery senses. This bond that had held his hand had somewhat quieted him, enough so that he could decide his next actions instead of following the trail left by the traps of other gods.

This bit of reason that had returned to him by the mere presence of this unexpected 'other', allowed him to take a new path of Destiny. The strategist in him realized that his brothers had not irreparably destroyed his battles plans and that what they had damaged could be put in place with their own hands.

War had no reason to continue his fight against them. Because at the end of the day, they would all rush to fix the result of their manipulations. Because deep down their mission was to give the world a sense and a precise order. These battlefields, deaths and survivors were wanted. So at the end of the day the gods would repair everything.

War could return to his refuge.

Chapter Text

War was transported directly into the small house of the hidden valley. And although his instincts were screaming to mark the sleeper as his, the feeling of peace that arises in him to find this precious presence ... made him dizzy.

War suddenly felt even more lost than before, though differently. A little of Ares's mind had come back and whispered to him that he should seduce and not take. That to keep this being he should at all costs avoid hurting him. And that to possess it without his consent would do more harm than good.

Guided by these thoughts, War left the house by the front door, heading for the secret garden he had once asked his grandmother Gaia to create. He made the choice to let Joxer wake up. Maybe his absence would allow the man to relax. And if it had no effect, then War could do nothing else. For all his instincts were already screaming at him for this single action of leaving the house.

But Ares was right. As much as they both wanted to keep Joxer in this forced sleep so as not to have to face the mortal and perhaps lose him, neither could they stand the idea that the man would not chose them by himself. Keeping him asleep forever or letting him chose. It was a risk to take.

Joxer came back to himself, alone. The fire in the hearth strangely warmed his soul and calmed his worries. The memories of his last waking moments had less power in the light of these flames. And he did not even think he was under the spell of a god. Or if he was, that god or goddess had no bad intentions.

Closing his eyes, Joxer wondered what he would do if Ares returned. The god was apparently not himself, otherwise Joxer would be ignored and only witness to one of the many confrontations between the god of war and Xena, or even Hercules.

And if Ares was still under the influence of an arrow of love, as was his first guess? Joxer could not resist the power of his god or his requests. Ares was strong enough to control him if he tried to flee. And he could also easily tie, gag, or simply put him to sleep as he had already done.

Could Joxer live with the idea of being forced into something he could easily give to the god he had chosen to worship? And after all ... it was just a body ... and probably only one night. He would certainly suffer more from being ignored once the spell on his god was lifted, than to spend a night with him.

The eyes that Joxer reopened on the room were full of pain that had not been there before. Because he knew that this decision was going to hurt him but that everything was for the best. Even if the best was not the best for him but for another.

He sat up slowly before rolling out of bed. The carpet under his feet helped a little to warm his body for want of his soul. But as soon as he touched the stone floor that separated him from what he could see as a bathroom, he felt chilled to his core.

He ran through the room on shaky legs. He did not even try to see if the door was closed and the window unbreakable. He was sure that was the case. He never doubted that his god would hesitate at nothing to get what he wanted. And what Ares wanted seemed like a helpless and lamentable warrior. Which would not have prevented him from taking some precautions to prevent him from fleeing.

In the meantime ... Joxer guessed, at the apparent lack of hygiene of his body that it had been several days since he had taken his last bath ... And since he was about to take his first bath in a month just before being kidnapped ... He was even more surprised to have caught the attention of a god. But especially of his god.

With a sigh, Joxer watched the big bathtub in the room he had just reached. Without much surprise he noticed the lack of a window or emergency door ... Very useful for a man who like him wanted to flee very far. Even if he would not really have gone very far. After all his god could find him anywhere because of the link Joxer had created himself by choosing to enter his service.

Really ... if it was not for this little flaw, having chosen Ares among all the gods would have been perfect. Unfortunately nothing ever was perfect.

Joxer slipped into the water with a new sigh. Relief this time to find hot water. He was not sure it was not constantly heated even when there was no one home. When one is a god it is not difficult to have water always at a good temperature and always clean. Unless Ares just came to prepare this bath. In this case Joxer hoped that it was for him and not for the god himself. Was there any particular punishment for a believer who steals water from his god's bath?

All he needed to complete his bad luck would be for Ares to come in right at this moment to find Joxer naked in his water and to decide to take advantage of the situation ... bad thought Joxer.

Deciding that the risk was worth it. And that he deserved it after the recent events. Joxer took his time, relaxing as much as possible. He had always loved water. Almost since his father had tried to set him on fire during a demonstration to his soldiers, and despite the time he had also tried to drown him.

Water cleaned blood and wounds. Water erased the startling pain of a bruised body.

You could jump into the water from a cliff to escape danger, fall into its waves and swim to safety. And even the danger of not going back to the surface was less in this case than being faced with an army of cruel men.

One could purify one's soul in the water.

And that's what Joxer did. He was preparing for what would come if Ares was still under this strange spell. And to do this he had to start afresh. Erase who he was and offer more than he would ever have.

He left the bathtub with regret. Especially to avoid looking like a plum. He jumped at the sight of the blood red bath robe folded over a small stool. Iit had not been there when he entered.

After wiping himself off with the wide, mysterious towel, he put on the robe as soft as silk. The color was, he knew, another way of the god to declare that he belonged to him.

No sooner had he passed the door leading to the room than he was seized by two strong arms. His back held against a solid torso, there was no doubt about the other's identity.

Stuck in the strange embrace, he who had never been in such a position did not know how to react.

A kiss on his neck made him freeze with fear. Even if he knew what was going to happen, he had no less valid and almost insurmountable fears. The arms around him tightening and the sound of pitiful growls made him forget all doubt. He had made a choice and would conform to it for the sake of that being who at this time was no longer the god of war but a lost man. It was easy to recognize the animal part of the one who held him. He could see that Ares no longer had all his reason and even seemed hurt by the fear Joxer felt. So Joxer would be the one who would make sure everything went for the best.

The mortal relaxed and put his head on the shoulder behind him as a sign of submission. The arms relaxed around him and one of them tried a gentle caress.

Closing his eyes Joxer told himself that for his god he could do everything and that if Ares needed him so ... then he submitted ... without fear now. This divine being already had his soul, he would soon have his innocence to the desire of a man and his heart.

Ares heard Joxer's thoughts, and the possessive part of him rejoiced at being the first and only to own this man in this way.

The caresses were more insistent and Ares lowered the robe to kiss the bare shoulders.

Soon, Joxer was lying on the bed and at the mercy of his god. He did not resist and participated as much as he could. If it was possible for a god to feel remorse Joxer did not want Ares to feel guilty once he was normal again. So he told Ares that he offered himself freely because he would always be his, whether by following, as a friend or as a lover, from that day on he belonged entirely to Ares.

"No matter what I am for you Ares, know that I will always be there." And it did not matter too much if tomorrow Ares sent him away from this house and forbade him to pronounce his name. It did not matter if he had to keep a distance. And even if Ares rejected his prayers, Joxer knew that from noow on his soul would no longer be his, and that for ever he would dedicate his life to that god he ... loved.

If this love had begun as that of a warrior for his general, and if it ended on the broken one of a man used for the happiness of another ... it would be a love as strong as the first day. The difference would be that between the two, Joxer would have really lived all that life had to offer. And that he would have offered everything he had in him to live it.

The mating was wild but tender at times, as if Ares remembered that Joxer was mortal and fragile before being submerged again by the rage of his power and possessiveness.

It was an experience for Joxer. More than that he knew it was the ultimate gift he would make to Ares. And he was glad that this gift was made not to the 'god' but to the soul he could see through the passion of Ares' gaze. That was what was so different in the god of war on this day. His soul wasn't hidden by any mask. And Joxer knew he would be the only one in the world to ever see this mystery unveiled that was Ares beautiful soul.

The joy of this realization was accompanied by the greatest pain. Why him? There must have been a reason for him to be chosen. He hoped there was one. Because, from this day to the end of time, he had just become bound to this rare and powerful being. And he knew nothing would separate him from Ares anymore. At least ... other than Ares himself if he decided. But Joxer hoped that once the god was back to normal, Ares would have pity on him and let him at least continue his service in the same shadow as always.

Joxer lost consciousness under the intense sensation of pleasure and pain that Ares gave him. As much physical as it was moral.

He returned to him in the night, taken again, back against the moving chest of the one who possessed him with passion. And so the cycle of union continued until dawn.

In the morning, awaking to a new day, Joxer was worried that Ares was gone. But exhausted, he fell asleep again, unconscious of being once again under the power and the will of the god of war.

He did not know what woke him up the next night. He got up, washed, and sadly erased the evidence of his recent lovemaking. The fear of tomorrow was back, much stronger than before. Should he beg his god? Or would he have the chance to continue seeing the soul behind the facade?
An hour after his bath, his forehead resting on the only window of the house, he began to pray to his god. As he always did his words were more for a friend than they were for a god in Olympus.

"I know I'm small and insignificant in this world, but if I could be enough for one night ... and if you're your usual rabid god of war again." He said with a sense of humor that he suddenly found welcome. "If you're a god and not a man like I've seen tonight ... let me stay true to you, because this night does not change anything for me, it gave me more, as much as I hope I gave. In no way did it change my desire to remain faithful to Ares more than any other god. "

Joxer sighed becoming more serious than he had shown anyone other than his own brothers.

"Just Ares, you're just Ares for me, as always, and if I could be just Joxer for you ... even if it's a Joxer you decide to ignore. Don't reject me. Because I'd only pray to you and would try to do my best for you and no one else. Even if I end up face in the mud because of my clumsines, let me be me ... for you. " Joxer asked while slowly watching the night make way for the day.

When the sky became dark and angry, Joxer realized that Zeus must be in a great rage or at best fighting somewhere ... it left him strangely cold. And this bond, which he did not know had been reinforced to the point of no return with Ares and War, was frozen in expectation of what was happening somewhere on Olympus.

Chapter Text

Ares had resumed his duties towards the armies of Greece. Always pursued, or rather followed and spied on since the gods now knew that none of them was powerful enough against this force of nature. Even all together they could not do anything.

The spirit of the god of war and the soul of Ares were almost sealed as they had been before separation. The union with Joxer had healed them to this point. But there was still a step to take in their bound. And although he did not know what he had to do anymore, Ares God of War was ready.
He knew that the moment would come for him to discover this last missing part.

He had just finished giving his orders to the generals of one of his camps when he felt a near by danger and only pure instinct allowed him to avoid the arrow aimed at him. An arrow could not do much harm to a god ... if it did not come from the quiver of another god.

In his anger of being attacked by the one he now recognized to be his son, his flesh and blood, War got the upper hand again. Ares knew it was possible until the union was finalized. Fortunately, Joxer had given him enough power over the other half of himself to hold War's hand against his child.

Cupid found himself lifted from the ground and held firmly by the throat against the bark of a tree. All he could do, especially when he saw the spark of recognition in his father's eyes, was to mutter his excuses. Because he had no choice but to act as he had done.

Using all his restraint, and knowing that it was not normal for his son to try to pierce him with one of his arrows ... Ares, leading the rage of War, entered the young god's mind to understand this mystery.

The rage that arose from what he could see there, was such that he was transported by her without a conscious decision on his part. The lightnings of darkness and lights of his aura were wrapped around each other to help their master reach his goal.

For the God of Gods, Zeus himself, had made a fatal error. And Ares hated him that much more for his actions and the orders he had forced on Cupid.

Zeus's office contained only three people. Two he wanted to destroy more than anything. And one like Cupid who was given no choice.

Zeus, king and father ... Psyche, manipulator of souls and minds ... Hera, beloved mother.

Under the force of Ares' power, the three figures flew against the walls around them. Each held in place with no way to escape the magical restraints. Only Hera suffered less because her prison was not made to hurt her at all.

Zeus painfully realized that he had again committed the worst mistake, whereas for once he had wanted only to offer the best to his son. Unfortunately ... he had no experience other than manipulation. And all he had ever done to his eldest son was to hurt him. It was inevitable that, according to the plans he had always used for Ares, he obtained the same result despite his good intentions.

These thoughts, his desire to help, for once, saved his life. Ares was surprised to see what his father had wanted. It was so little and far too late. Yet it gave him a bit more of the hope that he had begun to find with Joxer.

What made him release his father was what he extracted from Psyche's mind. Glad that his first action on his return to this room had been to read his prisoners with the help of the immense energy that made up War.

His son's wife, or rather ex-wife from what he could see, had come to Zeus with this ploy seconds after the 'Ares / War Separation' took place. Zeus had been in such a state of astonishment and regret that he had not even felt the entrance of the young woman into his thoughts. Neither when she had imprinted her ideas on him until she got what she wanted.

And because he did not realize what she had done, he did not understand that the plan did not come from him, nor could he get rid of it.

Under Psyche's guidance, Zeus had ordered Hera to break the marriage between the young goddess and Cupid. Hera, being married to the king of the gods, was under his control and was always to obey. Including when he prepared to marry the infamous goddess to Ares ... once the god of war was found.

The idea was that Psyche could take control of Ares' mind once united to him. Thus placing the god of war under her authority and forever locking him in a cage from which he could not leave, that of a marriage for which he would become a puppet without a soul. That was what Psyche really wanted.

Hera could only obtain one thing from this horror that had to take place. She had extracted from Zeus the promise, immediately granted and enforced, that he would erase the magic of the arrow that had made Cupid fall in love with the once mortal and now goddess. For at no time had the love that had made him marry and offer immortality to Psyche been real.

Cupid was free now but Zeus had wanted Ares married and under control. He had been certain that once back among the gods, and his power controlled by the god of gods, as Psyche had made him believe that she would pass to him the control she would get after the marriage ... Ares would be back to normal and then, the danger passed, Zeus could try to be forgiven his mistakes.

He had been a fool ... he knew now that he could feel his son's power cleansing Zeus of the manipulation he had suffered.

Zeus watched his son and noticed that no matter how animal he was right now, there was a bit of reason in him. And even his aura danced more than it tore the air around them. Something had happened that had started this change.

Zeus's heart stopped when he felt Ares focus his power on the youngest goddess to slowly tear off her deity. It was a right he had but no god had ever used. The right of retribution as the father of the groom betrayed by his wife. Any god or goddess had access to this ancient law which required that if one of their children was so wounded by a deity to whom they had offered immortality as a wedding gift ... then they could retake their gift and punish the criminal.

Since Psyche had divorced only to marry another man, she entered the conditions of the laws of Olympus ... especially after she forced her will on three other gods to achieve her ends.

To avenge both his son and himself, Ares removed her immortality in addition to her god's power and made her more ugly than an old witch with pustules before, with a gesture, he send her to earth.

Zeus knew that his son had the right to do so, but when Ares was about to leave, something in him broke. His hopes of redeeming himself ... and perhaps learning to love this child he had always rejected.

Zeus freed himself from what was left of the confines his son had placed, and tried to catch him ... not with his power but with his bare hands. This one choice, as unconscious as it was, allowed him to succeed. Because Ares in his surprise had not had time to act accordingly.

Yet nothing was won. Ares was fighting to free himself and the fight was such that Zeus, having in mind only his desire to keep Ares close to him, had to use his divine energy to maintain his grip.
The two gods were surrounded by gold threads (Zeus), white and black (Ares). And the rage of their will spread to the heavens above Olympus and Greece.

Their power was so powerful that none of the gods, attracted by the battle, could enter the room. And all were stuck on the threshold of the door. Witnesses of what many of them had refused to see. The god of war, Ares, was as strong as the Gods of Gods. Even more than him if he released his magic completely.

Nothing the pantheon had believed was true. And the one they had often avoided, hated, hurt ... was more than any of them would ever be. The war deity could have destroyed the earth and the heavens if he had not possessed control that no other had.

Then they realized something else: Ares could have taken his place on the throne of Zeus at any moment and made their lives hell. Instead, he had continued his duty as a god of war and had simply protected his family, his children and those he loved against the manipulations of other gods.

Impatient to go back to Joxer, War surpassed Ares and blasted the king of the gods sending him first into a wall and then to the ground.

Completely exhausted, Zeus could not do anything but watch his son disappear.

Yet Ares had one last surprise in reserve. Turning his gaze on the room one last time and past the uninteresting and defeated faces of the other gods, Ares seemed captivated by the display shining beneath a large bay window.

Zeus no longer has the energy to move, Hera still trapped in the invisible cage, and the rest of the pantheon unable to advance into the room because of the war energy that held them ... There was no one to stop Ares from grabbing the cup of Ambrosia that never empties. The greatest treasure of Olympus.

The cup of fruit that gives immortality is lost in the same aura of lightning as Ares.

Eyes wide with panic, Zeus had the strength to order the others to go after Ares. Even though he knew they had little, if any, chance in finding him.

Still, hoping to get ahead of Ares in his plans for the cup, Zeus sent a large portion of the gods to all the mortals children of Ares because one of the things he had always refused his son was to make them gods. Otherwise why would he take the cup? While Zeus was being healed and Hera released, the others dispersed to find Ares.

Chapter Text

Ares had never thanked Destiny so much as in that moment when he saw the cup in his father's office. Who else could have offered this path he wanted to follow? What were the chances of Cupid missing his target when he was at the top of his game? For Ares knew that his son had warned him of his intentions thanks to the bond that bound them... in the hope that Ares would make him fail his task.

What chances also that the cup was in the room when it was normally hidden from everyone's eyes? The mere fact that it was necessary for the marriages of the gods did not prevent the cup from appearing in the hands of Hera during the ceremony and not be placed on a display before.

These were just small things that all together had the touch of one of Destiny's paths. One of those paths that existed and that a being had to choose or not by himself.

Nothing in the world would have restrained Ares and War from this choice. For he knew that that was what was missing from his union.

Ares materialized in the room where Joxer was still waiting glued to the window. Without a sound he approached the man. Joxer, feeling his presence, turned around and smiled with relief, much to the wonder of the god who before Joxer had never inspired such feelings in any living being.

Joxer looked at him with so much doubt while keeping that smile that the god knew it was only there to prevent any remorse he might have had from their recent union.

Ares heard the man's thoughts. How he wanted to know if the god was under a spell and if the magic had stopped. Joxer was hesitant in his actions, and in the reactions of his god. But there remained this hope of seeing the soul in the depths of the god's eyes. Then the god understood with increasing happiness that the mortal had seen Ares and War beyond the simple deity he was.

Joxer had seen beyond the facade, and accepted each parcel of his god ... but more as a friend than as a faithfull follower of a god.

Reinforced in his decision Ares handed the cup of Ambrosia to Joxer. The mortal catched iit with a curious look. And his thoughts were sad:

'Is it a drug to make me forget? Is this a good sign? Does that mean he wants to keep me as I was before and that the only way to get there is for me to forget? But he would not need a potion for that. He could erase my memory with one thought. So what does this cup contain? And do I want to drink it?'

Eyes fixed on the liquid, Joxer was reminded of old illustrations he had seen in a market. Of a manuscript that Gabrielle had wanted but could not afford. Joxer had been working for months to pay for the book the merchant had set aside for him.

Joxer had wanted to offer it in proof of friendship but Gabrielle was more and more cruel to him and had not given him the opportunity to speak. Xena and Gabrielle had met him on one of their trips, and Gabrielle had been eager to send him away to a so-called important mission. Joxer knew that had just been a way for the young woman to get rid of him. The manuscript had remained in his bag until he reached one of Ares' temples. The priceless book was the most important offering he ever made to the god.

And this cup that was represented there ... how was it called? The cup of Am ... In a few seconds he realized what was in the chalice. Because, what else would Zeus fight with so much rage that the sky becomes black? What golden cup might be on Olympus that Ares had to go fetch there rather than summon it? Joxer was not stupid. He could not know that Ares had not gone up there for that reason originally, and that did not matter much. What he could see was that Ares was covered with cuts and black spots as if lightning had hit him and burnt him. And he had handed him this cup with so much reverence that it could only be that.

Joxer was already shaking his head, pushing the cup into Ares' hands who grunted in reaction. But Joxer could not do that …

"You don't understand Ares, when you are normal again, you may be angry at me for allowing you to possess me when you would not want me in normal circumstances. But you will never forgive me if I let you make me a god. You will hate me, loathe me, and I will lose you and all the hope that has made me survive to this day, I will not be able to live if you hate me, I do not want to live an eternity of your hatred and contempt. Never! "

Then Joxer threw himself to the side to avoid Ares and ran to the bathroom door. Maybe he could lock himself up. At least the time for Ares to come back to himself and realize his mistake? Illusion, dream, hope ... useless.

Ares's arms wrapped around him from behind sending them crashing to the floor where they rolled fighting to gain control. One to free himself and the other to capture. At last, Ares took the upper hand and Joxer found himself with his back bent on his god's lap, his hands held over his head and against the ground so as to take away any chance of escape. His legs were rebelling for the rest of his captured body. He struggled violently, trying to strike the man who held him with his feet. But with his back perched on Ares' bended knees, and his arms trapped, Joxer could do nothing. Tears flowed from his eyes when he finally realized it. He shook his head with a rage he never thought possible.

He could not let Ares do that ... he could not lose him because he did not know how to free him from his madness.

"No no no, no Ares, pity, I can not lose you now that I know ... that I know what being in your arms can be like, leave me that memory ... please don't do that. do not hate me. "

Joxer did not see a trace of reason in the eyes of his god, there was only a kind of flawless passion left inside the god. Joxer didn't know that his words in that second had sealed his fate in Ares' heart. In his heart, through rage and thirst for blood and war, the closed-hearted god Ares knew that his power and soul had made the right choice. Whatever happened now, he wanted none other than this mortal, his guide, whose innocence and purity had been offered to him. Joxer was not afraid to be with him forever, but on the contrary to be rejected by him. He was afraid of losing Ares when he recovered reason. But reason was already there ... able to really see this gift offered to him, and choose to keep it for eternity.

The chalice had fallen over during their struggle. Ares with one hand, while the other still blocked his lover's pale arms, seized the cup of ambrosia that immediately filled up again. Seeing the tight lips of the man in his arms, he leaned down and kissed him fiercely, forcing him to open his mouth and loosen his teeth. Then, while Joxer was trying to get back his breath, Ares forced the drink of the gods in his open mouth and rubbed his throat to pass the liquid that Joxer was still trying desperately to reject. In a hiccup Joxer swallowed, but still more liquid was forced into his throat.

Ares wanted to be sure he had succeeded.

Joxer finally lost consciousness under the onslaught, and Ares watched with wonder as a bright glow escaped his prisoner's body. More than immortality ... it seemed that the ambrosia had granted the power of a god to Joxer. Becoming a god normaly needed more than just Ambrosia. Only the god of gods could give this gift. But it seemed that Joxer's bond to him was enough for more.

When Joxer came back to himself mind filled with his last memory of the day, he curled up in the big bed in which Ares had deposited him. And he cried for a long time, his thoughts flying in all directions and his last hope dying in this moment.

He could not see or hear Ares sitting in an armchair by the bed. Nor see that the god had recovered the entirety of his being and his power. The bond between the then mortal and Ares had solidified when Joxer had become immortal. Especially now that the ambrosia had woven their two deities into one.

As Destiny had predicted, the trinity was born. War / Ares / Joxer.

Ares had regained all that made him, and now he was listening to the thoughts of the man he had forced into this place. And he could not blame himself for his choice in his madness. Or what the separation of his being in two half had done that could be considered madness. Because for the first time he knew an unconditional and unique love. And he had taken possession of that being whom he wanted to keep forever.

Feeling Joxer's broken heart and his loss of hope, Ares climbed into bed, noting how Joxer was shaking to recognize his presence. He turned the new god on his back and bent over him. With one hand he caressed the beloved face, caught the falling tears and said:

"I could never regret my madness caused by Zeus or my acts of those days with you, because Joxer..." And his hand kept the other's face from turning from him. Keeping captive brown eyes with a glance. "I chose you." And Ares kissed the man beneath him passionately, then feeling him still tremble he became sweeter. He looked up at his chosen and saw the tears flowing abundantly but with a bit of hope in the brown eyes.

"Please" A murmur of pain. All of Joxer's doubts and sorrows in recent days. The former mortal had not chosen to be kidnapped, but had decided to offer himself to Ares. It was his own decision that had hurt him the most. Because today he knew true love. He had fallen into Ares's arms and was so afraid of being released into a world where his arms would not be there for him.

The passion of the two bodies their first time was only a gift that he would never have dared to imagine. After all which man or warrior would have wanted him? He never had to think about joining with another man before. And the women he knew were paid for. The love he had always wanted, the family he wanted to make one day... he had found it in the weirdest of places.

And he did not want to let go.

"Yes," Ares replied to Joxer's prayer.

He removed the red robe from his chosen body and with a thought got rid of his own clothes. Their bodies rippled against each other and for the first time Ares' hands had time to be really sweet, even in the midst of his passion. He caressed and brushed, he cradled the body that was offered to him again. With patience he gave warmth and love in his gestures. He prepared his promised and slowly penetrated him. Possessed him with love and reason and no longer passion and madness. Tonight they would get to know each other, tonight they would be whole. Ares had decided. Joxer was his.

Then, as he felt his body tensing, Ares grabbed one of the hands that clutched the sheets viciously. With one thought he conjured a dagger and cut off the palm of his promised before repeating the gesture on his own hand. Then he pressed both hands together and let the blood mingle, keeping control of his body with difficulty.

"From this moment you are mine for eternity." Pronounced the god. And Joxer following the power of hope that their union had revived in him repeated these words. A wave of energy surrounded them and ran through them causing orgasm and sealing the union as the ambrosia had not done yet.

Their minds mingled and danced and Joxer knew ... that he belonged only to Ares for eternity and that his god wanted him and would never let him go. But more than a god, Ares had become his husband, his companion for all time.

By the will of Ares who wanted to give him more, the new god was surprised to have access and see in the memory and the thoughts of the other. He found himself witness to the fire of passion and love he had awakened in his god. That night, Joxer finally belonged. And for eternity had found refuge in the heart to which he had given himself. Ares hugged him gently and repeated softly, "I chose you".

They fell asleep in each other's arms, finally united for eternity. This trinity which had the power to be born since the creation of the Universe but which could only take shape at this moment.

THE END