The characters belong to Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures and were used without permission. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made.
You can find more stories by Aramis at Nephele's Herculean Slash page.
Hercules and Iolaus were attending a week long festival at Tripolis. They had been pleased to discover that not only were Xena and Gabrielle there as well, but they had the room next to their one.
Vulturtius, an old friend of the hunter's, was going to hold a costume party that promised to be one of the most entertaining, not to say riotous, events of the carnival and the blond was naturally keen to attend, but he had a problem: the costume. Impecunious as always, he could not afford to buy or hire an outfit and his sewing skills were non-existent.
He was racking his brains trying to think of a solution as he wandered down the inn's passage to the room that he was sharing with the demigod. He was so preoccupied that he accidentally went into the wrong room and there was his costume. More accurately, there was Gabrielle in her pink, silk nightie, hurriedly pulling a blanket over herself, but what Iolaus saw was *his* costume.
'That's just what I need,' he thought. 'I could go as Aphrodite. That would be a real laugh.'
While those pleasant thoughts were swirling through his mind, he stammered an apology and beat a hasty retreat, relieved that the Warrior Princess had not been in evidence.
Okay, that was one problem solved. He now knew where his costume was, but now he had to figure out how to get his hands on it. He couldn't ask Gabrielle for it. For one thing, she probably would not want to lend such an intimate and expensive piece of apparel and, for another, it would spoil the impact if she talked and people heard about his plans in advance. 'I'll just have to steal … I mean, *borrow* it without permission,' he decided, grinning mischievously.
He went into his and Hercules' room. The demigod was already abed. "What are you smiling like that for?" he demanded suspiciously.
"No reason." He could never have told the moralistic demigod about his plans to purloin the nightie. He hadn't even told him about the costume party because he anticipated it would be a delightfully debauched affair, having heard that the inmates of the local whorehouse were to be there as honoured guests, and he knew that Hercules would be disapproving.
Hercules mistrusted that grin. He'd seen it too often in the past not to know that it presaged mischief in the making, but he was sleepy and so let the matter drop.
When the demigod arose the next morning, the sun was already high, but the usually energetic hunter was still in bed. Hercules was keen to get outside to partake of the day's entertainments but, to his concern, found the hunter uncharacteristically reluctant to join him or indeed even to get out of bed.
"I-I'm feeling a bit tired, Herc. I think I'll have a couple of hours' extra sleep and join you later."
Hercules laid a worried hand on his friend's forehead and was relieved to find that it was cool, although Iolaus' face was rather flushed. "Are you feeling all right, Iolaus? You're not sickening for something, are you?"
"I'm fine, Herc. I'm just … ah … I've just got … um … a slight headache. I probably had a little too much to drink last night."
The latter *was* true. Iolaus usually had more to drink than the demigod approved of, especially if others were paying, as they had been the night before.
"Can I get you anything for it?"
"No, thanks! A bit more sleep will see me right. I'll catch up with you later."
So the demigod left and the hunter lay listening impatiently to the other guests gradually vacating the tavern. He did not hear either of the women's voices but, when all finally went quiet, he decided to chance it.
He got up and dressed hurriedly and then went out and tapped on the door of the next room. To his dismay, the room was not only still occupied, but a dishevelled and partially clad Xena immediately flung the door open and did not look at all pleased to see him.
"What do you want?" she demanded.
It was hardly the most encouraging of greetings and Iolaus had, unfortunately, neglected to concoct a story to account for his visit in the event that the women were still there. "G-Good m-morning, Xena," he stammered.
"It *was* until you interrupted us. What do you want?"
"I wondered … I wondered …"
"Have … Have you seen Herc anywhere?"
"No. Was he coming to see me about something?"
"Well, he's certainly not here anyway! Unlike some people, he doesn't make a habit of disturbing others. Now, go away, I'm going back to bed."
"Who is it, Xena?" Gabrielle's voice was muffled by the bedclothes.
"*Only* Iolaus and he's just leaving. You are, aren't you, Iolaus?"
He wondered what would happen if he dared to say "no", but he knew Xena was not as tolerant as Hercules so, in the interests of self-preservation, he had better not try it. "Um … Yeah … Sorry."
He retreated to his own room. 'Damn,' he thought, 'why did they choose today of all days to dally in bed?'
He knew the longer he delayed the more likely it was that the demigod would return to see if he was okay. He would probably start doing his mother hen act and begin dosing Iolaus with some of those noxious potions he was always so good at finding when the hunter was off-colour.
He headed reluctantly outside. He was only just in time, as the demigod immediately hailed him. "There you are, Iolaus. I was just coming to check on you. How are you feeling now?"
"Fine. No problems."
Hercules privately felt that the blond still looked a bit flushed, but decided not to press the issue.
The pair spent the morning wandering around the various booths, trying various games of skill. However, Iolaus seemed preoccupied and the demigod watched him with concern.
Iolaus was actually keeping a weather eye out for Xena and Gabrielle. Once he knew they were safely outside, he planned to go straight to their room. In the event, it was actually the demigod that spotted them first. "Hey, there are Xena and Gabrielle. Let's ask them to join us for lunch." He waved them over.
"I see you found him," Xena remarked.
"Oh … ah … Yeah," Iolaus replied, disconcerted by the comment.
"Found who?" Hercules queried.
"You! He came to our room looking for you a couple of hours ago."
The demigod stared at his blushing friend. "But, Iolaus, I *told* you I was coming outside to the festival."
"Oh … um … Did you? I guess … I guess I forgot."
"Iolaus, are you *sure* you're all right?" Hercules asked, his voice reflecting his solicitude.
"I'm fine! Stop bloody checking on me, Hercules. You've already asked me that twice today," he responded, testily.
"Iolaus, you know I only ask because I worry about you," the demigod said, reproachfully.
Iolaus hung his head, using his mop of golden curls as a shield. "I'm sorry, Herc," he muttered, contritely. "L-Look, I've just remembered someone I have to see. I'll see you all later." He darted off before Hercules could stop him.
"What's he up to?" Xena asked suspiciously.
"I think he's feeling sick," Hercules replied.
"Well *I* don't. I think he's up to no good. I wouldn't trust him as far as Gabrielle could throw him."
"Hercules might be right, Xena," Gabrielle protested.
"He might, but I have a feeling there's mischief in the making."
Meanwhile, the object of speculation was hastening back to the inn. He ran straight to the women's room, found the nightie in the corner of the room where Xena had flung it after removing it from her lover, and hurried off with it to his own room. He shoved the prize into his carry-bag and sat down on the bed, breathing heavily. Pinching articles from Gabrielle and so, in effect, from Xena was as scary as going up against Echidna.
It was mid-afternoon before he rejoined Hercules, as he had shadowed him from a distance until he separated from the women. He knew that the Warrior Princess was suspicious of him and didn't want her knowing eyes upon him.
He was still not scintillating company, however, because he was now thinking about the accessories he needed for his costume and wondering how to obtain them.
Around dinnertime, he spotted a couple of hetairai and remembered that Vulturtius had said that the members of the local whorehouse would be attending the function and, no doubt, making what they could from the guests during and after the party. Okay, on that basis, the madam would probably be favourably disposed towards the event and so willing to assist him.
"Ah … Herc, I … um … I have go and see that person I was meant to see this morning."
He went to hurry off, but the demigod clutched his arm and demanded, "Why?"
"I-I c-couldn't find him earlier."
"And just who is he?"
"You don't know him."
This evasive behaviour was too much. Now Hercules was starting to share Xena's suspicions and both his interest and, the truth to tell, his jealousy, were rising. "How do you know that I don't?" he questioned.
"He's just someone I knew years ago."
"Look, Herc, I'll explain later. I've got to go or I'll miss him." He jerked free from the demigod's grip.
Hercules could have stopped him, but he was reluctant to cause a scene. Instead he opted to unobtrusively follow Iolaus.
First of all, Iolaus returned to the tavern where they were staying. Hercules was hard put not to follow him inside, as he was still concerned that the hunter might actually be ill. However, after Iolaus' reaction to his last question about his state of health, he decided to bide his time.
A short time later, Iolaus emerged with his carry-bag. At first, the demigod was worried that the blond had taken it into his head to leave Tripolis, but then realized he was not carrying his sword and he would not have left that behind, so he continued to simply follow the blond.
Normally, the hunter would have twigged that he was under observation, but he was too preoccupied with his latest plan.
To Hercules' surprise, he saw his quarry disappear into the whorehouse. It seemed a most unlikely place for him to be meeting the man and also an odd place for the hunter to go as he couldn't afford hetairai and had, or so the demigod thought, made a commitment to him. Well, he certainly wasn't going to follow Iolaus in there and nor was he going to be seen by the locals watching a whorehouse. He decided, somewhat grumpily, to go and find some dinner.
Meanwhile, the little blond was being shown in to the madam's rooms. Devona, a well-preserved woman in her mid-fifties, looked at him with interest. "I suppose it's too much to hope that you're looking for work," she said.
"Sorry, no. I'm on the scrounge."
"My girls don't do freebees, but for you, pretty one, *I* might make an exception myself."
"Thank you, that's an attractive offer, but that's not actually what I came here for."
"Pity. What then?"
"I'm going to that costume party tonight and I'd like to borrow a few things."
"Sounds interesting. What are you going as?"
"Aphrodite," Iolaus said, blushing at the admission.
Devona laughed, "An excellent choice, my darling, you'll make a beautiful Goddess of Love. How can I help?"
"Well, so far all I've got is this." He pulled the nightie from his carry-bag.
"Ah, a perfect colour. Is it yours?"
Iolaus went redder than ever. "No, I-I borrowed it."
"How did you persuade the owner to let you have it?"
"Well, actually I kind of … I … Well, I didn't actually ask. I'll be returning it though," he added hurriedly.
"Yes, you have the look of a ratbag," Devona commented, appreciatively. "Let's hope the lady in question doesn't have a large husband or a gang of protective brothers."
"No, I'm safe on those counts," Iolaus said, thinking that a robbery victim with the Warrior Princess as a lover was actually a worse danger. Still it wasn't in his nature to give up on a scheme once it was underway even if it involved personal risk. "Anyway, I was hoping that you might be able to lend me a feather boa and a wig."
"I'm sure I can find something. Actually, I've got a blond hairpiece you could attach to those beautiful curls," she said, tousling his hair.
She began to rummage in a chest and soon had both items. "What are you wearing on your feet?"
"I never thought about that. 'Dite wears sandals."
"Aphrodite. I call her that and she calls me …" He broke off in embarrassment.
"And she calls you?"
"Sweet-cheeks," he admitted.
Devona laughed heartily. "Well, as to that, I'll give you my opinion when I've seen them."
"But you have!" Iolaus protested.
"No way, my darling. You might be pretty, but I know which piece of your anatomy she'll be referring to. Anyway, how come you're on nickname terms with a goddess?"
"She's my friend's sister."
"Your friend's sister?" She looked at him in disbelief and then the dinar dropped. "Hey, are you that friend of Hercules that some of the ladies have been talking about?"
"Yeah, I'm Herc's friend, but I don't know why anybody would be talking about me. No one usually notices me when he's around."
"You're wrong there. Several women have mentioned you. For one thing it seems you're a master at charming free samples off the stall-holders, batting those indecently long lashes at them and dazzling them with that smile."
Iolaus grinned ruefully. "I kind of have to be good at that. I never seem to have any money."
"And now you're here working your wiles on me."
"I s'pose so."
"No suppose about it! Never mind, you haven't lost your touch, but forewarned is forearmed and I'll take a payment in kind before I let you go. Anyway, let's get back to the matter at hand. Do you have any sandals?"
"Nope, only these boots. I suppose I'd better go barefoot."
"I'll see what I've got in my wardrobe. I doubt if your feet are any bigger than mine are. Here! What about one of these pairs?"
"The one's with the flowers look nice."
"Good choice. Now, have you actually had that nightie on?"
"Nope, I only just got it."
"Well, I think you'd better try it."
"Oh, it should fit all right. Gabrielle is probably a little taller than me, but that won't matter. I'm broader than she is, but nighties are fairly loose fitting."
"That's not what I was thinking of. You put it on and I'll show you."
Iolaus shrugged his vest off and pulled the nightie over his head. It reached to mid calf. "See it's a good length," he said.
"Take your trousers off."
"Just do it. You can't wear them underneath."
"Okay." He stripped them off.
"Now, can you see what I was getting at?"
"Well, let me put it this way, I can now see that the name Sweet-cheeks was well chosen."
"What? You mean you can see through it?" the hunter asked, aghast, as he snatched up his leathers and held them in front of him. Gabrielle had been so slick with the blanket, and he had been so engrossed in his plans, that he had not even noticed.
"I'm afraid so. I thought the garment looked fairly transparent. I take it this Gabrielle isn't an intimate friend of yours or I'm sure you'd have known."
"Damn, this isn't going to be any good then."
"Not with that breech-cloth, but I'm sure I could find you a more suitable undergarment. Anyway, aren't Aphrodite's garments fairly diaphanous?"
Iolaus grinned broadly at the thought. "Yes, deliciously so."
"Okay, then. Don't worry, I'll find something. Now what about some make-up?"
"Yes, that's a good idea. I hadn't thought of that."
In no time, they were busy experimenting. They tried a layer of white lead, but Iolaus rejected that. "Aphrodite has a more natural look," he argued.
"Okay, I'll give you a bit of rouge on your cheeks though and some cochineal to redden your lips." She then used some kohl around his eyes and on his lashes. "What about some belladonna to enlarge your pupils?"
"Will it hurt?" he asked, apprehensively.
"Of course not."
"Okay." "I'll put it in a few minutes before you're ready to go. Now, anything else?"
"Can I have pink toenails?"
"Darling, you can have red nipples if you want."
"No, that would be a bit over-the-top, even for 'Dite," he said, giggling at the thought. 'I must keep that idea in mind,' he mused. 'That would give old Herc a bit of a surprise. No, stop thinking about that, Iolaus,' he admonished himself. 'This is no outfit to have on when one is having such thoughts.'
Once both were satisfied with his appearance, Devona ordered some food be brought to them both. "You might as well stay here until you're ready to go to the party. There's no point in taking all the make up off just to put it on again," she said.
She proceeded to ply him with wine, discretely doctored with a little herbal concoction of her own that was always most efficacious in encouraging men to indulge in other pleasant pastimes. Soon he was giggly and quite pliable and happily allowed her to lead him into her bedroom to receive her 'payment in kind'.
Further, the drug-induced euphoria broke down any inhibitions he might have harboured when she offered him a pink g-string as a suitable garment to wear under the nightie.
She put the belladonna drops in his eyes, attached the hairpiece in his curls, and led him out for the other hetairai to inspect. Needless to say, the outfit, and even more the wearer of the same, was much admired and freely caressed.
The group then set off for the costume party. Their reception was all that they could have desired and Iolaus' costume caused a considerable stir.
The evening was well advanced when the trouble started. Many of the partygoers were inebriated and were starting to shed what few inhibitions they had. Iolaus was having a very pleasant time. Several of the hetairai and even some normally quite respectable women had taken the opportunity to stroke and pet him through his silky costume and he had received several 'interesting' offers of post-party entertainment.
However, unbeknownst to the hunter, he was under observation from less enthusiastic eyes.
"There! Look at that! I told you your little Sweet-cheeks was up to no good," an invisible Cupid said to his mother.
"You're right," Aphrodite replied. "He does look rather pretty, although the make-up is far too heavy, but I can't have mortals daring to poke fun at me. Sweet-cheeks needs a bit of a lesson and I know just what to do."
"What're you planning?"
"Well, when men see me they are naturally overcome with desire. I, of course, am used to that and can cope with their infatuation easily, but Sweet-cheeks may find it more of a problem." She smiled at the thought.
She picked out the three most formidable men in the room and waved her hand. Jazyges, Hermonax and Gradivus never knew what had hit them, but all three became immediately aware that there was a pretty, little blond in the room that they absolutely had to have at all costs.
Iolaus had already been coping with the odd pat and pinch from males as he moved around the room, but these minor assaults had all been committed in a joking manner and he was totally unprepared for what happened next.
He saw Jazyges bearing down upon him with a wide, lascivious grin. "You're looking beautiful tonight," he said. "I love the costume." He wrapped one arm around Iolaus and fondled his buttocks. This was a little too intimate for the blond. He started to pull away, reasoning that Jazyges had had a bit too much to drink and that there was no cause to make a real fuss.
At first, Jazyges appeared to be going to allow this. Then, without warning, the big man flung his arms around Iolaus, clutching him tightly and, bending him backward over his outstretched leg, kissed him violently. Iolaus' lips parted in surprise and Jazyges' tongue took the opportunity to insert itself. Caught off-balance by the much larger man and with his arms pinned to his sides, his struggles were, at first, ineffective.
When he did manage to break free, he stumbled back only to find himself captured by another strong pair of arms as Gradivus grabbed him, squeezed him against his chest and then sat down pulling him onto his knee. The man then let go with one arm and his free hand began to wander down Iolaus' body.
Needless-to-say, several of the partygoers were now watching with interest and none more that Hermonax, who now moved forward and said, "Leave him alone, boys. He won't want you. It's a real man he wants, isn't it, Blondie?" As he spoke, he shoved his hand between Iolaus' silk clad thighs.
That was more than enough. All thoughts of trying to extricate himself as tactfully as possible, to avoid starting a fight, disappeared. Iolaus jolted an elbow back into Gradivus' ribs causing him to release his hold. Then he then jumped up and kicked out viciously catching Hermonax in the crutch. As the man doubled over, he brought his knee up and smashed his nose.
Unfortunately the nightie was not designed for such violent activity and there was an ominous ripping sound as a side seam started to give way.
"C'mon, Iolaus," Gradivus remonstrated, climbing to his feet, "we're not trying to hurt you. Just relax and enjoy it." As he spoke, he reached for the hunter again, clutching at his shoulders.
Iolaus twisted around to face him and drove a fist into his stomach. Gradivus staggered back, still retaining a tight grip on the nightie, which tore again.
Jazyges moved in again and clasped the hunter's upper arms, nuzzling at his neck. Iolaus drove a heel back into his legs, wishing he had his boots on instead of the flimsy sandals. It had no effect. Jazyges moved one arm up and around the blond's throat and started to move backwards towards the door dragging Iolaus after him.
At that point, some of Iolaus' friends decided to intervene and an absolute free-for-all developed.
Meanwhile, Xena and Gabrielle had been preparing for bed and Gabrielle had just discovered her loss. There didn't appear to be anything else missing, but Gabrielle was upset to have had one of her few nice articles of clothing taken.
Not long after that, the fight broke out. Some of the women were screaming and so Xena decided to investigate and hurried from the room only to bump into Hercules on a like mission. "Wait for me," Gabrielle cried, scurrying after them.
Unfortunately, the first thing Gabrielle spotted when they entered the tavern, that had been hosting the costume party, was her nightie or, at least, the remains of it. Her scream of horror had both Xena and Hercules' immediate attention. "My nightie!" she cried, pointing.
Hercules, of course, knew nothing about the loss, but he looked to see what she was pointing at and saw a battered-looking Iolaus in the act of flinging someone across the bar. He did a double take. What on earth was his partner wearing?
Xena spotted the hunter simultaneously, but reacted far more quickly. "Stay here," she said to Gabrielle, "I'll handle this," and strode forward, slamming aside any man foolish enough to get into her path.
Seeing that Xena appeared to be going to assist Iolaus, Hercules concentrated on trying to calm down the people nearest to him. By the time he had succeeded and some order had been restored, there was no sign of his three friends.
Xena had fought her way to the hunter and had seized him by the scruff of the neck. He had whirled to meet the new attack, only to have his right forearm grabbed and brutally twisted. He kicked out and swore as his bare toes connected with the metal on Xena's boots. "Stop it, Iolaus!" the Warrior Princess hissed.
Belatedly identifying his attacker, he glanced up and she impatiently backhanded him across the face. Then, yanking his arm painfully up his back, she propelled him towards the backdoor.
"Ow! Xena, let go!" Iolaus protested.
"Not on your life. You've got a lot of explaining to do."
She hustled him around to the front of the inn and called Gabrielle. "We'll go back and talk in our room, I think," she said, shoving the hapless hunter ahead of her.
They entered the room and Xena pushed him across the room and held him down on the bed. He was quite a sight. His face looking very white in contrast to the carmine lips and eyes outlined with kohl, but the rest of his person was even more 'interesting'. The nightie hung in shreds so his only real covering was the g-string and he was barefoot, having lost both sandals in the fight.
"Right, Iolaus, I'm waiting for your explanation," she announced, sternly.
He gulped. "I-I only borrowed it."
"No, Iolaus, the word for taking other's property without permission is *stealing*. You *stole* the nightdress," she corrected, her voice icy.
"No! I was going to return it. I *was*!"
"And what are you going to do about it now?"
"I-I don't know. I *will* get you another, Gabrielle … eventually. I haven't got any money at the moment, but …"
"But you're going to get some immediately, aren't you?" the Warrior Princess asked, menacingly.
"I-I can't. Not immediately."
"Well, I just might have to take the cost out of your hide," she said.
She released his suffering arm and reached for her sword belt, which was lying on the bedside table.
"Turn over on your front," she ordered.
Iolaus looked at her apprehensively and made no move to obey.
"Did you hear me?"
Iolaus was unsure whether she was serious or not, but Gabrielle clearly believed that she was. Until this point, she had been just watching the proceedings, but now she protested, "Xena, please don't hurt him! It was only a nightie!"
"It wasn't 'only a nightie' when you discovered it was missing," Xena reminded her. Gabrielle was a little too fond of the scapegrace hunter for the Warrior Princess' peace of mind so, if anything, the intervention seemed to harden her resolve.
Iolaus wondered what to do. Now that she had let go of him, he could make a run for the door, but he didn't think that he would make it. He had serious doubts about whether he could actually defeat the Warrior Princess if it came to a fight and he knew that if, by some fluke, he injured her, there would be Tartarus to pay with Hercules and Gabrielle. However, he wasn't about to meekly accept a beating from her either, even if he had been, as he knew only too well that he had, at fault. All he could hope for was that she was merely trying to scare him.
However, the question of whether she would have really done it was never answered because, at that moment, Hercules tapped on the door and entered, saying, "I thought I'd find you all here." Iolaus had never been so relieved to see him.
Taking in the scene, with some degree of shock, Hercules exclaimed, "Xena, what on earth are you doing?"
"Punishing an impecunious thief who can't afford to make good the damage he's done."
"Sorry, I can't let you do that. I'll pay for the nightie, but if anyone is to punish him I'll do it."
"*You* won't do anything to him and he'll get away with it," Xena protested.
"No, he won't. I promise I'll take some action."
"All right," the Warrior Princess reluctantly conceded. "Take him!" As she spoke, she dragged the hunter to his feet and then gave him a hard shove across the room.
Hercules put an arm around his partner, who was rubbing his aching arm. "Thank you, Xena. Come on, Iolaus, you've got a *lot* of explaining to do," he said, sternly, as he led the blond out.
Iolaus gave his explanation, head down and only risking occasional nervous peeks through his lashes at the demigod's face.
It took a lot of willpower for Hercules to school his features into an expression of strong disapproval and condemnation and then to successfully deliver one of his lectures on this occasion. It wasn't that he approved in any way, shape or form of what the little blond had done, but the sight of his beloved hunter standing before him in the remains of a transparent nightie and a pink g-string was not conducive to the delivery of a serious reprimand.
Finally, he could stand it no more. "Right, it's punishment time," he declared, as he sat down on the bed and pulled an unresisting Iolaus over his knee. He feasted his gaze on the hunter. The beautiful creamy buttocks were fully exposed to his lustful eye, the thong of the g-string stretched taut between them. Hercules ran a teasing finger under the thong and smiled. He gave the blond a single slap and then leant forward and planted a kiss on each cheek.
Then he stood up, threw his lover on to the bed and landed on top of him.
The session that followed would have to have been one of the hottest the pair had ever enjoyed.
Iolaus privately resolved that, if this was Hercules' new notion of punishment, he would definitely have to provoke him more often. The demigod himself was beyond rational thought, aware only of the hunter's sweet flesh and his cries of pleasure. And an unseen Aphrodite smiled in appreciation of the entertainment the pair was unwittingly providing.
The next day, Gabrielle spied Iolaus limping down the passage and hurried to report to Xena. "You were wrong about Hercules not punishing Iolaus, Xena. You should see the way he's walking. Poor Iolaus! I never thought Hercules would beat him like that."
"No, and I *still* don't think he would," the Warrior Princess commented sagely to the bewilderment of Gabrielle.