"You are the biggest idiot since...I don't know when!" Gabrielle, eyes flashing, wagged her finger in his face. Joxer caught it.
"Yes, I probably am. But it's *my* choice." His eyes could flash, too. He felt a calloused hand on his shoulder, and could feel the strength behind it.
"Yes, it is." Xena's voice was as warm as her hand, and as powerful. "You don't have to approve, Gabrielle."
"I *don't*. Ares is bad news. Joxer, he wants to *kill* us. He's the God of War, for gods'sakes." She wrested her hand from Joxer's grasp. "And how can you defend him, Xena? You *know* what Ares is like. You know better than *any* of us."
"No, I don't. I thought I did, but I only saw what I wanted to see. And what he let me see of him."
"He's just using Joxer to get to you." She turned her back and stalked away.
"You know, I *am* right here." Ares smiled from the tree he was leaning against. Joxer caught his breath. All that muscle and black leather, and all *his*. "Maybe *I* could tell you what I see in him?"
Xena shot him a look, but Ares just kept grinning. "I know what you see, Ares." Ares didn't say anything, but Joxer walked up to him and let himself be pulled close. In the distance, Gabrielle glared at them all. "He's what *she* is. To me."
"Joxer's not a pest. Unlike her." He kissed the back of Joxer's head. Joxer shivered. Xena just smiled.
"You can't admit it. You're a god. You're Ares. But. You need him."
Joxer could feel Ares' arms tense around him, could feel the heat of anger building under that impossibly smooth, scarless skin. He placed a hand on one of Ares' biceps and stroked it until Ares relaxed. "I don't...Why is it so strange that I'm in love? I've been in love before and I'll..." Ares stopped. "I love Joxer. Why isn't that enough for you or for *her*?"
"Because we love him, too. We don't show it all the time, but we do." She looked Joxer in the eyes. "And Gabrielle's afraid that you'll hurt him. Or change him, make him more like you, because that's what happened with me."
"If I could hold him the way he is forever, I would."
"Don't make promises for me, Ares." Joxer turned in Ares' arms and then stepped back. Ares let him.
"I won't. " There was that look in Ares' eyes again. Joxer knew he was being selfish, but he couldn't help it. He couldn't let Ares give him that gift. Give him anything but himself. Instead, he hugged his own personal god close to him, and brought his head down for a kiss.
When he finished, when he needed to breathe again, Xena was standing next to Gabrielle, who was shaking her head. But Xena turned to them and smiled, and Ares smiled back at her. The sun glinted off the metal bits of her armor as she led her horse and her lover down the path away from them.