War's Own

By Aramis

A Hercules/Mag 7 Crossover.

DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to MCA/Universal, Trilogy, MGM, Mirisch etc and were used without permission. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made.

The War God stood on the small porch and looked around him with satisfaction. Yes, he had made the right move. A break from his annoying goody two-shoes brother and that irritatingly delectable, little sidekick of his was just what he needed.

He had deliberately chosen this time period. He had visited it before and had enjoyed watching one he had marked specially for his own.

The man was a natural warrior, a cold-eyed killer, deadly with his guns and with a glare that could peel paint. He had a sidekick of his own, but unlike Hercules' blond pest, the guy amused Ares. No woman, no matter her age or marital status was safe from the wiles of Buck Wilmington. Not that he forced them. Oh no, the guy could charm the proverbial birds from the trees and the dark god enjoyed watching him in action. He had even picked up one or two useful pointers from the scoundrel.

However, it was Chris Larabee that drew him back to this time. The god smiled as he spotted the object of his interest riding towards his cabin. The man had style and the most admirable colour sense in dress. He wondered idly how long it would be before he could get to watch the gunslinger in deadly action. Not long, if past occasions were anything to go by.

However, even as Larabee drew near, the War God sensed that something was amiss. The gunslinger's demeanour had changed in some subtle way. His clothing was the same, his deadly gun still hung low on slim hips, but something *was* different. Something was wrong.

There was calmness about him, a contentment that had not been there since the deaths of his wife and son.

The deaths had been interesting, as they paralleled the deaths of Hercules' family, although Hera had not been the perpetrator in their case. The results had been quite different however. While Hercules had become a champion of mankind against the gods, Larabee had become the self-proclaimed "bad element", delighting in his fearsome reputation with a six-gun.

Ares far preferred the Larabee reaction.

So what had happened to stem that glorious tide of fury and destruction? Why had the wandering gunslinger apparently set down roots and joined the side of law and order? And that he had done so was in no doubt as Ares could sense the new lightness in his soul.

Damn! What had spoiled his perfect follower? He would have to find out and ensure Larabee returned to his proper allegiance.

He slipped carefully into the gunslinger's mind and there was his answer. And what an unlikely one it was! Someone by the name of Vin Tanner was responsible for the unpleasant alteration. Ares could feel a happy warmth pervading the gunslinger's mind as he thought about his new friend.

Right, something had to be done. First rule of warfare: know your enemy. The War God transported himself to the nearby town of Four Corners to glean what he could about this troublesome mortal.

A garrulous, old drunk soon provided him with all sorts of interesting details. Ares was more bemused than ever. Tanner sounded like a perfect partner for Larabee. The dark god could not have chosen better himself. An untamed savage that had dwelt among the Comanches, ex-buffalo hunter, ex-bounty- hunter, deadly sharpshooter, wanted murderer and Hades only knew what else. Indeed, Ares would have been happy to forgo the joys of watching that scoundrel of a ladies' man in action, if he could have the pleasure of seeing this man and Larabee wreaking havoc together.

So what was amiss?

Clearly it was time to have a look at this Tanner, so Ares transported himself to the location of the problem.

There, seated by a slow-moving river, was a huddled form, clad in a scruffy, buckskin jacket and battered hat. He looked like something the cat had dragged in and then rejected as inedible.

Suddenly Tanner raised his head. Taken completely by surprise, the War God gaped at the tumbling brown curls, the sky-blue eyes and the beautiful face that even a week's growth of stubble could not hide. The man was gorgeous. He would have forced even Ganymede to look to his laurels. Whatever else he had been anticipating, Ares certainly had not expected this.

Then Ares was further taken aback as the man slowly slid his mare's leg from its holster. 'He senses I'm here,' he realized. That was worrying. The War God was invisible to mortal eyes, unless he chose to make his presence known, and the lithe tracker should have been totally unaware that he was under observation.

He watched in fascination as the blue eyes darted about, the man's ears all but twitched and he could have sworn he was scenting the air. The old drunk had mentioned the man had preternatural tracking skills, not that he had used the word. What he had said was that "the bastard could track a hummingbird through the air hours after its passing." Ares had, of course, taken that as woeful exaggeration, but now looking at the man he was having second thoughts.

A puzzled expression crossed the tracker's face. He rose silently to his feet and padded over until he was standing right in front of the War God. Then he raised his left hand and actually moved it through the god's body, biting his lower lip in perplexity as he did so.

Then to the god's consternation he rasped, "I dunno 'xactly what ya are, but I reckon only a coward would hide like yer doin'."

Ares was so amazed and angered by the comment that he nearly materialized. However, he was not ready to reveal himself just yet so he simply moved himself to a safer distance from the tracker.

Vin blinked in surprise as he felt the presence depart. "Shit, Tanner, yer crackin' up," he admonished himself. "Yer startin' to imagine thin's and, I reckon, talkin' to yerself is another sign," he added.

He lowered himself back to the ground, but continued to keep a watchful eye out.

The War God also kept looking at the tracker, trying to reconcile what the old man had said with the man he could see before him. The drunk had had no reason to lie and had indeed called on a couple of his friends at a nearby table to confirm some of his words. Further, the weapons, the dress and the general demeanour of the man seemed to fit the picture the old man's words had conjured up … at least in all but one vital respect.

This man was no murderer. That he had killed was not in doubt, and probably with a degree of ferocity that would make most decent folks shudder, but he was *not* a murderer. Ares was nothing if not an expert at telling such things.

A closer examination was necessary and was clearly not going to be possible while Tanner was conscious. He raised a hand. A small lightning bolt flew from it and Vin collapsed.

Carefully, employing all the considerable wiles at his disposal, Ares slipped into the surface area of the tracker's mind.

To his surprise, he felt uncomfortable there. Normally the one at risk from this activity was the mortal whose innermost self was so discourteously invaded. Too deep a probe could damage or even kill, but it did not usually adversely affect the invader himself. However, this was different and a bemused Ares was determined to find out why. He began to search.

The first information he obtained confirmed his earlier impression. The man was as brave as they came. He was a warrior all right and he would do what had to be done to protect the people that were important to him, but he was definitely no mindless killer.

Here was a man who had had a hard life and had suffered many injustices. He should have been full of hatred and a burning desire to revenge himself on those that had hurt or slighted him, but he was not. He accepted his lot and moved on.

A man who had seen what he had seen and had endured what he had should have been world-weary and jaded, but that was not the case. Indeed, to the War God's consternation and confusion, there was an innocence about him found normally only in the very young. He looked on the world with wonder, delighting in the many moods of nature. He treated all that did not mean ill to him or to those important to him with quiet courtesy and kindness. Worse, he had an inner peace that Ares greatly feared he was imparting to the gunslinger.

And there was something else there too. It was that something that was making the god so uncomfortable because it was so alien to him. Vin Tanner had a purity of spirit the like of which Ares had never encountered.

His chest seemed to burn as he touched it. It seared him. Unaccustomed to physical pain, he was taken aback at first by the strange sensation. Then he cursed as he realized what the problem was.

He hurriedly pulled himself from Tanner's mind and stood looking down angrily at him.

He knew he could defeat that goodness of heart. Of course he could … at least, he thought he could. Tartarus! After his painful experience, he was not actually certain. Yet surely a mere mortal could not stand against the War God. That damned Iolaus would try, but then there was always the demigod hovering protectively over him, not to mention Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Artemis and Hermes. Even Hades seemed to have a soft spot for the little hunter. But Tanner was alone!

'Okay, let's say I kill this mortal,' he mused. 'I wonder if it will turn my gunslinger back to the path he should be following?' Certainly, Larabee's family's death made him cry out for blood, but the damned tracker had wrought such a change in him that Ares was not certain how Larabee would react. He had an uneasy feeling that Chris might simply kill himself and *that* did not fit the War God's plans.

'I need to know more about just what Larabee feels for the tracker,' he decided. 'That will help me to decide. I'll just stow him somewhere safely in the meantime.' He squatted down, intending to pick Vin up, but instead found his hand moving, of its own volition, to push an errant curl from the tracker's face. 'I'd have said that damned hunter is the most beautiful mortal I've encountered,' he thought testily, 'but Tanner would give him a run for his dinars.'

He smiled at the thought. Perhaps *that* was it. Larabee wanted Tanner. And he would bet that in this ridiculously straitlaced day and age, the gunslinger would have hidden the fact. Hell, he had probably not even realized the truth himself.

Subconsciously desiring Tanner, Larabee had probably become fixated upon him, allowing the man's nature to temporarily suppress his own. There was a saying, 'Familiarity breeds contempt', that hopefully offered a solution. 'Let Larabee give Tanner a good hard fucking,' he thought crudely, 'and he'll realize the little bastard is nothing special.'

Further, with any luck, Vin would be shattered by the gunslinger's actions and any friendship would be gone.

'Right, how best to arrange things?' he wondered. 'I guess opportunity is the thing. If I recall, Larabee is not a pleasant drunk. Suppose I add a little potion to my gunslinger's whiskey to make him somewhat drunker than he might have expected to be from the amount he consumed and then I leave a little surprise all laid out ready for him … Mmm that might just do the trick."

Unfortunately, there was a slight hitch to that plan. When he returned to the cabin, he found Larabee was not alone. Buck Wilmington was there and the pair was preparing to head back to town.

However, that did not really mean the plan would have to be altered much. Larabee must have a room in town where Tanner could be put in readiness for the gunslinger's hopefully less than gentle attentions.

Then another thought occurred. What if he took on Vin's form, appeared to have consumed too much alcohol, and got Larabee really stirred up by flirting outrageously with him? If the gunslinger later were to find an unclad, semi- conscious tracker in his room, would he hesitate to sample what was on offer? Of course he would not! The man was no fool.

Decision made, Ares materialized in Chris' room and dumped the still insensible tracker unceremoniously onto the bed. An imperious wave of his hand and Vin's clothing vanished. Another motion and ropes appeared, winding their way like serpents around the tracker's wrists and ankles and then moving sinuously to the bedposts to spread-eagle him.

The War God looked down at the slender form, wantonly displayed for his perusal, and ran the tip of his tongue unconsciously across his lips. Hell, the man was a temptation. If Zeus had really wanted to punish Tantalus he should have put Tanner just out of his reach rather than the delicious fruit.

'I shouldn't,' he thought, 'though what would it matter?' He ran one large hand down the smooth chest to caress a small brown nipple and the other between Vin's surprisingly creamy thighs. Raising his victim slightly, he stroked that hand across the tracker's perineum to his anus. Here he paused. 'No,' he told himself sternly, 'Larabee should be the first one to take him. It'll be amusing to watch the tracker's … ah … how shall I put it? I know! Deflowering. Now there's a word! Strife would love this.'

For once he wished his annoying nephew were present. The young god was so delightfully malicious and could be counted upon to provide an entertaining commentary upon such occasions.

He briefly considered summoning him, but rejected the notion. 'Strife would not be able to keep his hands off Tanner,' he thought, 'and I want Larabee to have free rein.'

However, it was not in Ares' nature to deny himself anything, so he added, 'I'll let my gunslinger break Tanner in. I can always take him later if I still want to.'

He looked down at his victim. The ropes were a nice touch, but he would have to dispense with them before Larabee arrived. Still, he would leave them for the moment as it would be pleasant to think of Tanner in this most vulnerable position while he was busy in the saloon.

Now to his own outfit. What should he wear? Well, Larabee was clearly a fan of tight pants, to judge from his own attire, so that was a given. Changing himself into a copy of the sharpshooter, he proceeded to experiment with various outfits.

By about 10pm, Chris Larabee was starting to feel strangely light-headed. He and Buck were lounging in their favourite seats in a dark corner of the saloon and both had been drinking, but surely not sufficient to cause the swimming sensation. Of course, unbeknownst to the pair, until a scant five minutes before, Ares had been sprawling in the seat normally occupied by the preacher, who was out of town, and occasionally adding a tasteless potion to the gunslinger's glass.

As always, both were scanning the crowd: Larabee for possible troublemakers and Wilmington for potential bedmates.

Suddenly the latter gave a low whistle and sat up, his eyes riveted on a new arrival. Larabee turned idly to see the woman, who had caught the ladies' man's roving eye, and then sat up straighter himself in surprise.

Vin Tanner was sashaying across the saloon in their direction and was the focus all eyes. Gone were the battered hat and scruffy jacket, the rough cotton shirt, the patched trousers. The clean-shaven tracker was wearing a sky-blue shirt that exactly matched his eyes and had somehow managed to pour himself into the tightest pair of cream trousers that his watchers had ever seen. His hair seemed longer than usual, burnished curls falling over his shoulders in glorious abandon. The only familiar thing was the mare's leg, hung low on his slender hips.

"Hell, ya don't see a sight like that every day," Buck breathed.

"N-No, ya c-certainly don't," Larabee managed, stumbling over his words and hoping like hell that Buck had not noticed either that or, worse, that a part of his anatomy that had also jumped to attention at the glorious vision.

"Evenin', boys," Vin greeted casually, posing hip-shot before them for a heart- stopping moment, before sliding into his usual seat next to the gunslinger. Larabee wondered just how Tanner could even contemplate sitting down in trousers like those, let alone manage it.

Aware of the many eyes turned in the direction of his table, Larabee produced one of his best glares and the saloon's patrons quickly returned to their drinking and cards, with only the bravest or most foolhardy continuing to cast the occasional surreptitious glance at the three in the corner.

"Wow, Vin, who got ya all dressed up?" Wilmington asked.

"Just decided to surprise ya all with a little change," Vin replied smiling, "and I reckon I's done that all right. Ya can close yer mouth now, cowboy, ya look like yer catchin' flies," he added cheekily, reaching out a hand to lightly caress Larabee's chin.

Larabee actually flinched at the unexpectedness of the touch from a man notorious for shunning physical contact with others. "Hey, cowboy, no need to worry, I won't bite … lessen ya'd like me to," Tanner responded, grinning cheekily.

Larabee actually blushed. "Damn ya, Tanner, what the hell has got into ya tonight?"

"Nothing yet," Vin replied audaciously, winking at Buck, who gave a peel of laughter at the innuendo. Like Larabee, he was totally bemused by the transformation effected by the shy sharpshooter, but secure in his well-known partiality for the ladies, he was prepared to enjoy what ever fun could be had from the situation.

"Well, I reckon old Buck here could help ya out with that. Ya just say the word," he purred, wrapping a muscular arm around the tracker's shoulders.

Instead of pulling away, Vin leant into the embrace and fluttered his lashes at Wilmington. "Sorry, Bucklin, ya ain't 'xactly my type." He lowered his voice, though not so low that it was not fully audible to the gunslinger, and confided, "I prefer blonds, ya know."

Deliberately ignoring that provocative remark, Larabee intervened. "How much have ya had to drink tonight, Vin?" he demanded somewhat testily.

"Just a bit. Ya offerin' to buy?" the tracker asked hopefully.

"I think you've had more than enough already," Larabee pronounced sententiously.

"I ain't filled yet, cowboy," the tracker replied. "Ya could give me somethin' to help with that, couldn't ya?" he asked suggestively.

"I could give ya somethin' all right. A damned good thrashin' seems to be what yer anglin' for," the gunslinger growled threateningly.

However, the tracker had always been unperturbed by Chris' threats. He gave what could only be described as a giggle and said, "Spankin'? Sounds like fun, cowboy. And I reckon I can think of a few other fun thin's ya could do to me too." As he spoke, he reached out and idly trailed an audacious hand along Larabee's thigh towards his crotch.

Chris grabbed the errant hand in a crushing grip and slammed it back onto the table. "Ow!" Vin complained, drawing the attention of the surrounding tables again. "Ya know I kinda like it when ya get rough with me, but that's not nice."

Buck Wilmington was almost in hysterics. He wondered just what and how much the tracker had had to drink. This was so out of character for Vin and poor old Chris was getting very flustered. The usually cool, calm and collected gunslinger seemed to be at a loss to counter Vin's blatant and deliberate misinterpretation.

Larabee thrust some money at Buck. "Go and get another bottle, Buck," he ordered. "Anything to shut him up."

"Thanks, cowboy," Vin said sweetly, his azure eyes gathering sudden brilliance and his shapely mouth curving into a dazzling smile, "I's startin' to fear ya didn't love me no more."

"I don't!" Larabee insisted grumpily. "I've threatened to shoot ya in the past enough times, Tanner, but I reckon yer time's definitely come tonight."

"Come? Now there's a …"

"SHUT UP, TANNER!" Larabee fair shouted in exasperation.

Another half an hour of such teasing and Tanner announced pointedly that he was retiring to bed and took his leave. "I'll see ya later, cowboy," was his passing, and obviously hopeful, comment.

Stunned Wilmington and Larabee sat back and looked helplessly at each other. Buck was sore from laughing. Chris was also sore, but not quite in the same area. Vin's words and hands had been a torment to him and he could only be glad that their table was in a dark corner of the saloon.

"Well, that was certainly some night, Chris," Buck opined. "I wonder how much of it our little tracker is goin' to remember tomorrow."

"Don't worry, I'll see that he remembers and regrets everythin'," Larabee said vindictively.

"Don't be too rough on him, Chris. From the smell of whiskey he had on him, he probably had no idea what he was sayin'. And it *was* funny. Hell, when he …"

"Shut up, Buck!"

"But, Chris, when he said …"

"No! It was bad enough when he opened his mouth, but nothing he said bears repeating." He lurched to his feet. "I'm off."

A few minutes later, he reached his room and was surprised to find the door not only unlocked, but also slightly ajar. Carefully easing his six-gun from his holster, he nudged the door open with one knee.

The bedside lamp was aglow and sprawled on the bed, stark naked, was his recent tormentor, apparently sound asleep.

Normally the preternaturally aware tracker would have been awake, mare's leg in hand, the moment Larabee set foot on the stairs, let alone entered the room. However, he had clearly succumbed to the excessive alcohol that he had consumed.

Well, if the gunslinger sought revenge, here was his perfect opportunity to attain it. And the tracker would not be able to claim he had not asked for it. Why Buck Wilmington had heard every one of the little bastard's words and he was sure at least some of the patrons in the saloon had picked up part of the conversation. Anyway, apart from that, Tanner's decision to invade Larabee's room left him wide-open to any retaliation the gunslinger might contemplate.

'And wide-open is definitely the expression,' Larabee thought, his groin tightening as he looked at the wantonly splayed legs. He reached out unsteady hands and flipped Vin onto his stomach. The round, creamy globes of the tracker's delicious arse drew his hungry gaze. He cupped a buttock in each hand. Vin still did not move.

It would be so easy to take him and thus fulfill his long time, and much despaired of, fantasy. Even if the tracker awoke at the penetration, he would not be able to stop him. He was stronger than Vin, and the latter was in no condition to fight him off. No, he could take what he wanted and it would serve Tanner damn well right after his little performance in the saloon. He removed his gun-belt and began to peel off his shirt.

Ares hugged himself with glee as he watched the gunslinger start to shed his clothes. It was time to rouse the tracker. He did not want Larabee taking Vin while he was insensate. He needed to be awake enough to protest, to suffer, but not to escape the fate that Ares had planned for him.

Accordingly he laid invisible hands on the sharpshooter and Vin stirred and murmured sleepily.

Hearing the noise, Larabee dropped his shirt on the floor and moved automatically back to the bed. When Tanner had been unconscious, through injury or illness, Chris knew that he was apt to get frightened, as he returned to himself, lest he awake to find himself the prey to bounty hunters.

He put a hand against Vin's face. "It's me, cowboy," he said reassuringly.

Vin smiled and, without opening his eyes, turned his face into Chris' hand, nuzzling trustingly against it. "Love ya, cowboy," he breathed. "Love ya so much."

Larabee froze, the colour draining from his face, both at the sentiment and as he realized just how close he had been to betraying Tanner's trust. He knew Vin had a faith in him that he had in nobody else. Too many others had betrayed and hurt the tracker in his short life for him to trust easily and Larabee had been humbled by Vin's immediate and unquestioning belief in him.

Ares frowned. He could sense the change in Chris. However, he relaxed slightly as he watched the gunslinger strip off the rest of his clothing and then ease the covers out from under Vin, before joining him in the bed and drawing the blankets back over them both.

That did not worry Ares as covers were no hindrance to the eyes of a god, but what happened next did. Larabee gently pulled the tracker protectively into his arms, dropped a gentle kiss into his tangled curls and settled down to … sleep!

Ares could not believe it. Surely Larabee was not going to pass up the chance to sate his lust on the impudent little tracker. 'Perhaps I overdid my little potion and he's got too drunk and sleepy,' he thought in some perplexity. 'When he wakes up tomorrow and recalls, in the cold light of day, all that Tanner said and did tonight, he'll take him then.'

He settled down to wait.

At first light, the tracker stirred. He was not sure where he was and a surge of panic shot through him, but then he smelt the familiar scent of Chris and realized who was holding him. He was not sure how he came to be in this position, indeed much of the previous day was unaccountably hazy, but he did not care. This was where he had wanted to be from the moment that he first saw the gunslinger.

He snuggled into Larabee, determined to enjoy the closeness while it lasted, and wondering why nothing hurt. The only other times when he had awoken in those strong arms he had been ill or injured, but today he felt fine. He felt better than fine. Today he felt wonderful.

His wriggling roused the gunslinger, who tightened his hold lest Tanner be attempting to slip from his grasp.

Realizing that Larabee had awoken, Vin ventured, "Cowboy?"


"Why am I in yer bed?"

The gunslinger hesitated. Unwilling to lie and unable to think of a believable one anyway, Chris settled for the truth. "Because ya belong here. Because I love ya, Vin," Larabee whispered, burying his face in the soft curls.

Vin's heart leapt. "Good 'cos I love ya too, cowboy," he replied. He smiled sleepily and could not resist adding, "Only difference is I knew I loved ya when I first laid eyes upon ya. I guess I'm a mite faster on the uptake than ya are," he added teasingly.

"Oh, yeah, I'll show ya just how fast I can 'take' ya," Larabee retorted, rolling over swiftly to pin Vin with his body, "and I'm goin' to lay more than eyes upon ya."

"'m countin' on it, cowboy," the tracker replied, wriggling enticingly beneath him and wrapping eager arms around him. "And nobody, not even a damned War God, is goin' to try to take ya from me iffen he knows what's good for him."

"Huh? God? What god?" questioned the confused gunslinger.

"Never mind, cowboy. Just love me."

And the gunslinger proceeded to do just that.

An invisible War God was stunned. That damned tracker had somehow divined who he was and was probably aware he was still watching. Also clearly that hateful purity of spirit did not preclude loving Larabee with his body as well as his heart and soul.

And, worse, Larabee did not look like a man in lust who was going to tire of his partner once the act was finished. No, Ares could see the love blazing in those emerald eyes, the deadly hands holding the tracker to his heart in a manner both protective and possessive.

It had *not* been a good day, but somehow he could not bring himself to blast Tanner into oblivion. No, he would bide his time. Surely the gunslinger's true nature would assert itself again … surely.

In the meantime, he would head home and toss a few lightning bolts at that damned demigod and his pesky sidekick. That would be sure to make him feel better.

The End

E-mail the author c/o Nephele at [email protected]

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