Hercules, Iolaus, Ares, and the other characters are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, and no financial profit is anticipated. :-) Please check with us before archiving or distributing.
This story takes place shortly after the HTLJ ep "Unchained Heart" and features Ares, Iolaus and Hercules (we're assuming that Hercules and Iolaus had encounters with Ares before Kevin Smith began making his oh-so-enticing appearances on the series). It takes place in the same continuity as atara's XWP story The Dark Side of my Soul and her HTLJ story Never Let Me Down Again.
Those stories and atara's other XWP stories can be found at Giffstein Productions.
This story is rated NC-17 for depictions of graphic m/m sex, moderate D/s, and rape. If such reading is not to your taste, spare yourself the trouble of reading any further.
Feedback welcome at email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
by atara and Ruth Gifford
"Go ahead," a male voice murmured softly. "Tell me what you want."
"Oh . . . please . . ." a woman's voice replied. "Don't tease . . ."
"I'm not teasing, baby; I'll do whatever you want as long as you ask for it."
"Cu-pid," she moaned breathlessly. "You're . . . driving me . . . crazy . . ."
*That's the ticket,* the listener thought. *Just keep her busy, nephew, and let her keep you busy.* He slipped into another part of the temple as the lovers got a little louder, completely oblivious to the drunk and snoring satyrs and their equally drunk and unconscious girlfriends who were scattered about the temple floor. As he accomplished his goal and prepared to leave, he shook his head, remembering his own long-ago days of drunken partying with mortals while choosing a new lover almost every night. *Kids!* he thought indulgently and not a little wistfully. He slipped out, not knowing that a pair of eyes was watching him with bleary half-interest.
Iolaus looked at the cup of wine in front of him. Someone had once told him that a man wasn't a drunkard unless he couldn't remember how many cups he put away. "Six," Iolaus muttered blearily. "And seven last night." He laughed bitterly. The problem with remembering how much he'd had to drink was that he also remembered the problem he was trying to forget.
Xena. Hercules. Xena and Hercules. Herc and Xena.
Over and over, his mind kept running through the combination of names. His best friend and the woman who had once betrayed him. The woman who had used him in order to get him to destroy that same best friend, the woman who had manipulated him with sex and words of love until he had become her creature. In the end, it hadn't worked, but Iolaus doubted that he'd ever forget the pain and shame of knowing that she'd never cared for him, never meant any of the things she'd said to him. He was merely one more in a long line of men who had been snared by the Warrior Princess' wiles.
At least, he tried to cheer himself up by thinking, he'd been the last. Forced to pay a hideous price for one simple act of kindness, Xena had changed. Iolaus hadn't believed it at first. Xena was brilliant, and her apparent willingness to help Hercules stop Darphus had seemed like one of her tricks. She'd been unable to get Iolaus to destroy Hercules, and so, Iolaus had assumed, she was going for the more direct route. But then he'd watched her during their fight with Darphus' men and he'd been forced to see that she'd come out of her long darkness to stand, blinking and surprised, in the light.
And Hercules had helped her out of that darkness. It was the kind of thing he did all the time. It was one of the things that made Iolaus care so much for his friend. Hercules had a way of making people live up to their potential. It was an almost magical talent to find the good in a person and then get that person (and often the rest of the world) to see it.
*Of course,* Iolaus thought sadly, *he doesn't usually have sex with them during the process.* That hurt in so many ways that Iolaus didn't know where to start. It hurt because, even after all she'd done to him, he still considered Xena the most exciting lover he'd ever had. As uninhibited as any man Iolaus had ever been with, far more beautiful than any woman Iolaus had ever loved, strong and forceful and inventive, Xena had captivated him. When he knew that she and Hercules had been lovers, he'd been jealous, pure and simple. He wasn't in love with her any more, but it didn't matter; the thought of someone else being with her burned down in his gut.
It also hurt to know that Hercules had fallen in love with her. Herc had tried to hide it, but Iolaus knew his friend too well. Of course, Xena didn't love Hercules, at least not the way the hero wanted her to. She had her own agenda, her own wrongs that needed righting, and she wasn't the kind of person to stay with anyone out of gratitude. Iolaus had watched as Hercules and Xena said goodbye, and, in spite of his own mixed emotions, he'd hurt for his friend.
*So I feel sorry for him; I'm pissed off at him; I still feel like an idiot over letting Xena use me like that, and I still want her. Am I messed up or what?* He thought about having another cup of wine, but decided that he didn't want to end up crying or tearing up the tavern. So instead, he paid the inn-keeper and headed up the stairs to his room. He was supposed to meet Hercules and Alcmene in Corinth the day after tomorrow to celebrate Iphicles' birthday, and he didn't want to be still woozy after a monumental drinking bout. Herc didn't need to deal with that on top of everything else.
*I'll set out tomorrow, sleep on the road, find a good cold stream and bathe, and I'll be as good as new,* Iolaus promised himself. Corinth was closer than a two day journey, but he wasn't sure how fast he'd be traveling tomorrow. For that matter, he thought as he fumbled with the door to his room, he didn't know when he'd be crawling out of bed tomorrow.
Finally he got the door opened and all but fell into the room. The only thing that stopped him from hitting the floor was a chest. A big strong chest with a pair of big strong arms that held him up as he staggered. "Herc?" Iolaus said, although, on second thought, he didn't think it was his friend.
"We'll get along a lot better, my friend," a smooth and vaguely familiar voice said, "if you *never* call me that again."
He had a moment to feel fear before the world spun around him and he was falling into some sort of fiery darkness.
Iolaus woke up feeling like an entire herd of centaurs had been having a party in his mouth. "Ugghhh . . ." he groaned.
"Here," a voice said, "drink this."
"This" proved to be water, clean cold water. Iolaus gulped it down thirstily and then looked up to thank his benefactor. His blood went cold as he saw that bearded face looking down at him and remembered whose voice it was he'd heard the night before.
Alcmene looked on as her son put the finishing touches on a section of the wall. Even for a demigod, he'd finished the task in an amazingly short amount of time, his face set and determined as he worked. He looked almost as if he were trying to exhaust himself. He'd shaken off all her efforts to get him to rest or to eat something, and finally she'd retired to the shade of a nearby tree and just watched him. He was far more impatient than she'd ever seen him, swearing under his breath when a rock slipped out of his grasp and moving without that unconscious grace she was accustomed to seeing in him.
"Well," his voice interrupted her musings. "There you are."
"Thank you, Hercules, it's a lovely section of wall. Perhaps you'd like to build me a barn in the hour of light you have left. Or maybe, if you still need something to do, you could go find a monster to fight."
His shoulders sagged. "Mother . . ."
"Come and eat something and tell me what happened."
". . . and so she left" Hercules said in conclusion. "She has her own battles to fight and she doesn't need me getting in her way."
Alcmene nodded as she looked at her son's restless hands. He'd reduced his bread to a small pile of crumbs and when he started toying with his spoon, she frowned. "Don't break that, Hercules, it's part of my favorite set. Iolaus made them for me, remember?"
Hercules put the spoon down as if it had burned him, remembering his friend's face as they'd parted. Iolaus had claimed to have "business" to deal with, but there had been a shadow in his friend's eyes that Hercules hadn't liked. It seemed to Hercules that Xena would always be between himself and his friend, and that was the last thing he wanted.
"She sounds very special," Alcmene said quietly. "But that's not all that's bothering you."
"It's Iolaus," Hercules said. "I don't think he still loves her, but I wish he didn't have to know that she and I . . ." He rose from his chair in an angry motion. "I *hate* hurting him like that, and . . . I'm just so confused about the whole thing."
"Perhaps you should talk to Iolaus." Alcmene wasn't too surprised when her son rolled his eyes and changed the subject by offering to clean off the table. She loved him dearly, but Hercules was not one to talk about his feelings with anyone, let alone Iolaus. She supposed that Iolaus wasn't likely to want to talk about his feelings with Hercules either. *Men,* she thought with amused resignation.
"Why not?" Ares asked. The god smiled at Iolaus, a gesture that failed to reassure the mortal. "Maybe because you helped kill my dog."
"I never thought you were that sentimental."
"Ha. Ha," Ares replied dryly, his eyes narrowing. "*I'm* not the one who was sighing into his wine cup over a certain black haired, blue eyed warrior princess."
"I'm surprised you're not," Iolaus said. "She fought enough battles to make even *you* happy." He regretted the words almost the minute they were out of his mouth, but he tried to look calm as Ares raised a hand.
"I think we've *talked* long enough," the god said, his voice silky with menace.
Ares gestured and Iolaus felt the room swirl around him. When things steadied, the first thing he noticed was that his wrists were bound above his head. He could stand on his feet, although it was a bit of a stretch. The next thing he noticed was that he was naked. He blinked and looked around. He'd never been in Ares' temple, but he was pretty sure that he was there now. The whole place was made of polished black stone, and was decorated with a great deal of red and several displays of weapons. There was a large intimidating throne right in front of Iolaus. The throne was empty.
*I have a bad feeling about this,* Iolaus thought. He knew that Ares had been angry, but the god's anger had been cold rather than a blustering rage. The mortal would have preferred a blustering rage; at least that way, if Ares decided to kill him, it would be fast.
"Just hanging around?"
There was a flash of light and Ares appeared a second after his disembodied voice echoed through the temple. The god was sprawled on his throne and he was fidgeting with something that flashed golden between his fingers. Iolaus couldn't help being curious, although he did his best not to show it. Whatever it was didn't *look* like a weapon, but he couldn't be sure. This was *Ares* after all.
"Hanging around," Ares said. "I slay myself." He laughed as he rose to his feet and strolled slowly to where Iolaus was imprisoned. "My, my, you look nice. I can almost see why my idiot half-brother puts up with you." As if he was afraid that his prisoner hadn't grasped the meaning of his words, Ares ran one hand down Iolaus' side.
Iolaus was sure that his gulp of surprise echoed around the temple. Of all the things he'd expected of Ares, *this* was not it. Although the god's hand was warm where it still rested on the man's flank, Iolaus was completely unaroused.
Ares frowned, looking at the mortal he'd captured. He hadn't expected Iolaus to respond to his touch, and yet his considerable pride was injured when Iolaus looked at him as if he were something the hunter had found under a rock. *Stupid mortal,* Ares thought. *Warriors *beg* for my touch.*
He backed off and circled his victim, reflecting that this particular bit of revenge was going to be rather enjoyable. Iolaus was certainly a cut above most of Ares' mortal lovers, and, as the god usually chose men as dark as himself, the hunter's golden hair and pale skin were certainly different. "Hmmm . . ." Ares mused aloud as he paused behind Iolaus. "I must try blonds more often."
Iolaus drew a deep breath, but did not reply and Ares ran a finger down the mortal's spine. "You think you can resist," the god murmured, leaning in to whisper right in Iolaus' ear. "And, normally, you'd be right to think so. But, I have a little something for you, to help you . . . get past your unreasonable dislike of me."
Trying to hide his concern, Iolaus snorted. "Even a god couldn't do that, Ares."
"Perhaps not," Ares said as he strolled around to stand in front of Iolaus. "Luckily for me, what I have in mind was created by a goddess. Granted, she's my ditzy sister, but when she puts her mind to it, she can be *deviously* creative."
While Iolaus tried to figure out what Ares was talking about, his captor reached up and fastened something around the mortal's wrist. Iolaus felt an odd shiver roll across his skin, almost like goosebumps but not quite. Once it passed, however, he felt no different than he had earlier. He looked up at the slender gold chain around his wrist. An odd charm hung from it, but he couldn't see what it was supposed to represent.
"I hate to disappoint you," Iolaus said, "but I don't feel any . . . ohhhh . . ."
Blue eyes looked at Ares in alarm and the god laughed slightly. All he had done was stroke his way along Iolaus' wrist to the man's shoulder. To be honest, he hadn't even been sure that Aphrodite's little charm would work, but Iolaus had quivered as he was touched.
"You see," Ares purred, drawing a line with his finger from Iolaus' neck to his navel, "Aphrodite got tired of her mortal playthings falling in love with her, when all she was interested in was their bodies. She wanted their bodies to respond without their feelings getting in her way. I'm sure she never intended it for *my* purposes here, but that doesn't stop me from taking advantage of her work." He ran an appreciative hand along Iolaus' flank again, noticing that, instead of pulling away, Iolaus leaned into the caress.
"And she just . . . let you . . . have it?" Iolaus asked, trying as hard as he could to fight his response to the feel of Ares' hand on his skin. *This is *Ares*!* he shouted at himself. *I refuse to be aroused by this monster!* He'd had roughly the same thoughts before Ares had put the bracelet on him, but now they didn't have the same effect.
"Of course not," Ares retorted, caressing Iolaus' flank again. He looked down, noticing with a smirk that his touches were having an effect beyond making Iolaus short of breath. "I stole the damn thing."
"Funny you didn't . . . get Strife to . . . ohhh . . . do your dirty work." Iolaus was glad when Ares stopped touching him. That hand had become impossible to ignore, and he could feel its absence as soon as Ares pulled away. As much as his reason objected, his body was shaking with the need for more of those careful caresses. He tried to think of other things, battlefields he'd seen, the old woman who ran the bakery he'd used to steal pastries from, the Hydra . . . all the things he'd used in the past to rid himself of unwanted erections. None of it worked; Ares' hand was hot on his skin and Iolaus' body wanted more.
Telling himself that he wasn't responsible for what his body did when his mind wasn't controlling it, he made his voice hard in an attempt to distract Ares. "Maybe you didn't want Strife involved, because stealing a charm to help you rape a mortal is a little low. Even for *you*."
Ares' eyes seemed to glow, and he slapped Iolaus across the face. For a second, the mortal was relieved; Ares beating him was far easier to deal with than Ares caressing him. The comfort of that thought was ripped away from him as the heat of the blow seemed to shimmer across his skin. It felt like nearby lightning, and the sensation was powerfully erotic. Shocked even as he wanted more, Iolaus bit his lip and closed his eyes as Ares looked him over.
"My, my," the dark god murmured, his anger apparently gone. "Now *this* is interesting." He ran a careful finger along Iolaus' fully erect cock. "And such a surprise." He looked at Iolaus shrewdly. "To both of us, it would seem."
Iolaus kept his eyes closed, seriously wishing that when he opened them again he would find himself waking up hungover and vowing never to drink again. He knew better of course. Everything that was happening was too sharp-edged, too real to be a drunken dream. With more dignity than he knew, he opened his eyes and looked at Ares, making sure that the god could read the defiance in his eyes.
Ares frowned slightly. So, Herc's little friend was going to remain defiant? *Oh, we'll see about that,* Ares thought. *I've tamed better men than you. And *this* time I have an advantage.*
He reached out casually and pinched Iolaus' right nipple hard, and was rewarded with a smothered groan and the sight of his captive's hips jerking. Encouraged, he did the same to the other nipple.
Iolaus focused his attention on the monster skull that decorated Ares' throne, trying yet again to force himself to think about anything but what he was feeling. Again, it was no use; his body thrummed with desire as Ares began to toy roughly with his nipples.
In a way, it was one of the strangest (not to mention one of the most terrifying) things that had ever had happened to Iolaus. He could feel everything that Ares was doing to him, and he could feel his own treacherous body reacting to every rough touch, but his mind was oddly separated from the experience through the effect of Aphrodite's charm. Of course, since his body was happily responding to Ares, Iolaus' mind had plenty of time to think things over.
He shouldn't have been so surprised at his reaction to Ares' game. His time with Xena should have taught him that he actually preferred to be the follower instead of the leader in bed. In fact, it was possible that he was more infatuated with the memory of what Xena had done to his body than what she had done to his heart. Her beauty was truly amazing, but what had really enticed Iolaus was that beauty combined with the strength she displayed both in battle and in bed.
Slap! A sudden blow to his cheek, followed by another to the other side of his face, bought Iolaus back to the present.
"I'm going to give you a choice," Ares said angrily. "You can explain why you're not paying attention, or I can go into to your pathetic brain and find out for myself. Of course I may do some damage when I do. . ."
"Like I can trust you to keep to the bargain?"
Ares pinched the sensitive flesh on the underside of Iolaus' arm. It hurt and again Iolaus felt the pain flow though his body straight to his cock. "I'm the God of War, not the God of Deceit," Ares sneered. "I keep my bargains."
Ares was right, Iolaus mused. The god did keep his bargains. A little unused to talking about his thoughts, the mortal drew a deep breath. "I was . . . thinking about why I . . . why this is working . . . on me."
Ares moved around behind Iolaus. Leaning in to whisper in the mortal's ear, he said, "You mean why this is working *for* you."
As Iolaus opened his mouth to reply, Ares bit him hard right where his neck and shoulder met. Screaming, Iolaus arched back and lost his balance. He ended up with most of his weight caught in Ares' hard arms as the god continued to bite and suck on the same place. It hurt, oh gods, it hurt so much, and for a moment, Iolaus thought Ares had crossed the line. Then his body relaxed into Ares' arms and he felt the heat of the god surround him, almost as if it fountained from that one place where Ares' mouth bit and sucked at his flesh. He writhed in Ares' arms, craving more of this painful pleasure, and when Ares finally finished and let go of him, it was a long moment before Iolaus could stand on his own again.
"What was your answer?" Ares asked, as casually as if they were just friends talking. When Iolaus didn't answer, the god added, "to why you like what I'm doing?"
*Oh no, Ares,* Iolaus thought in anger. *My body likes what you're doing. The rest of me hates you.*
"I don't know, really," he managed to answer aloud, hoping Ares was true to his word and wasn't reading his thoughts. "I think I started to figure it out with Xena . . ."
Ares moved with catlike grace and speed to once more stand in front of Iolaus. "Don't say that name here!" he hissed. He slapped Iolaus again and then bent to bite and tug at the mortal's nipples.
"That's . . . why," Iolaus breathed in between moans of pleasure at what Ares was doing. He had meant to speak to himself, but the words slipped out and Ares pulled away and looked at him.
"What?" Ares demanded. When Iolaus remained silent, a knife appeared in Ares' hand. "This time if you don't answer, I'll go in and get the answer and then *seriously* hurt you."
"I'm here because you *can't* hurt Herc, and you won't hurt . . ." Iolaus looked at the knife, and hastily amended his final word. ". . . her."
"Clever little mortal," Ares purred, trying not to give any indication that Iolaus had struck a major nerve. He moved around behind his captive again, wanting to think without having to hide it. He began idly drawing the point of the dagger across Iolaus' golden skin, not drawing blood, but leaving thin pink lines. As Iolaus squirmed and moved, almost dancing under the knife, the god had to admit that he enjoyed toying with his newest victim.
And yet . . . Ares was feeling a growing discomfort with this game of his. For one thing, Iolaus was too damned clever. He had figured out one of Ares' motivating factors far too quickly for the god's taste. Furthermore, Ares wasn't too sure that he liked having Iolaus' mind detached from the man's admittedly attractive body. True, Iolaus wasn't fighting him every step of the way, but how much of a victory was there in triumphing over someone who didn't fight you? Ares looked thoughtfully up at the gleaming gold on Iolaus' wrist. He could remove the charm, but no, having Iolaus' trembling body at his command was too irresistible. Of course, Ares had a long history of playing games like this with his lovers, and he could tell from his victim's response that he hadn't really pushed the mortal. He caressed the dagger in anticipation.
Iolaus wondered what Ares was up to. The dagger point had stopped its maddeningly light movements on his back a moment ago, and nothing else was happening. He should have been relieved, but instead he was just nervous.
What was Ares going to do next? Would he punish Iolaus for coming up with the reason (or one of the reasons) that Ares had captured him? Would it be more of this tease or . . .
Iolaus blinked in surprise; while he was thinking, Ares had moved around to stand in front of him again. Iolaus watched the dagger in the god's hand flash once and then he felt a sharp line of ice run down the underside of his arm. A moment later, the line flared into fire and he realized that Ares had actually cut his skin. It felt like a fairly shallow scratch, but when he turned his head to look, Iolaus could see the blood running down his arm. "Oh gods," he murmured softly, not at the pain, for it hardly hurt, but at the wave of desire he felt at the faint pain. But it was worse than that, for even in his mind he felt . . . something at knowing that he'd been made to bleed for another's pleasure. *What is *wrong* with me?* he wondered in desperation as his body trembled with need.
Ares took a deep breath and smiled tightly. "You're a little strange, aren't you, Iolaus? I like that in a lover." He made another fine incision on Iolaus' other arm and again the mortal felt his body move in response.
Ares continued to make fine cuts in Iolaus' skin. He was precise and careful, never cutting enough to cause serious pain, and always cutting enough to draw blood. Every once in a while, he brought the dagger to his mouth to lick the blood from it and Iolaus would feel a sort of mental shudder at the gesture. Physically he was more and more hungry for fulfillment, his body greedy with the need for some kind of release. Desire followed the knife as it marked his arms, his chest, his buttocks, and finally his thighs. When Ares placed the flat of the blade against the length of mortal's aching cock, Iolaus couldn't help the way he thrust against it.
*Who would have imagined this?* Ares thought. *Hercules, you don't know what you're missing.* He backed off and looked at his victim. Thin streaks of blood ran from the knife wounds and every muscle in the mortal's body was tense with desire. Suddenly impatient, the god waved his hand.
Iolaus was aware of a moment of disorientation and then realized that he was bound to Ares' throne. His face rested on the red cushion on the seat and his arms were somehow cuffed to the arms of the throne. His knees were bound to the foot of the throne in a way that left his legs spread. Even his ankles were securely cuffed to the dais that the throne rested on. He turned his head, feeling velvet against his cheek and braced himself for the worst.
However, it was the knife first, this time traveling down the length of his spine to his tailbone. Then a hot tongue lapped at the blood on the small of his back and he moaned and arched his body. Again the knife marked him, this time a series of lines on his right buttock and then another series of lines on the left one. Again and again, Iolaus told his body not to respond and again and again he did respond, twisting and moving and begging silently for more. He was humiliated at his loss of control, humiliated that his body could so readily betray him. He wished himself anywhere else and thought of Hercules, but no . . . he couldn't bear the thought of Hercules seeing him like this.
When Ares finally put the knife down, the god wasn't thinking about his disappointment with the scene anymore. In fact, he wasn't thinking of much but his need to fuck the body in front of him. Between the thin rivulets of blood that ran down Iolaus' pale skin, the way the man was moving, and just the *look* of him tied to the throne like that, Ares was more eager for it than he had been in a long time. Grabbing a bottle of oil that hadn't been there a moment ago, the god moved in and knelt between Iolaus' bound legs.
"I'll have to thank Aphrodite," Ares murmured, leaning over Iolaus and whispering in his ear. The god caressed Iolaus' ass and nipped at the man's ear. "I love the fact that you're here, hating me, while your body wants me." As if to illustrate his point, he slid an oiled finger into Iolaus and chuckled as the mortal groaned and pushed back against him. "You're so eager for it," the god teased, moving another finger roughly inside.
Iolaus moaned again as the clawing tension that had built up in his body seemed to focus on his ass and Ares' fingers. *Only my body,* he told himself. *It's only my body; I don't *want* this.* Even that thought was hard to bear, and when, after a few moments, Ares' movements stilled, Iolaus felt a second of relief. Ares had three fingers buried inside him, but at least he'd stopped moving them. The relief didn't last, as Iolaus felt himself thrust back against Ares' hand. He heard a smothered groan behind him and then Ares' fingers withdrew.
"If you want it that badly, then I'm going to give it to you," the god said, and Iolaus felt something larger than fingers rest against his anus. To his shame, he arched his hips and slid his knees open a little further in invitation, and he cried out in mingled pain and pleasure as Ares' cock slowly moved into him.
Ares grabbed Iolaus' hips, slipping a little on the blood there. Once more he bent over the man's back and, finding the place he had bitten earlier, latched onto it again with his teeth, as he began to thrust into Iolaus a little faster and a little harder. Iolaus moved with him, matching each thrust and for a moment Ares forgot himself. He could feel muscles move under the skin of the mortal beneath him, smell the blood and the sweat, taste the skin in his mouth. It felt like combat and smelled like a battlefield, and Ares let it all roll over him as he got ready to take everything he could from Iolaus. The god rarely had lovers who could keep up with him, and he couldn't remember the last time he'd had one who, as Iolaus did now, encouraged him to do more.
Of course, Ares remembered, it was only the man's body that was working to encourage Ares to fuck him harder. As the god obliged, digging his fingers with bruising strength into Iolaus' hips, he wondered what sex with Iolaus would be like if the mortal actually wanted it with both body *and* mind. It would never happen, at least not with Ares, and, in anger and lust the god moved again to whisper into his victim's ear.
"I know you don't really want this," he breathed, "and that's just fine with me. But I want you to think about how much your body likes this, how you're moving to get more of me inside you, how the pain made you hard. Think about how good it could be with someone you actually care about." He bit at Iolaus' ear and smiled at the man's loud groan of pleasure. "Maybe someone like Hercules . . ."
Iolaus yelled as, for a moment, his mind was in perfect tune with his body.
It was as if his eyes opened for the first time and the force of the revelation washed over him in a wave of blinding light. If this were Herc behind him, fucking him like this, he would have everything he'd ever wanted, everything he'd craved for so long and so deeply inside himself it had never penetrated to his conscious attention. And it would never happen; he was sure of that. *Damn you Ares!* he thought futilely. *Damn you for making me face that! Damn you, damn you, damn you . . .*
Ares moved off Iolaus' back and into a position that allowed him to thrust even harder into the man beneath him. Iolaus was yelling incoherently now, cursing and begging for more at the same time, and, as Ares continued to fuck him, his neck arched back. Fascinated, Ares reached out a hand and grabbed a handful of gold curls.
Still thinking of Ares' words, Iolaus screamed and felt himself moving nearer to the edge. He didn't want to come; somehow to do so would be a surrender to this whole experience. Unfortunately, he realized, as his climax moved closer and closer, like it or not, he *was* going to come from this. His body didn't care about hate or torment; all his body knew was that it was getting fucked hard. And even his mind was in on the act, as Ares' words echoed in his head. *Someone you actually care about . . . someone like Hercules . . .* Knowing that it was useless to try and fight the orgasm any longer, Iolaus fought it anyway. But then a hot hand slid around his hip to roughly stroke his cock, and that darkly sinister voice was talking to him again.
"Come for me now, mortal," the god commanded and Iolaus couldn't help himself any more. He screamed and his orgasm slammed over him roughly as Ares thrust into him one more time. As he continued to climax, Iolaus had a vague notion that Ares was yelling and coming as well, but almost all of his attention was involved in the waves of fire that radiated from his cock and ass and washed out across is whole body. Finally, panting and gasping, they both went limp, Ares a heavy weight on Iolaus' back, pushing him into the throne.
Into the silence of the temple, a voice spoke, or rather roared, "DAMN YOU ARES!!!"
Hercules was wondering, for the seventh or eighth time, where Iolaus was.
True, his friend had merely said that he'd meet Hercules in Corinth in time for Iphicles' celebration, but it was more like Iolaus to be early for a party. On top of it all, Hercules wanted to try to talk to Iolaus about Xena. He'd been thinking a great deal about what his mother had said to him, and he had resolved to try to talk with his friend. Now he paced the gardens of Iphicles' palace, not sure about how to bring up the subject of Xena when Iolaus *did* manage to arrive.
"Yo, Uncle Herc!" a voice out of nowhere called. Seconds later, his nephew Cupid appeared. "I've got a big problem, man."
"Oh?' Hercules asked. While Cupid was inclined to exaggerate, even Hercules had to admit that his nephew looked worried.
"It's Uncle Ares."
"Ares *is* a big problem." Hercules agreed. "What's he done now?"
"He fuckin' ripped me off, that's what." When Hercules looked curious, the young god explained. "OK, so it was my mom's charm he stole, but she lent it to me, and he took it from *my* temple, without asking. Who does he think he is, Hermes? And *I*'m the one that's going to catch all the flack from her."
"Whoa, slow down. What charm did Ares steal?"
"Well, mom likes to play with mortals, but she got tired of them falling in love with her. She'd say, 'They get all sentimental on me, and it's just *gro*-dy!'" Cupid grinned a little sheepishly, and Hercules had to smile at his dead-on imitation of his mother. Cupid continued, "So she made this charm that keeps your mind from interfering with your body--it's like your body responds, but your feelings aren't there. It's sort of weird really."
"And Ares took it?" Hercules frowned. "Are you sure it was Ares? Why would he want something like that? Maybe it was Autolycus."
"No man, it was Ares! I was foolin' around with my new girlfriend, and all the guys and their chicks were drunk and out of it, but one of my buds woke up a little and saw him. And what's more, he's using the charm on Iolaus."
"What?!" Hercules grabbed Cupid's arm. "Where is Iolaus, Cupid? What is Ares doing to him?"
"They're at Ares' temple, the big one." Cupid looked down, refusing to meet his uncle's eyes. "I don't know exactly what's going on." When Hercules shook him slightly in annoyance, the god pulled his arm away. "Hey! I can't just go barging into Ares' temple and beat the crap out of him, you know. He could take me in a minute."
"Maybe you can't beat the crap out of him, but if he's hurt Iolaus, I'm going to do just that. Can you take me there?"
Cupid suddenly looked at Hercules intently. "Whoa!" he almost whispered. Before Hercules could get impatient and ask him to explain, Cupid raised a hand and gestured. They were standing in a courtyard before a huge black stone building.
"Lovely little place he has here," Hercules muttered. He turned to Cupid, "you should probably stay out here."
"Hey, no problem, man." As Hercules turned to enter the temple, Cupid added, "I'll be here if you need help with Iolaus later." There was something odd in his nephew's voice, but Hercules didn't have time to figure out what Cupid was saying.
"Fine, Cupid," he muttered as he headed for the doors.
From behind him he heard something that sounded suspiciously like, "get a clue," but he ignored it and pushed the great doors open.
What he saw made his heart freeze and his breath rush out of him, as if he'd taken a blow to his gut. He stood, dumbstruck and paralyzed. Iolaus was on his knees, bent over Ares' throne, and the god was raping him from behind. Hercules took in the bindings that secured Iolaus and was aghast to see that his friend was covered in blood, blood that streaked and smeared every time the god adjusted his grip on Iolaus' body. He heard Ares command, "Come for me now, mortal," and witnessed both figures yelling and bucking in orgasm.
It was only then that he could shake off his paralysis and roar "DAMN YOU ARES!!!"
Ares lightly leapt to his feet, readjusting his clothes with a wave of the hand, and remarking, "Ah. Your timing is exquisite, brother." He advanced toward Hercules and gestured back at the kneeling and gasping Iolaus, "What's the problem? I'm just giving him what you should have years ago if you weren't too clueless to figure it out."
Hercules growled and ran toward the god, taking a flying leap and striking Ares in the chest with his boot. The god staggered backward, and Hercules grabbed him by his vest and threw him with all the force he could muster. Ares crashed into a column, which shattered around him. Hercules was at Iolaus' side in a moment, hastily snapping the bindings on his arms, knees, and ankles. Iolaus collapsed forward on the throne, his head in his hands, but Hercules had to turn to face Ares, who had quickly recovered.
They closed together in a flurry of gauntleted arms. Ares delivered a solid blow to Hercules' stomach, propelling him backward. Overcome with an uncontrollable fury, Hercules picked up an iron stand topped with rings of candles and charged Ares with it, swinging it in a wide arc and knocking the god off his feet and going on in one continuous motion to smash the stand into the nearest column. Ares jumped to his feet, grinning, and punched the demigod in the jaw. Hercules was oblivious to pain at the moment, and he rushed Ares, shoving him into a shield mounted on the wall, sending both god and shield clattering to the ground. Ares drew his knife, still stained with Iolaus' blood, but Hercules grabbed it out of his hand and threw it with blazing ferocity, burying it in the wall.
Panting, Ares taunted, as he jumped to his feet, "It does my heart good to see you getting in touch with your anger like this, little brother. I should play with your toys more often--particularly since I seem to appreciate *this* one more than *you* do." Hercules drew his arm back for another blow, but Ares blocked it with his arm, then vanished, only to reappear across the temple. Ares rushed Hercules this time, but the demigod threw himself into a roll right under him, sending the god crashing into another column. Ares was partly buried under chunks of marble, and Hercules took advantage of the fact to kick him repeatedly in the stomach and then moved around to kick him in the back. He then proceeded to take out his anger on inanimate objects, breaking weapons and shields and punching holes in the stone walls.
At first he didn't notice Iolaus, who had pulled himself to his feet, trying to get his attention. "Herc! Herc! HERC!!!" he yelled. "Can we just get out of here? This isn't doing me any good."
Hercules sagged, spent and heartsick at the sight of his friend, leaning weakly on Ares' throne, his body streaked with blood, and his hair matted with sweat and with blood where the god had grabbed it. He remembered the blond climaxing with a shout, and his mind spun, unable to find purchase on any thought that made any sense to him, except the realization that he was filled with self-loathing for being too caught up in his anger to realize Iolaus needed him. "I'm sorry, Iolaus," he murmured, his face drawn with pain.
He pulled a heavy chunk of marble off of Ares, and yanked the god to his feet. "Ares," he demanded, "I want you to heal all of his wounds *now*, or I'll trash this place so thoroughly you'll still be cleaning it up by the time you're obsolete." When the god hesitated, Hercules grabbed him by his vest with both hands, hauled him forward and ordered, "Do. It."
Ares sighed extravagantly and waved his hand carelessly, instantly healing Iolaus' injuries, cleaning him up, and restoring his clothes at the same time, commenting, "Fortunately for me, healing them doesn't take away the pleasure I got in inflicting them."
Hercules kicked the god's feet out from under him, letting him drop on his tailbone. He then went over to Iolaus, put an arm around his shoulder, and said "C'mon buddy."
Ares had gotten up, and was rubbing his tailbone and laughing. "Buddy? That's rich." He dropped gracefully onto his throne, still laughing as Hercules and Iolaus went out, until he was brought up short wondering what Hercules had meant by "obsolete."
Cupid was still waiting outside, pacing nervously. "Is there anything I can do, Uncle Herc?" he asked, avoiding looking at Iolaus.
"No, Cupid, nothing. But thanks for your help in getting me here," said Hercules wearily.
Cupid gestured to the gold bracelet still on Iolaus' wrist. "Um, I gotta get that back to Mom, or she'll have me for breakfast."
Iolaus started suddenly, shuddering at the sight of the bracelet. "Here, take it!" he gasped.
Cupid removed it, feeling extremely uncomfortable. "Well, Uncle Herc, Iolaus, I gotta split." He took off, much to the relief of both men.
Hercules turned to Iolaus, taking both of his hands between his own larger ones. "Iolaus . . . gods . . . what can I do?"
Iolaus freed his hands and gave an edgy shrug. "Hey, he fixed me back up. I'm as good as new."
Hercules shook his head slowly. "It doesn't work that way, my friend. It's not that easy. What would you like?"
Iolaus looked down at the ground, kicking at one spot in the dirt repeatedly with one foot. "You're right, Herc. I'd like to go home--and could you stay with me for a while? I . . . don't want to be alone."
"As long as you need, and whatever you need," said Hercules gently, placing a hand on his shoulder.
They began walking in strained silence. Every so often one of them would look at the other as if about to say something, but would then change his mind and remain mute. Both were lost in thoughts of the feelings for each other they'd been forced to face, and both were afraid that the other didn't reciprocate the feelings. Hercules was still stunned with the revelation it had been to him. He'd known as soon as he opened the temple doors and seen Iolaus kneeling and being taken by Ares--*his* Iolaus--and it was the first time he'd thought of Iolaus in that way. When Ares had taunted him about his feelings for his friend, he had been furious in more ways than he could imagine: furious with Ares for hurting Iolaus, furious with himself for not realizing his own feelings, furious with Ares for making him face those feelings, furious with himself for not protecting Iolaus better . . . and, he had to admit, he was furious that Iolaus had responded to what Ares was doing to him. And now . . . he didn't know what to do or to say. He didn't know how to help his friend recover from being raped, and he didn't know if there was any point to ever expressing his newly-discovered feelings. As a matter of fact, he felt pretty useless, only good for throwing his weight around. And at the same time, the picture of Iolaus, kneeling, bound, and bloody, with Ares pumping into him, kept etching itself deeper into his mind.
Iolaus was similarly lost and baffled. He felt perfectly fine physically, so he thought he should feel fine emotionally too. But he didn't. He was horrified remembering how his body had betrayed him, how much it had craved Ares' rough ministrations. And he was horrified at the thought of how much certain things Ares did had turned him on, just by their nature. He knew he liked being *done* to--Xena had taught him that--but he hadn't realized how entirely he wanted to be used and possessed. If Hercules were to take him like that . . . slap him across the face--his cock stirred at the thought--no it would never happen, so why torture himself? Hercules would never reciprocate his feelings, and he would be repulsed by the nature of Iolaus' desires. It was hopeless . . . or was it?
Finally, Iolaus broke the silence. "Um . . . Herc . . . what he said in there . . . about us, I know it wasn't true. So let's just forget it, OK?"
Hercules felt a cold hand clutch him inside his gut. He had been hoping that maybe, just maybe, Iolaus felt the way he did, but he obviously didn't and was eager to put Ares' reckless claims behind him. In response, he uttered a curt, "Yeah."
*Well, that's it, then,* thought Iolaus to himself. He had held out a slight hope that Hercules would confess that Ares had spoken truly, but Hercules' curt response indicated that Ares' words were, in fact, the farthest thing from the truth--where Hercules was concerned. What good was it to learn who the love of your life was, if you could never have him? And Hercules had seen him--like that--degraded and violated and by all appearances loving every second of it.
Iolaus stumbled, his vision blurry. Hercules turned to him, all thoughts of his own desires gone. "Iolaus . . . " he began.
"No!" exclaimed the blond. "I'm fine. Really."
"Iolaus," Hercules said gently, "I'm your *friend*. Please. Don't feel you have to bottle it up inside you. Let me help you. Let it out." He gestured to a fallen log, and sat down, patting the log beside him. Iolaus sat down hesitantly, still fighting tears, but finally gave in to all the pain that was sweeping through him. Hercules put a strong arm around his shoulder, pulled him close, and let him sob. With the floodgates opened, Iolaus finally realized that what he needed was to be taken care of. Regardless of all the baggage between them now, Herc was still his best friend, someone who would offer all he had including his life for Iolaus. He *had* to be able to trust someone now--he felt stripped bare, raw, and exposed, and he had to accept the help Hercules offered.
Iolaus pressed closer to the muscular body of his friend, clutching Hercules' shirt in one hand. The arm around him was strong and warm, and he gratefully leaned into it. As the flow of tears began to abate, the flow of words started. "At first . . . I was just . . . scared . . . mad too . . . I figured out . . . why he chose *me* . . . so it would bother you . . . of course . . . but he wants Xena back, you know . . . he's not going to let her go that easy . . . I talked back to him . . . and he slapped me . . . but after he put that thing on me . . . it felt good . . . I . . . tried everything I could think of . . . you know . . . to get rid of my hard-on . . . but it was like it had its own mind . . . well, more than usual," Iolaus laughed harshly. "I . . . *hated* him . . . I loathed him . . . and my body wanted . . . more . . . and . . . more . . . even the knife . . . I'd be *hating* him . . . and my body . . . kept *reaching* for him . . . wanted to come like you wouldn't believe . . . I . . . had no control . . . at all . . . and it felt . . . so . . . good . . . and I hated it too . . . ." Here he burst into renewed tears at the thing he couldn't say--that he would have loved that loss of control if he had been in the hands of someone he could trust, that someone being Hercules. He continued, "Hated it . . . because it was *him* . . . so degrading . . . like I was invaded everywhere . . . none of my body was . . . my own . . . and you had to see me that way!" At this point, words failed him, and he sobbed even more strongly, while Hercules wrapped both arms around him and just held on.
In the safety of those arms, Iolaus cried and mourned what had been taken from him. Hercules' lips were pressed to his hair, and he was rocking him gently. He murmured soothingly, "I'll take care of you, whatever you need, keep you safe, give you all the time you want. I'll help you through this any and every way I can."
When the tears subsided, Iolaus looked up at Hercules pitifully and asked, "Take me home?" Hercules helped him up, put an arm around him, and they continued on their way. He gratefully climbed into his bed at home and somewhat grumpily accepted the broth Hercules pressed on him. He didn't want to sleep alone, and Hercules slipped into the bed beside him, putting an arm around him, so that Iolaus could curl up with his head on his shoulder.
He was troubled with nightmares, but whenever he got agitated, Hercules would stroke his hair and soothe him until he fell back asleep. Hercules did not sleep much himself. His brain roiled with turbulent emotions--rage at Ares, concern for Iolaus, fear of his own inadequacy in this situation, and the torment of being convinced his love was not reciprocated. *Iolaus needs a *friend* right now,* he reminded himself. *That's all that matters.* Looking down at the lithe body in his arms, he felt an overwhelming tenderness come over him, and it brought tears to his eyes.
Ares had won, he thought dispiritedly--he had hit on the precise way to hurt his half-brother the most, and that was because he understood Hercules' feelings for Iolaus much better than Hercules himself had. He also mourned. He knew Iolaus was resilient and would recover, but it was as if the door he'd always wanted to open had been opened for just a sliver of light to come through and then been slammed shut again.
He also had some concern for Xena. From what Iolaus had said, it was evident she'd been a favorite of Ares, and he knew that his role in Xena's redemption was one more cause for a grudge against him by his half-brother. Having made love to her probably made it worse, he reflected, and he wondered if it was that that had spurred Ares to take such a terrible revenge by raping Iolaus. But Hercules refused to blame himself for Ares' actions. He was more concerned about the temptations the war god would undoubtedly offer the warrior princess to get her back in his camp. He hoped that what he'd read in her eyes and her heart was accurate--that she'd have the strength and will to resist all calls back to her darker side.
Iolaus proved indeed resilient. After a few days of lying around and letting himself be taken care of, which Hercules did thoughtfully and tenderly--holding him when he cried, soothing him when he had bad dreams, and bringing him his favorite treats prepared by Alcmene--, Iolaus announced he was restless and wanted to go kick some butt. Fortunately an opportunity presented itself in the form of a contingent from an army that belonged to a warlord named Draco, who had been raiding villages for slaves and supplies.
Hercules and Iolaus travelled to the next village along Draco's route, helped the villagers set up some defenses, and cut a wide swath through the army when it arrived. Hercules flung soldiers across the village square, cracked heads together, and turned soldiers' own weapons against them, knocking down four or five men at a time with a single swing of a spear. Iolaus fought like a fury, his body in continuous edgy motion, dropping soldiers with spinning kicks and solid punches, and wielding his sword with focused intensity.
He and Hercules then began fighting back to back, with their seamless choreography developed over years together and fine tuned by their impeccable reading of each other's movements and nonverbal signals. Iolaus would duck and kick out, upending one attacker, while another sailed over him only to collide with the demigod's fist. Hercules pulled Iolaus over his back, and Iolaus kicked two attackers in the face at once, before landing on his feet. Hercules leapt in the air, his legs out in front of him, to avoid a slashing sword, and Iolaus disarmed the attacker with a kick to his wrist before Hercules landed again and kicked the soldier halfway across the village square. Several men were rushing them at once, and Hercules bent over, so that Iolaus could roll across his back, lashing out with his feet. Iolaus had drawn his sword and was fighting his way through a group of soldiers, while Hercules heard footsteps behind him and smashed his fist backward into first one and then the other soldier's face.
Whenever Iolaus had a second to glance up, he watched Hercules fight, his chestnut hair whipping around his face as he whirled, and his teeth bared in ferocious concentration. As the demigod picked up a staff and swung it wide circles, knocking soldier after soldier off his feet, Iolaus sighed. He'd never realized before how exciting it was to watch Hercules fight. If he hadn't been so busy, he would have found it downright arousing. He had always admired Hercules' strength and power, but now he found it utterly intoxicating. Hercules' yell of "Heads!" broke his reverie, and he ducked and rolled under the trajectory of a spear that was zooming toward him. Instantly, he was back in action, duelling fiercely with his sword, and spinning around to kick attackers approaching from behind.
Grabbed by two soldiers, he flipped backward and out of their grasp, then dived into a swift roll so as to collide with and upend a soldier who was about to set a thatched roof alight with a torch. Iolaus caught the torch as it flew out of the man's hands, doused it in the dirt, and then began wielding it as a finely-balanced club. Hercules reached up and caught an arrow that was whizzing toward him, glancing at Iolaus with every opportunity. He was captivated by his friend's lithe quickness, agility, and dexterity. And then there was the way those golden curls reflected the sunlight . . . Almost abstractedly, he smacked soldiers with lazy blows of his fists and half-strength kicks.
At this point, Draco's men had had enough. A retreat was called, and the ones left standing ran stumbling out of the village. Iolaus kicked one retreating soldier in the rear, yelling, "Don't let the gates hit you in the ass on the way out!" Hercules was just beaming, gazing on his friend with unabashed affection and delight. Iolaus turned toward him, and his face lit up with a sparkling grin. "I needed that," he laughed.
Hercules was leaning back against a wall, his arms folded across his chest, still beaming proudly. "You were a sight to behold," he said fondly. "When you stopped that guy from lighting that fire . . . "
The village mayor invited them to the tavern for a free meal, which they accepted. It was the first time Iolaus had felt at all sociable, and he determined to take advantage of it. While he drank ale and downed a filling meal, he kept wondering at the open and delighted smile he had seen on Hercules' face when the fight was over. Did Herc feel more for him than friendship, after all? *Naw,* thought Iolaus, *he's probably just glad I'm feeling better.*
Hercules dreamed he was circling a standing Iolaus, bound with his arms above his head. He was roughly claiming Iolaus' body as his property, stroking his hands firmly down the blond's bound arms, down his back and sides, and grasping handfuls of ass and squeezing hard. He then clamped his hand around the front of Iolaus' throat and latched onto the spot where his shoulder met his neck with his teeth, biting and sucking it until he left a swelling, purple bruise. Then he was pushing inside of Iolaus, while his fingers gripped Iolaus' nipples hard. Iolaus was moaning as Hercules pounded into him, immobilizing him with the strength of his arms . . .
He woke up, startled out of his dream by sound. Iolaus was sitting up in the bed, his face in his hands, crying and trying to stifle the sound. Still groggy, and shocked at his dream, which in his half-awake state he associated with Iolaus' tears, Hercules was overwhelmed by a wave of guilt. Had he done anything to Iolaus in his sleep? "Iolaus," he asked tentatively, "what is it?"
"I . . . I thought I was better," Iolaus answered brokenly. "I felt so good yesterday. But this morning . . . I must have been dreaming about Ares . . . I thought I heard his voice in my ear . . . and I woke up and saw you, and I thought of you seeing me like that--how can you stand to be around me?"
"You're my best friend," said Hercules gently, lightly stroking Iolaus' hair, afraid to touch him anywhere else. "Nothing Ares did has changed that." *At least not in the way you think it has,* he added silently to himself.
"But he degraded me. I'll never be myself again."
"No!" exclaimed Hercules urgently. "He didn't change who you are. He didn't change how I see you." The demigod inwardly cursed himself, thinking, *He would hate me if he knew I dreamed of him like that.*
Iolaus sighed and whispered, "He changed how I see myself. I keep thinking it was my fault."
Hercules turned to him and took his hands carefully between his own. "Iolaus, listen to me. Look at me. It. Was. Not. Your. Fault. He forced you, *and* he used a charm on you, and he's a *god*, Iolaus. There was nothing you could do to resist him."
Iolaus nodded half-heartedly. He was thinking of how much he wanted to surrender himself to the man he loved and how horrific it was to have his will taken away from him by force. But he couldn't explain all of this to Hercules. "You're right," was what he finally said. "I just can't get the memories out of my mind."
"I don't know how to help you with that," said Hercules helplessly. "But time *will* diminish the pain. You can't expect to be better all at once. We *will* get you through this."
"I just feel like such a burden on you," muttered Iolaus bitterly. "I can't even take care of myself. I'm afraid to sleep by myself."
"You don't *have* to take care of yourself," said Hercules emphatically. "And you're *not* a burden. Friends take care of each other. Please don't push me away because you think you should be over this by now."
Iolaus hated feeling so needy, but he craved comfort. He wanted so much more from Hercules than just being held, but he would settle for whatever contact he could get. He looked up into the demigod's soft, guileless blue eyes and asked, "Will you hold me?"
"Of course," said Hercules, wrapping his arms around Iolaus and pulling him close. "And please don't feel bad about asking for help." Hercules paused, then continued, "You have to understand that *none* of this is your fault. Being . . . my friend makes you a target. That's how the gods operate," he noted in disgust. "Maybe I shouldn't have let anyone close to me in my life, but I can't live like that. And now I have to live with knowing my best friend was hurt because of his connection with *me* . . ."
"Herc . . . " Iolaus interjected.
"No, let me finish. And *I* probably brought this on, inadvertently, because of Xena."
"Yeah," said Iolaus, still pressing close to Hercules. "When he mentioned her, I figured he had more than a casual interest in her, and he grabbed me . . . because I was safe," he finished darkly.
"I should have realized Xena was a favorite of his," said Hercules.
Iolaus looked up to him with clear blue eyes. "And if you had, Herc, it wouldn't have made any difference. You would have done exactly the same thing--the *right* thing. You've never let worrying about what the gods might do stop you before."
Hercules nodded, his face drawn with pain. "But because of me, you got hurt."
Iolaus said quietly, "It's not the first time, my friend, and it probably won't be the last. I long ago accepted the risks of being your partner. It's just . . . hard right now. But you're right; we'll get through this . . . eventually."
A few more days passed in which Iolaus fluctuated between feeling almost like his old self and feeling depressed and dispirited. He remained afraid to sleep alone and deeply ashamed of his fear, but Hercules was so gentle and matter-of-fact about it, that Iolaus felt more at ease about asking for the support he needed.
For his part, Hercules would stay awake for a while each night, holding Iolaus in his arms, reverently contemplating every detail he could see: the tangled mane of golden curls; the curve of an ear, set off with a gold earring; the slope of the cheekbone down to the line of the jaw; the enticing lips; the tempting throat; the knotted hardness of biceps and the swelling firmness of pectorals; the brown, alert nipples; and the flat abdomen and lean waist tapering under the covers. How had it taken him so many years to realize how beautiful Iolaus was, he would wonder. And why had it taken *Ares* to force him to realize his own feelings?
At first, Hercules had tried to fight the feelings of not only desire, but the desire to *possess* that Iolaus inspired in him. Then he stopped fighting them. What did it matter? Iolaus regarded him as a friend, nothing more, and Hercules decided it didn't matter whether he wanted Iolaus as his lover, or whether he wanted to own him as well. Either way, he had to keep his desires to himself. At first, he had thought his possessive yearnings made him no better than Ares, but in the quiet nights, with time to reflect, and with Iolaus' head on his shoulder, Hercules came to understand that this was something altogether different. His feelings for Iolaus mingled love, friendship, admiration, and respect, and he would never force him to do anything against his will.
One morning he thought to help Iolaus' mood with a change of scene and proposed a short fishing trip. Iolaus looked skeptical, but Hercules assured him, "I'll fish the conventional way, OK?"
Iolaus agreed, and they set off to a spot about half a day's hike from home. At first Hercules felt impatient sitting on the bank of the stream, holding a fishing pole, when he could easily wade into the water and grab as many fish as they might need, but he reminded himself the purpose of this expedition was relaxation. Iolaus looked content, staring meditatively at the water, and Hercules decided to relax too and settled himself in a more comfortable position. The breeze ruffled his hair and whispered under the chamois of his shirt, the sun sparkled on the water in brilliant bursts, and the stream rushed and rippled and sang in a soothing voice.
Hercules began really to relax, and he glanced at Iolaus, seeing his body unmarked by the tension with which he had been holding himself since Ares' assault. They sat mostly in silence, the myriad things they wanted to say to each other receding slightly under the calming influence of a peaceful day. Somehow, whenever Hercules turned to gaze at Iolaus, Iolaus was staring straight in front of him, and somehow, whenever Iolaus turned to gaze at Hercules, Hercules also didn't notice. Their only real conversation that day consisted of practical details about building a fire and cooking their catch. Iolaus was tired and went to sleep early, reassured by the presence of the demigod beside him. For his part, Hercules brooded, his elbows propped on his knees and his chin in his hands.
His musings were interrupted by the sound of wings and the sight of Cupid landing near him. Hercules glanced at Iolaus, and Cupid said, "Don't worry. I'll make sure he doesn't wake up till I'm gone. Can we talk a little, Uncle Herc?" Hercules got up and walked a few paces away and sat down again, and Cupid dropped beside him. "Listen," he said, "I wanted to apologize again. I shouldn't have let that charm out of my sight, but I flaked, and Iolaus got hurt . . . "
"Hey," said Hercules. "Don't blame yourself. Yes, you should have kept an eye on that thing, but what happened to Iolaus isn't your fault. Ares would have done it anyway. All your charm did was let him go about it differently than he usually does," he concluded, his face briefly twisting with fury.
"Well, I'm sorry it happened, man. But there's something else I wanna talk to you about. When are you going to chill and do something about your feelings for Iolaus?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Hercules, his voice tight.
"Uncle Herc, please. You could fool yourself for *years*, man, but you can't fool me. I'm the god of *love*, dude!"
"All right!" snapped Hercules. "You're right, but I can't *do* anything about it. He's made it very clear he doesn't feel that way about me, and I'm not going to do anything that will get in the way of our friendship."
Cupid laughed uproariously. "Uncle Herc, you are *so* without a clue! Iolaus has got it as bad as *you* do, man. I couldn't give it to him worse with one of my arrows. He thinks *you*'re the one who doesn't want *him*."
Hercules had grabbed Cupid's arm. "*Don't* joke about this, Cupid. It's not funny."
"Let go, dude!" exclaimed Cupid, rubbing his arm when Hercules released it. "I'm *not* joking, Unc. This is the *real* thing, and if you don't go for it, you'll be the biggest dork this side of the river Styx."
"You're serious?" asked Hercules, hope beginning to dawn deep inside him.
"Cross my heart," said Cupid. "Yes, Uncle Herc, I'm serious. He's scared the same reason you are--he thinks you don't feel that way about him, and he thinks that you'll be grossed out by exactly what he *does* want, which happens to be the same thing you want. He's yours for the taking, man, and man, does he want to be taken! I was hoping one of you guys would figure it out and say something, but you're like totally reading each other's minds and totally wanting the same thing, and both too chicken to say anything. Shit, man!" he concluded disgustedly.
Hercules' heart was racing, and his cheeks flamed with an onrush of blood. "If you're not telling me the truth . . . " he began to threaten.
"Yeah, you'll pull my wings off a feather at a time, what-*ev*-er. I'm not fucking with you, Uncle Herc, especially after what happened. And I *know* what I'm talking about here. I was right about *you*, wasn't I?"
"OK, sorry!" gasped Hercules. "What should I say to him? Where do I start?"
"Hey!" said the young god, standing up. "I'm not going to do *all* the work for you, dude. But here's something that'll help later--you ought to travel more prepared. Later!"
"Thank you, Cupid," whispered Hercules wonderingly, not really recognizing the significance of what appeared in his hand, as his nephew flew off. He walked over to where Iolaus was sleeping, dropped onto his knees and murmured under his breath, "I love you, I love you, I love you, and I want you to be *mine*." He spent the night gazing at his friend and wondering what to say and how to say it.
When Hercules awoke it was mid-morning. His breakfast was waiting for him, and Iolaus was sitting on the bank, a fishing pole loosely held in his hands. Hercules still didn't know what to say, so he settled on "Good morning."
"Well, aren't we lazy today?" called back the blond cheerfully.
"I'm on vacation," grumbled Hercules, sitting up to eat some breakfast. He then sat down next to Iolaus with his fishing pole. He had no idea where to start, and he had to fight to stop himself from glancing over to stare at Iolaus every minute. Every so often, he'd open his mouth to speak, but realize there were no words waiting there. His stomach twisted with anxiety and suspense, and he suddenly snapped his fishing pole with nervous fingers.
"Whoa, Herc, what's up?" asked Iolaus.
Suddenly a calm certainty settled on the demigod, that calm certainty that always pervaded him when he knew he was doing the right thing. He moved right next to Iolaus, deliberately removed the fishing pole from his hands and set it aside, took Iolaus' hands in his own, and looked directly into his eyes. "What's up," said Hercules, "is that I love you. And that's not all. I want you to belong to me completely."
Iolaus' eyes widened, and his face lit up with a dazzling smile that took Hercules' breath away. "Really?" he gulped. "As in you mean it?"
Hercules nodded, a slow smile turning up his lips and beaming from his eyes. "Really. As in I mean it."
"But . . . how . . . when . . . tell me . . . " stammered Iolaus incoherently.
"How about I show you?" asked Hercules.
"Works for me," gasped Iolaus, short of breath and reeling inside as what he thought to be impossible was now coming true.
Hercules slid one large hand along Iolaus' muscled upper arm, then used his other hand to grasp the back of Iolaus' neck. Iolaus seemed to melt under his touch, and he tightened his grip slightly on the blond's neck, noting that Iolaus seemed to melt even more. *Interesting, Cupid must have been right,* thought the demigod to himself, as he drew Iolaus up to his mouth. As their lips came together, both were overwhelmed with the feelings that rushed over them, the predominant ones being amazement and *relief* that their long-held and closely guarded desires were being realized. Their tongues entwined as Hercules explored Iolaus' mouth, then gave way to suck Iolaus' tongue into his own.
Hercules pushed Iolaus onto his back, descending with him so as not to break their locked mouths for an instant. He wanted to touch Iolaus everywhere, but he wasn't ready to relinquish his mouth. Supporting himself on one arm, he ran his fingers through Iolaus' blond curls, noting at the same time that Iolaus' hands were firmly clamped on his waist. Still kissing and letting himself be kissed, he rubbed a curl between his thumb and forefinger, delighting in its silky feel. Then, racked by a spasm of desire, he tightened the grasp of his hand in Iolaus' hair, wrapping his fingers firmly into it and pulling against the scalp. His roughness was rewarded with a moan. As their mouths briefly parted for air, Iolaus gasped, his blue eyes wide with urgency, "Don't ever stop--please Herc--take me any way you want--but don't let go of me--please!"
Hercules' hand tightened a fraction more firmly on Iolaus' hair, and he said, breathlessly, "Does this seem like I'm letting go?" before diving in to reclaim Iolaus' mouth, drawing his lower lip into his mouth and tasting it fully before plunging in his tongue again. Iolaus sucked it ferociously. A tremor ran through his body as the demigod's large hand lightly stroked his upper arm. Wherever Hercules touched him, Iolaus could sense his strength and power humming just under the surface, and he was nearly delirious with the desire to surrender to those forces.
Hercules, at last, had to release Iolaus' mouth. With his fingertips he traced the line from the blond's cheekbone along his jaw that he had so often followed with his eyes the past several nights. He kissed and licked his way down Iolaus' neck, pausing to taste the hollow at its base with a circling motion of his tongue. *Gods . . . even his tongue is strong,* mused Iolaus to himself, feeling the pressure on his neck; *I can't wait to see what else he does with it.*
For his own part, Hercules was rediscovering the pleasures of a well-muscled male body as his hand travelled Iolaus' chest, letting his eyes and fingers feast on the firm curves and ridges straining under the flesh. He knew that Iolaus had had a series of lovers, male and female, but Hercules hadn't been with a man since before his marriage. Suddenly, his fingers latched onto one nipple, while his lips claimed the other. Iolaus groaned, pushing his hips up to meet his lover's torso, his cock straining against the confinement of his clothes. Hercules moved his hand to lay it flat on that very part of Iolaus' anatomy, pushing him back down. "Patience," he almost growled, "I'll get there in my own good time."
"Oh, yeah," Iolaus murmured to himself, and Hercules smiled to himself while worrying a nipple with his teeth. Cupid definitely *was* right, he reflected, and he was thrilled that Iolaus' desire to follow seemed to mesh so perfectly with his own desire to lead. He experimentally began twisting the nipple he had been pressing between his fingers, and a long "Ohhhhhh!" escaped the figure beneath him. Hercules sat up, so he could use both hands on those tempting nipples and have the pleasure of watching the effects of his ministrations on Iolaus' face. He pinched both nipples, applying a steadily increasing pressure, then twisted them simultaneously. He was gratified to see Iolaus writhe and moan, his lips parted and his face open and vulnerable.
*Why in Tartarus did I wait so long to do this?* thought Hercules to himself. "You're beautiful when you're aroused," he murmured huskily, then released the nipples he'd been tormenting, only to brush his thumbs across them lightly, which sent a shudder rippling through Iolaus' body. He laid a possessive hand on the organ that was still trying to burst out of its restraints. A pang of pure lust hit the demigod with the force of a blow, and he hurriedly began unbuckling Iolaus' belt and unfastening his pants, grateful that he hadn't bothered to put on his boots this morning. As he pulled everything off, Iolaus sat up slightly to shrug out of his vest. It didn't matter to Hercules that he'd seen Iolaus naked before; in the demigod's eyes, the blond was perfect, radiant. And it thrilled him to see that organ so rampant for *him*.
Hercules knelt between his lover's legs and firmly surrounded Iolaus' cock with his hand. "Oh yes, oh please," gasped Iolaus.
"Didn't I say something about patience?" asked the demigod, with an edge of mock exasperation in his voice. Iolaus' hands were clutching convulsively in the grass, and Hercules deliberately clamped a hand over each wrist, pinning them down. Iolaus emitted a strangled groan, his hips thrusting. Hercules smiled. "Of course I could just leave that beautiful cock of yours like that all day," he remarked lightly. "It's quite a sight."
"You wouldn't!" exclaimed Iolaus.
"Well, I might," said Hercules, "but not today." He scooted down so he could reach Iolaus' yearning groin with his mouth, while bringing Iolaus' arms to his sides, so he could keep his wrists pinned and immobilize his hips at the same time. There were advantages to having large hands. With his powerful tongue, he scooped up the heavy testicles, tasting and lapping at them while Iolaus almost whimpered in frustration, unable even to thrust with Hercules holding him down. Then he finally turned his attention to the throbbing erection before him. Again, he had to taste it with long sweeps of his tongue before deciding that he'd experimented enough.
He practically inhaled the whole of it into his mouth, sucking hard, and gliding the firm O of his lips up and down it. Iolaus frantically wriggled, wanting to thrust upward into the moist warmth that enclosed his cock, but Hercules held him down even more firmly. He was going to control all the sensation Iolaus received, and he was enjoying Iolaus' incoherent exclamations of "Oh! Please! Herc! Herc! Please! Oh yeah! Oh please! HERC!" As Hercules sucked even harder, Iolaus cried out as sensation boiled over in his immobilized body, bursting through his cock, and the demigod released his hips, letting him pump his seed into his mouth.
Hercules cleaned off the now limp organ with his tongue, then sat up, resting his hand on Iolaus' chest so as to feel the sharp rise and fall of his shuddering breaths before taking possession of his mouth again. Then he murmured, "I don't want to break the mood here, but I do have to ask--I want to fuck you, Iolaus--are you OK with that?"
"Thank you for being considerate, Herc, and asking," said Iolaus with a smile, his eyes shining. "And I'm telling you now that you don't have to ask any more. I'm yours for the taking. I love you."
"I love you too," said Hercules with a warm smile. "Be right back." He pulled off his own clothes, then rummaged among their gear for Cupid's present, which now that he had realized why Cupid had left it, he was a little embarrassed about, Cupid being his nephew. *But he is the god of love,* he reminded himself. "Cupid left us a handy present last night," he explained with a sheepish grin as he settled down again between Iolaus' parted knees. "He thinks we should travel more prepared."
"Well, he's right," asserted Iolaus. "From now on we should take his advice in that area."
Hercules poured a generous coating of oil from Cupid's vial on his hand, then began to tease the outside of Iolaus' puckered opening with one oil-slick fingertip, rubbing it in small circles. When he slid one finger past the tight ring of muscle, Iolaus squirmed impatiently. "Please, Herc," he begged, "I want you inside me. I've done this before, Herc! You *know* that."
"Yes, but you haven't done this before with *me*, and I'm not going to hurt you. Understand?"
Iolaus nodded, taking another look at the son of Zeus' imposing member and realizing Hercules' patience was probably a good idea. He willed his body to relax, easily accommodating another finger, and soon thereafter a third, slipping in and out of him on a thick layer of oil. Finally, he felt the head of Hercules' well-lubricated cock pressing at his anus. He shifted his body to better accommodate his lover, and Hercules simply lifted up his hips, holding them in right position. As the demigod's cock began penetrating the tight passage, Iolaus tossed his head back and forth and grabbed handfuls of grass to hold onto. The sensation was overwhelming--his anus burned and stretched and filled, sending jolts down his legs that turned them to jelly. Once all the way in, Hercules paused. "Put your legs on my shoulders," he commanded mildly, and when Iolaus obeyed, he began sliding Iolaus back and forth on his cock, gripping him tightly about the hips.
Iolaus felt like a flexible puppet in Hercules' powerful hands, and he was utterly intoxicated at being subject to such strength. He gazed raptly at Hercules' face. The demigod had his teeth bared and was emitting a series of low growls as he tossed his long chestnut hair behind him, and the cords of his neck stood out. The muscles in his arms were swelling with the effort of supporting most of Iolaus' weight, and he pulled and pushed the lithe body back and forth on his engorged organ. Iolaus was hard again too, which Hercules noticed, as he looked down at the body he was impaling. "Go ahead," said Hercules between clenched teeth. "My hands are kind of full."
Iolaus gratefully grasped his own cock with one hand, thrusting into it with each jolt of his hips. The tempo increased, and the demigod's growls escalated into a roar as he convulsed in climax, and a few moments later Iolaus stroked himself to completion. After some adjusting, Iolaus was kneeling, straddling Hercules' legs, and they were kissing between murmured "I love you's."
Thinking it was perhaps tempting fate to spend the entire day naked, hoping no one else came around, they decided to get dressed and head for home, where the privacy of a bedroom was waiting.
At first they didn't make very rapid progress. Hercules kept feeling impelled to pull Iolaus into his arms and plunder his mouth with his tongue. Iolaus didn't raise any objections, but they eventually decided that their time would be better spent travelling, so they could reach their bed sooner.
"There is something I've been meaning to talk to you about," said Hercules as they walked, "and now it's even more important that we talk about it."
"Xena?" asked Iolaus.
Iolaus nodded and said, "Maybe you better start."
Hercules replied, "OK, I will. When you and Xena first went off together, I thought it just bothered me because we didn't know anything about her, and I was worried I'd lose you as a friend. But it was really tearing at me, much more than it should have. At that point, I had no real reason to suspect anything of her. Now it makes sense. I *was* jealous. Of her. I wanted you to look at me the way you looked at her. I wanted to be the one you spent a week in bed with. I don't know why I couldn't admit that to myself."
Iolaus responded, eagerly. "The same thing happened to me, Herc. I thought I was jealous of you when you and Xena got together. I couldn't imagine it was anything else. She was so . . .well . . . incredible, and I kept having visions of her doing things with you she'd done with me. I was still mad at her for making a fool of me, and mad at myself for letting her, and mad at you for falling for her. But that wasn't the thing that was really eating away at me. I was jealous of *her* for being with *you*."
"I have to be honest with you about her," said Hercules. "I'll always have feelings for her. Damn it, I'll always love her. We did recognize something in each other that lies very deep. But she's not meant to be my partner any more than I'm meant to be hers. We could never stay together, and she knew that before I did. *You*'re the one I want to spend my life with."
"I understand about Xena," said Iolaus wryly. "That's not important now. When Ares said what he did about my feelings for you, it was unbelievable. I've never had that same feeling of being struck with a thunderbolt before. Everything just fell into place." Now finally released, the words tumbled out in a torrent. "Ever since we were kids, there's always been this edge to my friendship with you, this dark shadow. I could never put my finger on it. At my most insightful, I figured it was envy--I'd never be as strong as you, I'd never get the recognition you did, yadda, yadda, yadda. I'd be kidding myself if I didn't feel that sometimes, but it never accounted for that . . . shadow that was hovering. It didn't even occur to me that my feelings toward you were more than friendship, loyalty, and brotherhood. I thought my friendship for you was so strong because my own family was so useless, and you represented family to me, a brother and a best friend. But I was always wanting more without even recognizing what I wanted. And that feeling of wanting became so familiar, so much a part of me, that I learned to ignore it or pretend it meant something else. I don't know what it means that it took *Ares* to make me see it."
Hercules gently enclosed one of Iolaus' hands in his. "It means we're pretty clueless, both of us. But the feelings are real for all that. I love you, Iolaus."
"I love you too, Herc."
Hercules looked about to say something more but was hesitating. Iolaus gently laid a hand on his arm and asked, "What is it, Herc? There's more on your mind."
Hercules nodded, then looked hard at Iolaus. "I wasn't too rough with you, back there, was I? I don't want to do anything to you that will hurt you or make you uncomfortable."
Iolaus grinned, blushing slightly. "No, you weren't too rough, Herc. Far from it. I guess . . . I have both Xena and Ares to thank for showing me that . . . I want to be . . . taken . . . owned . . . overwhelmed. What was so awful about Xena using me like that and even worse about . . . what Ares did . . . was realizing how much I wanted to be with someone I could *trust*, y'know? Someone I could give myself to." Another self-deprecating grin broke out on Iolaus' face. "Your strength really turns me on, Herc. I just want to *lose* myself in knowing you can do whatever you want with me--but it's not just that. I can *trust* you, Herc--I can let you all the way in. I was just so afraid you'd be disgusted if you know I wanted that."
Hercules felt it was time for a grand gesture. He swept Iolaus up in his arms and brought his mouth to his own. Then he smiled, also somewhat embarrassed. "And *I* was afraid of how possessive I've been feeling towards you, how much I wanted to make you *mine*. I thought it would frighten you, especially after what happened."
Resting in the comfortable strength of the demigod's arms, Iolaus shook his head. "It's entirely different, Herc. Ares forced me; he took something from me that wasn't his to take. And it was . . . so hard . . . because I realized I wanted to give that to *you*."
"You will," said Hercules with quiet emphasis. "You're still *you*, and it's all of you I want."
Iolaus looked radiant, with the afternoon sun glinting off his hair, and his blue eyes flashing. "All I have to give is yours for the taking, Hercules. And I mean that with both my body *and* my soul."
Realizing they hadn't eaten since breakfast, they grabbed a quick meal in a tavern before heading for the forge. Hercules impatiently pulled Iolaus into the small bedroom and began lighting some candles for illumination. Both men were humming with impatience and nervous anticipation. "Are you ready for this?" asked the demigod, forcing patience into his voice.
"Yes," said Iolaus his eyes shining, "anything you want, any way you want me."
"Right now, I want you naked," said Hercules. Iolaus quickly complied. "On the bed, on your knees," ordered Hercules, amazed at how calm his voice was. He was shaking inside, overwhelmed by how much he wanted to do this and afraid he wouldn't be any good at it. He took a visual inventory of his lover's body, awed that all this wealth would belong to *him*. And then he realized exactly what he wanted to do, what he *had* to do.
As he laid claim to each part of Iolaus' body, he spoke, the simple words binding them together in a ritual of possession and surrender. Hercules grasped a handful of Iolaus' golden hair--"this is mine"--, pulled his head back and kissed him deeply--"this is mine"--, laid his hand on Iolaus' exposed neck--"this is mine"--, trailed his fingertips down the length of Iolaus' arms--"these are mine"--, stroked his hand down Iolaus' back--this is mine--, pinched both nipples firmly between his fingers--"these are mine"--, swept his hand down Iolaus' stomach--"this is mine"--, rested a hand on each of Iolaus' thighs--"these are mine"--, caressed and squeezed Iolaus' buttocks--"this is mine"--, drew a finger lightly along Iolaus' cleft, lingering along the entrance to his body--"this is mine"--, weighed Iolaus' balls in his hand--"these are mine"--, and circled Iolaus' cock with his big hand--"and this is mine. You belong to me now, Iolaus; all of you belongs to me."
"Yes, Hercules," whispered Iolaus, swallowing hard, almost unable to breathe. With every touch of the demigod's possessive hand, Iolaus had been more and more elated at how completely his desires were being realized and had felt himself dissolving, engulfed in the quiet certainty of Hercules' claims of ownership.
"And by the way," said Hercules with wry humor, "I don't expect you to keep your hands off every pretty young thing that throws itself in your way, but don't you ever forget that you're *my* property."
Iolaus grinned a bit shamefacedly, tossing his hair back, and answered, "I couldn't possibly forget, Herc. *This* is what I always wanted. I pledged my life to yours back when we were kids; I vowed to give you whatever support I could. I've belonged to you all along--only we didn't realize it."
"Then," reflected the demigod as he began to pull off his own clothes, "we'd better start making up for lost time."
As time passed, Iolaus' conviction that what he had with Hercules was entirely different from what Ares had done to him was confirmed again and again. Hercules' mastery did not flame out like Ares', just barely under control, but rather consumed Iolaus in a quiet, steady, inexorable, slow burn that lit up all of Iolaus' nerves, liquefied his muscles, kindled a path along all his veins to his cock, dissolved his will, and satisfied his spirit and fulfilled his desires in a way he'd never imagined truly possible. Iolaus treasured the way Hercules focused on him with an intense and childlike delight, as if he were a new and long-desired gift to be perpetually unwrapped, exclaimed over, cherished, and explored with grateful awe.
Iolaus craved dominance and control, and Hercules provided it with calm, deliberate assurance, laying a possessive hand lightly on Iolaus' neck, murmuring commands softly in his ear, and quelling Iolaus' periodic impulses of rebellion by immobilizing him effortlessly with his far-superior strength. Iolaus would inevitably relax and melt into Hercules' strong hands and blissfully allow himself to be used in whatever manner the son of Zeus desired or required of him.
For his part, Hercules was not surprised to find that Iolaus was a tease. He would return to the forge, or to the campfire when they were travelling, to find Iolaus stretched on his side provocatively, his entire body an invitation. Or in a group of people, Iolaus would catch the demigod's eye when no one else was looking and languorously twirl his tongue around the tip of his thumb or slowly slide his thumb in and out of his mouth. Hercules found himself getting aroused at the slightest of these provocations, and he always made his lover pay for them, at the first opportunity, by ordering that that tantalizing mouth be put to good use in servicing him. This, of course, was exactly what Iolaus wanted, and he felt as if there were nowhere he'd rather be than on his knees, his mouth transfixed and filled by the demigod's engorged cock. He would tease Hercules as much as he could get away with, drawing out his pleasure into a torment, enjoying the sight of his lover moaning and growling, his fingers clutching and tugging at Iolaus' blond curls, his teeth bared as in battle, the tendons in his neck standing out, and his hair being tossed restlessly, as his entire body transmitted his desperate need for release.
As they explored their relationship, moments of revelation would burst upon them, leaving them open and defenseless and exposed to each other in a way that left that both stunned. One day Iolaus had been talking back incorrigibly, when Hercules suddenly pushed him onto his knees, grasped his chin, and deliberately slapped his face, once, with his usual complete control of the strength of the blow. A lightning bolt seemed to split the air between them, enveloping them both in a crackling burst of mutual desire and incandescent lust. Iolaus' mouth had fallen open, as the heat of the slap spread across his cheek, and his eyes had shone with craving and need, while his cock sprung from half-mast to full attention.
"Whoa," said Hercules, surprised. "I *liked* that. A lot. And you've been wanting me to do that for a long time, haven't you?" he asked, watching the unmistakable evidence of Iolaus' response.
"Now where would you get that idea?" retorted Iolaus, still not done causing trouble.
"*Don't.* Talk. Back. Or *this*," said Hercules, smacking Iolaus' throbbing cock, "is going to stay unsatisfied for a *long* time. You know," he mused, while pinching the head of Iolaus' erect organ,"I also like knowing it's up to me whether you come or not."
"Uh-huh," was all Iolaus managed, swaying slightly as all his muscles turned to water. They stared at each other, two pairs of blue eyes locked together until Hercules pulled Iolaus up to his mouth with a growl, roughly crushing the blond's lips with his own, as his tongue ravished his mouth.
Hercules then turned Iolaus around bodily, positioned him on his hands and knees, and said quietly, "Stay," while he pulled off his clothes. He entered Iolaus with his usual care and plenty of lubrication, then proceeded to fuck him as slowly as he could manage, pulling almost all the way out before slowly penetrating him again.
Iolaus whimpered with frustration, but was ignored. He wanted to be filled, rammed, fucked hard. Instead Hercules kept him still with firm hands on his hips, maintaining the same steady, slow, unceasing pace. *Gods . . . he's just using me for his pleasure,* thought Iolaus to himself. The thought made him, if possible, even harder. "I'm yours," he whispered.
"Yes, you are," grunted Hercules with satisfaction, now fucking Iolaus faster and harder, as his own climax was building. With a final thrust, he filled Iolaus with his seed, then pulled out, leaving the blond aching and empty and very, very hard. Hercules proceeded to play with Iolaus for hours, tasting, biting, and sucking soft spots all over his body, teasing his nipples mercilessly with fingers and teeth, sliding his thumb into Iolaus' mouth for him to suck, kissing him endlessly, and using his mouth or his anus whenever his own desire flamed up again. He also tormented Iolaus' aching cock, smacking it lightly or teasing it with light strokes of his finger or tongue. Iolaus was writhing and squirming constantly, and Hercules held him down with firm hands on his chest, while he circled the head of Iolaus' cock with his tongue and probed the weeping slit. At one point, he looked up and, grinning at his own pun, said, "I could keep this up all night."
Iolaus moaned and begged, "Please, Herc, please. Have some mercy. Please let me come, please!"
"What if I say no?" asked Hercules quietly.
The tension drained from all of Iolaus' body except for his erect penis. He had an absolute conviction that this was his place, and here he had no control, and that was how he wanted it. Very softly, he answered, "My body is yours. If you say no, then I don't come."
Hercules' face lit up with a wide smile. "I hope you know that I realize just how incredibly lucky I am," he said. "Now brace yourself." Iolaus reached overhead for the frame of the bed, and Hercules wrapped a strong hand around Iolaus' cock and began stroking it up and down, while Iolaus' hips pumped in time to his movements. He came with a loud yell, splashing himself and Hercules with semen. The demigod wet his finger with semen and gave it to Iolaus to suck. Iolaus' mouth worked, while he closed his eyes happily, feeling well-used and well-owned by the one person he could give himself to completely.
One night, Hercules and Iolaus had returned after a day of tracking and then fighting a large gang of thieves who had raided a village treasury. They had successfully returned the money and apprehended the chief of the gang, although several members had run away during the fight. Hercules' shoulders were sore from carrying the treasury box back to the village; the cart the thieves had used had been damaged during the fight. He was lying on his stomach, while Iolaus straddled him, giving him a massage. Simply rubbing with his thumbs didn't penetrate very far into the demigod's muscles; he had literally to pound them into submission or grind his knuckles into them. It was hard work.
Suddenly Hercules rolled over, spilling Iolaus from him. His face looked deeply troubled.
"What is it, Herc?"
"You're so good to me, Iolaus. You do what I tell you, you wear yourself out making me feel good, you offer me all of yourself again and again. And it scares me sometimes," the demigod said hesitantly. "I'm scared of myself. Scared that I'm not good enough for you, that I don't deserve you, that I'll let you down."
Iolaus emitted a brief derisive snort as if what Hercules had said was self-evident, then laid his hand on Hercules' chest, right over his heart, where he could feel it thudding rhythmically. "Listen to me, Herc. I *know* you. I know you better than anyone else does. And I've seen sides of you even your family has never seen. I have never for one moment imagined that this will be easy. In fact, I'd lay odds it won't."
Hercules nodded grimly, but began to feel soothed by the contact of that warm hand over his heart. Then Iolaus let one of his heartstopping smiles flash across his face, and he said, "But that doesn't matter. I dedicated my life to you a long time ago, and I know I belong with you however you'll have me. And I *want* to belong *to* you in whatever ways you want me, in whatever ways you'll take me. Those are the certainties in my life."
"I just can't help worrying sometimes," muttered the demigod.
"Well, there's one thing you don't have to worry about," said Iolaus soberly. "I'll always be there for you, Herc, in any way I can." He paused, then added, "So why don't you take advantage of it?"
Hercules shook off his bleak mood, something he had quite a facility at doing, clasped his hands comfortably behind his head, and said, "OK, I will. Make me feel good."
Iolaus grinned, saying, "my pleasure." He sat at the food of the bed, proceeding to give Hercules a foot massage. The demigod sighed happily, while Iolaus' thumbs pressed into the balls of his feet, stroked along the arches, and rubbed the heels. Next, he found his legs being massaged, strong fingers digging into his calves and thighs. Iolaus then straddled Hercules, his hands travelling over his chest and arms, tracing the contours of pectorals and biceps, and lightly combing through the hair on Hercules' chest, while he reflected how lucky he was to have *this* body to fondle.
Seeming to read his thoughts, Hercules momentarily grasped his wrists, asking, "Are you doing this for yourself or for me, Iolaus?"
"Yes," answered Iolaus. "I want to make *you* feel good, but my hands and my mouth just *crave* touching you. I mean *look* at you--who wouldn't?"
Hercules smiled, releasing Iolaus' hands and settling back into position. "Good enough. Carry on."
Iolaus turned his attention to the demigod's nipples, circling one repeatedly with his tongue. Hercules couldn't decide what he liked more--the sensation or the sight of Iolaus' tongue pleasuring him. Hercules had a very high pain tolerance, but parts of his anatomy were more sensitive than those of ordinary mortals, and his nipples were among them. The tantalizing sensation made him grunt with pleasure. Always thorough, Iolaus lavished similar attention on the other nipple before moving down and readjusting himself so he could take Hercules' cock in his mouth, while rolling his balls in his hands. Iolaus felt Hercules grab a handful of his hair. "*Don't* tease me this time," ordered Hercules. "I want to come soon--and then I want to feel you inside me."
Iolaus nodded, not being in a position to say "Yes, Herc," his own cock growing harder at Hercules' commanding tone, and got to work, his head moving up and down as his mouth travelled along the length of the demigod's engorged shaft and his throat relaxed to take all of it in. He sucked with all his strength, and was soon rewarded with bursts of Hercules' seed spurting down his throat, as the demigod convulsed in orgasm, his pumping hips lifting off the bed.
Hercules rolled over invitingly on his stomach, and Iolaus straddled him, returning to the massage he had started earlier. When his hands got tired, he began to give the big man's back a tongue bath, starting with a long stroke up the spine, and continuing by licking along the length of ridges of muscle. He moved down so his mouth could explore Hercules' ass, biting down fairly hard on mouthfuls of flesh, knowing Hercules would appreciate the sensation and hearing him start to groan beneath him. With his tongue, he began toying with the dimple right where the tailbone meets the buttocks, when Hercules groaned louder, and demanded, "Iolaus, I want you to fuck me *now*."
Iolaus reached for a vial of oil, liberally coating his fingers and his own eager erection before sliding first one, then two fingers inside. Hercules growled impatiently, and Iolaus took this as a sign to press the head of his cock against the tight entrance. Hercules drew up his hips, affording easier access, and Iolaus' member was soon completely sheathed inside him. Hercules spread his legs wider and gasped, "Brace your arms on my back. I can support you." Iolaus complied, his hands splayed against the wide shoulder blades and his arms straight. As he began to move, and Hercules began moving his body to meet the thrusts, Iolaus could feel the muscles bunching and swelling beneath his fingers, while his cock was enveloped in the heat and friction of the demigod's body.
Hercules suddenly said, "Hold on," and raised himself up on his hands and knees, Iolaus' weight still on his body and Iolaus' cock still inside him. Iolaus settled himself on his knees, and Hercules demanded hoarsely, "I need your hand now!" Iolaus reached around to encircle Hercules' erect organ with his hand, milking it while he drove into Hercules' ass with all of his strength. Iolaus' climax washed over him first, as he pumped his seed into the hot passage that surrounded his cock. His hand on Hercules' cock moved even faster, and the demigod came with a sharp thrust into Iolaus' hand, leaving it dripping with tendrils of lustrous fluid.
Exhausted, the lovers engaged in a limited clean-up, using the cloths and the bowl of water they kept by their bed. Iolaus collapsed on his side, and Hercules curled up behind him, spoon-fashion and wrapped an arm tightly around his waist, his hand pressing against Iolaus' chest. Iolaus snuggled closer, feeling completely enveloped in the demigod's heat and strength. He murmured drowsily, "I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather be."
"Good," said Hercules, stifling a yawn, "because I'm planning on keeping you here. *My* Iolaus," he added possessively, stroking his hand down the length of Iolaus' body before returning it to his chest. "All mine."
"All yours," affirmed Iolaus, his eyes drifting shut. "I love you, Herc."
"I love you, Iolaus," answered Hercules, keeping a firm hold on his most treasured possession as he fell asleep.