Title: Panta Rei
Characters: Ares/Caesar, Caesar/various m, Ares/m, m & f, various m/various m
Summary: Change is inevitable.
This rating is for explicit male/male and male/female sex, sexual violence, rape and torture.
The characters belong to Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures and were used without permission. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made.
This story contains explicit sexual and violent content, including the aftermath of war, rape and torture, which some may find offensive and/or disturbing. There is a brief male/female scene, but the majority of the action is male/male. Please skip the story if you think that you might find these subjects offensive.
Timeline: Before the end of the fifth season of Xena. And as usual, I take huge liberties with historical accuracy. Historical accuracy? Bwa hahahahahahah!
Thanks to Thamiris for doing an invaluable, early-version beta that helped shape this. However, she isn't to be held responsible for the outcome ;)
I would happily receive constructive feedback at Ashera@asherasarchive.com
October 20th, 2000
Revised November, 2001
Amongst greedy winds lapping at the bloodied earth, uneasy spirits whispering opposing promises of recrimination and reprieve into the costly dusk, the god stood. Cold men lay oblivious to the gossips - and to the dark, still figure silhouetted against the crimson sky, looming above them. Their clouded eyes were fixed unseeing upon the burning heavens. Prince and common man alike, crushed by destiny.
Battle was a good thing. Or it had been once. Of that Ares was sure.
The dark figure moved, a silent sigh, weary fingers tightening around the friction-warmed metal of a pommel. The god squinted out across the darkening expanse of the valley, and waited. Having ended hours before, the battle still hung in the air like a presence that taunted, asked the god questions that he wished not to answer. Could he ever have foretold such a future for himself?
The victor had yet to sort the field, the buzzing carcasses already beginning to stink in the heat. The smell had once been satisfying, delicious even, but had taken on the quality of obviousness that so many things had of late. One war after another. Another hill captured.
The carrion call of the war vultures, the rattling of carious teeth and souls, sifted through his troubled mind as their sources waded into the blood-soaked valley. Once he had taken great pleasure in destroying such maggots, these injured and infirm ex-soldiers, mercenaries, and cowards; all too weak to take their own worthless lives. He felt nothing toward them now, barely able to concentrate on their greedy movements, and merely stood by as they slid life's ransoms off of rotting fingers, cut armor from gaping chests. Scavenging at the ends of existence.
Everything is different.
The sudden bubble of frenzied screaming brought the god's dark gaze and thoughts to the distant Roman camp, eyes focusing at the sight of the still living bodies being stripped, conquered soldiers flailing under the straps of their captors. Perhaps there could still be something here for him.
Ares began to physically drift toward the scene, pulled toward the familiar sights and sounds, hoping for the familiar response. Feeling the heat of the pain and ecstasy radiating out from the beaten flesh and leather, the god let his eyes drift shut as he neared, anticipating the excitement, willing himself into a receptive trance. But there was nothing, only the returning echo of his own emptiness, and he was pushed out of the spell.
The god stopped and gazed impassively upon the violent and sexual tableaus, each their own world of humiliation and terror. A sobbing man, filthy with his own shit, was forced to rape a fellow soldier, the blade of a dagger shoved in deeper and deeper each time his movements stilled from exhaustion. The blade was held by drink-hazed sword boys too young to take their own victims. A fat whore - probably from the Helvetii camp, her skin too fair for the sun-darkened Romans - was straddled over a pair of young centurions, pendulous breasts leaking milk as her heavy mouth worked over their glistening cocks. The remains of an augure rested against her thick, white thigh, human innards spread out into the shape of a phallus. Ares wondered what the reading had foretold.
A figure emerged then, stepping out of his tent past the flapping banners and into the strangely stilled frenzy of the sex/death-crazed soldiers. All posture and bravado, golden armor encrusted with blood, Ares' gaze was pulled to him. Caesar.
Ares watched as the Roman general surveyed the torturing, calloused hands hanging calmly at his sides as he observed the captives being beaten and disemboweled, fingers tapping lightly against his bloodied thighs as he offhandedly kept the beat of his paces. Despite their lust and fervor his men were acutely aware of his everpresent appraisal, their furtive, sideways glances as they slashed and thrust a constant. Caesar's understanding of this was implicit. These men had been with him throughout his recent campaigns in Gaul, and his relationship with them went beyond general to soldier, even beyond king to subject. It was perhaps more accurate to say it was god to worshipper. These men lived and breathed Caesar. Because Caesar demanded it.
Ares did not wonder how such a man had come to be, nor how he had yet managed to live. Such things were inevitable. Still, something about Caesar went beyond predictability. And this had called to the god. Not satisfied with mere fear, power or lust alone, Caesar had learnt to instill a potent combination of each in both his followers and his rivals. What drove the man, Ares wasn't certain, but he suspected that it was the man's mortality - his contempt of his inherent fragility - that instilled the fervent belief in the imagined destiny. A man with such an excess of will and determination, who had not only been born into wealth and privilege but had mastered the pursuit of power, for such a man to remain housed in susceptible flesh despite his godly deeds, it must have driven him mad. No wonder he claimed to be the descendant of gods and kings.
And who but a madman would do this? Unleashing his highly trained men on the captured opponents like rapid wolves? Raping and torturing while their honored brothers lay rotting in the field alongside the fallen Helvetii?
Still, Caesar was nothing if not thorough, and, like any other great leader, he understood that real fear was created out of exactitude, not chaos. But this combination of exactitude and unbridled disorder, this was Caesar's domain alone. Only one other had come close to directing such madness, but the pursuit had been abandoned - and so too Ares' interest in Xena's future (although, he still wasn't adverse to fucking the woman's mind and body - and maybe he did want more once). Like Xena, someone could mistake Caesar for a crude barbarian warlord, watching this orgy of pain and death, if they knew no better. And yet, who but Caesar could contain such bedlam? Wield such an unruly weapon with such precision? And such a powerful message to anyone who might oppose him. There are fates worse than death.
Such a man might have impressed him once, such hubris inflamed him.
But now I feel...what?
Such thoughts were dangerous for a god, particularly now in this time of flux, while the fates whispered about a coming Twilight. But what did it matter?
Caesar slowly paced the dripping columns of men, pausing here and there to get a better look at a victim or speak some words to tutor an eager centurion. Coming upon the particularly brutal rape of a once-pretty Helvetiian, the bloated youth's face drowning in semen and blood and the choking cocks thrusting down his throat, the general paused. Ares knew that the boy was royalty, the cherished son of some ailing king, and premature governor of his father's army. His destruction in this fashion was calculated, yet obviously fulfilled some other need in Caesar. The body would be returned to the father no doubt, complete with political demands, a treaty to be signed, and the genitals stuffed in the mouth of the corpse. Cocking his head thoughtfully, as if to fully appreciate the brutalizing of the near-dead youth, Caesar's hand came up to his face in an unconscious gesture, a finger caressing a sweaty cheek.
Pleasure. Caesar took pleasure from this. Ares drew in a cautious breath.
The man might have been a mirror image of himself, of the designed cruelty that once fueled him. Ownership of such a man could have been enough. But things had become so complicated. War in itself should have been enough for him for a hundred eternities, the depth and breadth of the beauty only his to fully comprehend. If only Parmenides was right, if the change were merely an illusion. But Heraclitis was much closer to the truth, something the god had been forced to learn; perpetual change was the rule. And here he had to enter the shifting river again.
Once things had permanence. Actions had consequences. And so he had cared. Really cared. Caesar's cruelty had surpassed that of even a god, and it had maddened Ares even as it excited him. A man so greedy, so indifferent to consequence, should have been easy to control, to seduce. But that wasn't the case. Not the case at all. Caesar had laughed at his offer. And now, strangely, Ares felt no anger. Only distaste.
Ares pushed the doubt aside, raging at his stupidity. Caesar was here now for the taking. Unresolved tension could be advantageous.
Already the general had grown bored, the strangled youth's molesting forgotten behind him. A small group of captives lay prostrate before him, trembling heads bowed low before their terrible victor. Caesar's gaze concentrated on an old blacksmith, large hands black from the forge. Perhaps out of some perverse curiousity the man was dragged forward at Caesar's command. Caesar's own men, the Roman centurions who should have been worshipping their wargod and lamenting the death of their brothers, instead stood stroking their swollen cocks as they watched Caesar rape the old blacksmith, the man's blackened hands digging into his greasy apron as their general took the man with an oddly muted determination.
Maybe Caesar would have eventually recognized change as well, but Ares wasn't going to give him the opportunity.
And now to play the fool.
The god shifted in the dusky light and replaced the sword he had been restlessly swinging back at his hip, the threatening thoughts buried for the moment. Returning his focus in on the Roman camp, Ares keenly watched Caesar dismissing his men, the general's unreadable back turned toward him, the armored shoulders as straight as they were at the dawn of the day. Ares imagined the man's spine as a fine-edged sword, bright, hard and cold.
Dark eyes followed as Caesar calmly retreated to his tent, absently nodding at his lieutenants, rinsing the blood and semen from his hands in a golden bowl before entering his private tent.
Then he was there, the stink of the semen, blood and shit thick in the air, the heavy fabric of the tent flapping softly. Ares ran his fingers down the silky pelt that lay across a divan, some majestic animal's dignity reduced to a trinket.
"What do you want?"
Caesar was undressing, his back to the god, no concern in the movements; nor had there been in the voice. Contempt seethed up unbidden within the god, and he crushed his nails into his palm. Yet, the contempt wasn't directed at Caesar, merely himself. Had he become so impotent? "I want some advice," he managed evenly.
That stopped the Roman. Caesar paused and turned around, an eyebrow raised in interest.
Ares allowed his eyes to rake the man, stopping to linger over the now flaccid cock. "I guess you had to kill some of them, didn't you, Caesar? I mean, you couldn't manage to fuck them all."
"I suppose that an endless ability to rut is an accomplishment that only animals and gods share."
A deadly pause, war dogs barking far off in the stinking field. Ares slowly grinned thinly. "Rarely is it worth it."
"I agree completely."
The god and the general stared at one another. Finally Caesar moved to casually wrap a robe around his body, sitting down on the divan, his face impassive. He began to sip from a nearby goblet, ignoring Ares for a calculated amount of time before seeming to notice him. "Wine?" the Roman offered.
"No, thank you."
"Would you like your cock sucked?"
"No, I'm exhausted. But I can call in a slave. I have a new boy. Rather delightfully confused. Constantly shifts between sexual abandon and terror. It's intoxicating."
Ares stood stubbornly for a moment, then sat down across from Caesar, spreading out his leathered legs in an exaggeration of ease.
Caesar smiled insincerely, sipping at his wine. "So, this advice that you wanted. What is it?"
"How do I destroy a Roman general?"
"Simple, you destroy Rome."
Ares' eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Sometimes simplicity is best."
"Hmm," Caesar responded dismissively. "Well, that's your area of expertise."
"Yes, it is."
For an unguarded moment Ares saw Caesar's surprise at the calm tone. "And you just might find out one day that your lack of understanding is fatal, Caesar."
"Are you threatening me?" The smugness had returned, Caesar's gaze penetrating in the maddeningly casual way that he had. But Ares was beyond it.
"You want me dead?" Caesar sounded vaguely curious.
"Now where would be the fun in that? Not at all, Caesar."
"You want me to kill a Roman general?"
"And who exactly would this be?"
The god leaned back and crossed his arms.
"Someone with comparable force?"
"Such a person exists, Caesar?"
"You've dispensed with Crassus, with Pompey." Ares saw the flicker of emotion pass over the Roman's face and smiled inwardly. "Who would dare challenge you now? Your destiny of becoming emperor is sealed."
Caesar looked disappointed. "Ares, have you become so clumsy? Do you think I am so easily goaded? You know very well that I did not dispense with either of them. Xena killed Crassus and Pompey."
"Xena is particularly effective at taking on such tasks."
Ares felt the Roman's intense appraisal.
"So, why not carry out a little campaign that will expedite things for you, Caesar?"
Caesar cleared his throat and stared off in disinterest. Finally Ares sighed and withdrew a banner from within his jerkin. Caesar revealed nothing upon seeing it, merely speaking the owner's name.
Ares replaced the banner, his dark eyes hard on Caesar. "I don't just want him dead, I want his army slaughtered; I want his family burned; I want his homeland razed to the ground."
"So, it's nothing personal."
"He pissed me off."
Caesar sipped idly at his wine. "He's in Byzantium."
"I'd need to raise a navy."
"So, do it."
Caesar continued sipping his wine.
"How long have you been watching me?"
"You commented on me and the captured soldiers. You didn't announce yourself, so you must have been spying."
Ares bit off a snort. "I don't need to announce myself."
"For how long?" Caesar repeated, framing the question in an earnest expression. "Since that day?"
Ares froze, his eyes wary. "What day?"
A cruel smile curled up over Caesar's lips. "That day, Ares. The day that you tried to take me away with you. Like Zeus and Ganymede, only more . . . violent."
"I did not try to . . . take you away with me."
Caesar shrugged, replacing the goblet on the table next to him. "Either way, you're not here about Alcibiades, are you?"
For a surreal moment, the god almost felt bored. Reminding himself why he was here, he willed himself to focus in on the hatred he had felt for the man when he had refused him. "Listen, you manipulative little fuck, when I say that I want something, I mean it."
"You said that you wanted me once."
"I wanted to fuck you," Ares said coldly, "Nothing more."
"Ah," Caesar said smugly. "Yes, of course." As Ares continued to sit stiffly before him, Caesar gazed at him unremittingly. "You know," he finally offered, "if I'd known that it was strictly physical, I would have indulged you. I just didn't want to cause you any false hope."
Now the illusion was shattered, the cold nothingness reverberating inside him. Ares tried to swallow it away, training his dark eyes fiercely upon Caesar. But the feeling wasn't there. He felt...nothing.
End this. Do what you must.
Ares abruptly stood, Caesar peering up at him with vague interest.
"Is there something wrong, Ares?"
"You want to be fucked, Caesar?"
A patronizing half-smile was the response, eyes slightly distant.
Features unreadable and without warning, a stinging slap was laid across the general's tanned cheek. Ares was rewarded with the fleeting sight of Caesar surprised, but the pleasure was just as brief. As the face almost immediately re-molded into its familiar indifference Ares swiftly slapped Caesar again before the man could offer a cutting remark. This time Caesar offered no reaction, but he did look less portentous. Ares slapped him hard again, and then again, his breath coming faster as he strived to ignite his rage. Finally Caesar caught the moving hand and glared at Ares, mouth opening to point out the god's pathetic recourse no doubt. But Ares was bored of the game, and merely wrenched his hand free of the grasp and backhanded Caesar so hard the Roman was knocked off the bench to the ground.
Caesar pushed up onto his elbows from the ground, his tongue feeling out the side of his bloodied lip as he stared glazedly at the god, his eyes glassy with rage. The Roman said nothing, merely standing up slowly as he held his jaw. Skin already alive with sensation, Caesar steeled for the anticipated assault, his head held carefully aloft.
But Ares didn't hit him, instead slowly advancing, his dark eyes opaque and empty.
Ares grabbed thick biceps in his hands and twisted the disoriented man around, Caesar finally finding his balance as he was thrown over the edge of the nearby table. The body felt weightless in the god's steeled grasp; an unsavory piece of fruit.
"Going to rape me, war god?"
The god answered the question by ripping the robe away and forcing his freed cock into the unprepared ass, Caesar letting a hiss slip before his throat closed-up dryly around the sound. The feeling was tight and perfect, the cruel pleasure and friction delicious beyond reason. But the god felt nothing. Pulling out to reposition himself, Ares gazed dumbly at his own turgid cock.
I don't care.
Impatiently pulling the body toward him, the wargod pressed in hard to the fleshy buttocks, grinding the metal fastenings of his jerkin into the soft skin. He reached round and clawed at nipples, the flesh already taut, then squeezed and pulled roughly, rubbing his cock around the reddened skin of Caesar's ass, staring dazedly at Caesar's whitened knuckles.
Ares again buried himself within the man, Caesar's quick intake of air making his eyes focus, and he thrust hard into the resisting muscle. "You like this, Caesar?"
A sick laugh vibrated between them. "I love it."
"So do I," the god answered tonelessly, his mind on all the blood that he had seen this day. Another hard thrust and Ares could feel the hot liquid trickling down his balls. "I love it."
The tempest of orgasm was gathering within him, but he felt distanced from its raging. Hefting the man up off of the table, Ares reached around to grasp Caesar's cock, the Roman's head swinging back and assailing the god with the all-too-human scent of the man's hair. Caesar's sudden moan and violent shudder was enough to unleash the storm, and Ares stood frozen as he emptied himself deep inside the man, sensing his body's feelings almost as an impassive observer.
But the exhaustion was real, more emotional than physical, and Ares sank down onto the mortal's back, the hard cock still in his steel and indifferent grip.
"Goddamn, you two are hot."
Ares flinched up, blinking at the man that sat beside them. No, wait. Not a man. Not a mortal.
"You fuck Caesar almost as well as I do, Greek god." The intruder squeezed his own hardened cock through his breeches to punctuate the statement. "Now, how about I finish the job?"
Ares stood up fully to challenge the man, immortal, whatever he was, but Caesar's chuckling dissuaded him. Ares watched as the intruder stood up and embraced Caesar, hard hands digging into the flesh he had just raped. The intruder's hand reached to palm Caesar's still hard cock, Caesar turning to kiss him over his shoulder. After a long moment of deep kissing the two disengaged from one another and peered up at the watching god.
"Would you like to watch? It would only be fair." Caesar's face was expressionless. The intruder laughed mockingly, Caesar stroking the bulge in the immortal's crotch behind him, then suddenly moaning as the hand sped up on his own cock.
"You wanna cum for me?" the intruder asked silkily.
Caesar thrust up into the hand, humming contentedly as the immortal rubbed the head.
Ares was still, black eyes burning into the immortal as he smirked at the god. "You'll regret this," he spat.
"Will we?" The immortal licked and nipped at Caesar's jaw as the Roman shook with his encroaching orgasm. "Cum for me," the intruder whispered, his eyes upon Ares. "Cum for me."
Caesar spasmed and grunted, thick spurts of cum shooting up into the air as the immortal pumped him, Caesar's hands convulsively clutching at the immortal. "I love you," Caesar cried out shamelessly, Ares flinching. "I love you, Lucifer."
Ares had to suppress a sneer, that attempt at his pride just a little too obvious. And Caesar had called him clumsy.
Caesar slowly composed himself, then placed a hot kiss on Lucifer's lips.
"Why?" Ares demanded in feigned anger.
Caesar stood and replaced his robe, regarding the god with disdain. "Why not?"
Lucifer gazed at Caesar affectionately. "I've grown rather fond of Caesar, you see. I couldn't let him die."
"Yes," Lucifer said thoughtfully. "He was to die after the next moon. On the Ides of March. But I couldn't allow that. So, I made a deal." Lucifer looked pointedly at Ares, Caesar also turning to observe the god.
"What kind of deal?"
"My life for yours," Caesar said bluntly.
The hot flood of nothingness drowned out the world, and for a moment the god was immobilized by the torrent.
"You alright, Ares? You look . . . upset."
Ares managed to focus in on the leering smirks for a dizzy moment before flashing out of the tent.
Ares appeared back at the hill above the camp, the night now thick with stars, and he let the cooling air unclog his mind. Events had progressed exactly as he had been told they would, and the god wasn't sure whether to be angry or relieved. But there it was. The change laid out for him like an open book. Could he live like this? With this metamorphosis into . . . what?
Then Ares felt him arrive, felt the hot rush of energy that made him terrified and aroused at the same time. Real arousal.
"You've done well," said the rich voice.
Ares nodded, carefully keeping his eyes on the fires of the camp as the expectation washed over him. He hated himself. Hated change. Gods shouldn't have to change. But they did.
"You seem unhappy."
Ares shrugged, still reluctantly waiting for the touch. He had to admit it to himself. This was all there was now. This longing the only reality. Everything had changed.
"Is there something you would like to ask?"
Ares shifted uneasily next to the angel, and a comforting hand was laid on his shoulder. His senses ignited. "How did you know? That he would . . . reject me?" The hand on his shoulder squeezed, and Ares felt the terrible thrill ripple through him again, smothering the nothingness into oblivion. "Why did it matter?" he continued shakily.
"We needed all the players to reveal themselves. And so they have."
Ares thought of the dark angel he'd seen with Caesar. "And their deal?"
"He has his own destiny to face. And he cannot deal with things he does not own."
The hand slid up to stroke his neck, and Ares shuddered as all of the doubt rushed out of him. He could live, as long as this feeling would continue. This pleasure would make all the change worthwhile. He turned carefully to the angel who touched him, peering up at him guardedly. "So, who owns me, Michael?"
The archangel swiftly embraced Ares, kissing his lips possessively and caressing him, Ares melting drunkenly into the overwhelming fount of pleasure and love. "I do, war god."
Brief Historical Notes:
Caius (pronounced Gi-us) Julius Caesar didn't actually come from a wealthy or influential family at all, but he did claim to be the descendant of Roman kings and the Goddess Venus.
The Helvetii were a tribe from modern-day Switzerland that Caesar booted out of Gaul (France).
(Source: Life of Gaius Julius Caesar: The Gallic Campaigns)
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