You Are My Place In This World

Walking into the War God's temple that rainy day, Joxer knew the time was almost upon him. The want, the desire…the yearning had built until he could take it no more. Veiled innuendos in their words, heated glances out of the corners of their eyes, weren't enough. For most of his life he thought he'd imagined it, but with this sense of almost…foreboding dread about what was to come, he knew that what happened today, would set the tone for the rest of their relationship.
If you could it call that.
But even knowing his time with War was growing short, that couldn't keep him away.
He knelt on the floor, in front of the shrine, and was surprised by how not surprised he was when Ares flashed in.
"Why do you serve me?" Ares asked, no, demanded, with no preamble. "I don't understand. You're not a warrior, you don't even like fighting. Why?"
Joxer blinked, rose, and turned away to hide the tears welling up in his eyes. The time for truth had come, as he'd known it would. But even being forewarned wouldn't keep the rejection from hurting.
"I want to serve you," he said honestly. "It's the only way I can get you to notice me. I know I'm not much of a warrior, but I know enough about Gods to know that when I pray to you, and you're listening to your prayers, you can hear me. You can't help but hear me. So as long as I pray, I'm yours." The last two words were whispered, he hoped so softly that the God would not hear.
But his hopes were in vain.
"I don't want you to serve me," Ares growled, one hand reaching out to turn Joxer to face him. "I want you to l-love me," he faltered. "Like I…love you." It was now his turn to look away.
Now this was a surprise. Oh, he'd known the War Gods could love…but very seldom did. And to have Ares love him…
"How long?" he asked, knowing the God would know what he meant.
Ares sighed and turned back to face the mortal, his expression haggard. "How long have I loved you?" he asked.
Joxer nodded.
"Long before I knew what I was feeling," he said softly. "You'd been following Xena around for at least three years, and while you'd always been special to me since your prayers were always sincere…it was never anything more. But one day you prayed silently, and I caught…other…thoughts than your prayers. Knowing you wanted me made me face the fact that I wanted you."
"And when was this?"
"Two years ago."
Ares' face was completely open, hiding nothing. And Joxer wasn't sure if that was a good thing…or not.
"Why didn't you tell me then?" Joxer asked, stepping a few feet closer to his God.
Measuring the slowly dwindling distance between them with his eyes, Ares answered, "Because I wasn't sure if it was Ares, Son of Zeus, God of War you wanted…or just me." He looked away as he said, "No one's ever really wanted just me. And I knew, even if you didn't, I'd still let you, because… And I can't afford to be that weak."
"Yes, you can," Joxer said softly, one hand reaching out to caress the other man's cheek. Looking his love in the eye, he promised, "Because I do want you. Just you. And I always will."
Ares saw the truth of Joxer's words in his eyes, and took a shuddering breath before saying, "You want me?"
Joxer nodded, a small smile on his face. "I want you. I need you. I love you."
A beautiful smile crossed Ares' face like a sunrise. All his doubts vanished for he knew Joxer would never let him down. "Then you got me."
And as their lips met for their first kiss, both of them knew they had finally found their place in this world…with each other.


THE END