The characters of Hercules, Iolaus, Xena and Gabrielle (as well as Serena, Ulysses and Autolycus) are not mine and belong to MCA/Universal/Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures. I just borrowed them for my own recreation.
This story contains a love scene between two men as well as some references to a love affair between two women. If you find any of these things offensive I suggest you find something else to read.
Essentially, the story takes place right after the events depicted in HTLJ fourth season episode 'Hero's Heart,' and sometime before XWP third season episode 'The Deliverer.'
Your comments are most welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Hind's Blood
The sun was about to set on the city of Nemea. Hercules gazed at the slowly darkening sky, enjoying the magnificent dusk. Then he laid his eyes on his partner, who was standing right beside him. Hercules noticed his mind was somewhere else.
"Come on, Iolaus. Let's find ourselves a decent place to sleep tonight."
"Herc," said Iolaus hesitantly
"Would you mind if we leave Nemea immediately? I know you already have your mind set on a comfortable bed and a home-cooked meal for tonight, but I feel I have to get away from this place. I mean, after all that has happened the last couple of days..."
"Please, Hercules, humor me. Just this time."
The demigod released a sigh. He waved both his hands sideways reluctantly. "Fine. We can camp right outside town tonight. Boy you owe me a big one."
The two warriors made their way out of town and into the nearby forest in silence, each one consumed in his own thoughts. They walked for a while until they reached a bare patch.
Iolaus was the first to break the silence. "I'll start the fire."
"I'd better go and find us something to eat," said Hercules.
"It better be a rabbit," called Iolaus behind him.
After what seemed to be forever, Hercules was back carrying two slaughtered rabbits in his right hand.
"Finally. I was beginning to hallucinate from hunger. I'm so famished I can devour both of them raw."
"Alcmene always taught me patience is a virtue," said the demigod. He placed the rabbits on a stick above the flames. "It won't be long now. Besides, it will taste so much better cooked." He added.
The two of them sat quietly, surrounded by the darkness, staring at the fire. They deliberately avoided each other's eyes. At last Hercules got up, took the meat off the flames, and started dismembering it.
"Dinner is served."
Iolaus jumped to his feet, grabbing his meal and devouring it entirely until nothing was left but the bones. Hercules watched amused while his hunger-struck partner sucked on the bones.
When they were both finished and disposed of the leftovers, they resumed their previous positions. Iolaus held a thin long stick against the fire, occasionally toying with the flames. Hercules started engraving some wood into a shape of an animal, using his pocketknife. Finally he broke the tensed silence. "So I guess we'll start westward to Corinth tomorrow. So be ready to wake up bright and early."
Careful to avoid the demigod's eyes the hunter started: "Hercules..."
"I really don't know about that."
"Going to Corinth or having to wake up at the crack of dawn again?"
"Humm...neither actually," answered Iolaus reluctantly.
"So what is it?" asked Hercules rather impatiently.
"I've been thinking, Hercules, about the other day, you know, when I decided to part with you."
"We've been through that already, Iolaus. That woman's death was not your fault. She panicked and slipped and there was nothing you could do."
"You know, the more I think about it, I start to believe that unfortunate incident wasn't the reason for my decision."
"What are you getting at, Iolaus?"
"Hercules," Iolaus took a deep breath and then started again, this time looking into the demigod's blue eyes. "I still think I need a fresh start." He paused for a minute. "Away from you." Iolaus could see the surprise in his partner's eyes turning into pain.
"Iolaus, what's going on?" asked Hercules, trying to ignore the words uttered just now.
"Please don't make it any harder than it already is," murmured the hunter.
"What are you talking about? Iolaus, it's us, you and me. We've known each other since we were fifteen years old." Hercules got up and started pacing around nervously.
"Well, a lot has happened since then," retorted the hunter.
"Sure. We are grown men now." Hercules tried to conceal the panic in his voice. "But inside we're still the same."
"You know as well as I do *nothing* is the same. What we've been through changed the both of us forever. And I think it's time we acknowledge that maybe we should go our separate ways."
"Iolaus, listen. We're both tired. None of us can really think straight right now. Let's turn in and continue this discussion on our way tomorrow."
"There you go again, dismissing me and my feelings. You know, Herc, even though you do it often I've always forgiven you. But I can't. Not anymore." He got up to face his partner. "I know it may come as a surprise to you, but the world does not revolve around you. Maybe if you bothered to look you'd find out there are other people, with needs and feelings..."
"Where is all this coming from?" Hercules raised his voice.
"You've always pursued your destiny, no matter the consequences or whoever happened to be in your way. I can't help thinking I just happened to be there for the ride. Maybe my destiny is different than yours. I need to find out what that is."
"Iolaus, look into my eyes. Do you really think that?"
Iolaus lowered his eyes to the ground.
"Come on. You've stuck around because you wanted to. I never forced you to do anything. I never could. You're too pig headed." Hercules tried humor. Then he became serious again. "I never kept you from doing things by yourself. You traveled alone more times than I can remember. You're free to come and go as you please." His voice became hoarse and he looked away, afraid to show his fear.
"Well, maybe I'll exercise this freedom and sleep way over there," said Iolaus angrily.
"Fine, you do that," yelled Hercules behind his back, as the hunter moved his bedroll to the other side of the fire.
That night neither of them could sleep. Both were tormented by the harsh words uttered earlier - and they feared daylight, the time to face the consequences and each other.
"Xena, please slow down. My ankle is killing me." Gabrielle stopped and rubbed the sore place.
"I told you you shouldn't try that flip. But did you listen to me? No. You had to try it on your own," said the Warrior Princess, half amused. She stopped, turned backwards and then started back to the golden bard. "Show me your ankle."
"It's nothing really," protested Gabrielle.
"So why are you limping like a three legged goat?"
"Nevermind." Xena felt her lover's ankle. "Nothing's broken. Looks like you twisted it though. It should stop hurting in a day or two."
"Can we have some breakfast now, Xena?" asked Gabrielle.
"I know a perfect spot we can rest in. It's just a few minutes ahead of us. Can you walk?"
"A few minutes? Sure," answered Gabrielle, and started to pace carefully leaning on her staff. "Let's play a game. It will take my mind off the pain."
"What kind of a game?" asked Xena rather reluctantly.
"A guessing game, like the one we played the day we met Hower and Minya, remember?"
"Well, OK. But only until we get there."
"Fine. I'll start this time. So, guess, who am I?"
"Are you a warlord?" asked the warrior.
"Are you a king?" tried Xena again.
"Na-ah." The bard smiled.
"No, Xena. You are supposed to ask me... Oh, hello Hercules," she said when she realized who Xena was referring to.
The demigod was sitting on a large rock, engraving some wood. Xena and Gabrielle could see his mind was elsewhere.
The Warrior Princess put her arms around her former lover. Then she looked around, as if missing something. "So...where's Iolaus?" she asked.
"Somewhere in the woods. Gone fishing, I believe," answered Hercules rather dryly.
Xena and Gabrielle exchanged looks. "Maybe I'll go help him. We're gonna join you for breakfast, if you don't mind." Xena didn't wait for him to answer, and in a few seconds disappeared into the forest.
Gabrielle sat herself on a rock beside Hercules. He was pretending to be busy and feeling a bit uncomfortable, she carefully weighed her words. "So, Hercules..."
He reacted with a slight whimper, unwilling to start a conversation.
"Hercules, we don't know each other very well, and I *really* don't want to pry, but is everything OK between you and Iolaus?"
There was an uneasy silence for a moment. Then the demigod turned to her and said: "I guess not. I don't know what is the matter with him..." Then he told her about the events of the last few days.
"It sounds like you two have been through a lot."
"But I just don't get it. Why would he say those things?" wondered the demigod.
Gabrielle struggled with herself a few moments, then started again: "I know it's not my place to say, Hercules, but... have you two ever talked about what happened... the last time we met..." Then she took a deep breath and continued: "about Serena."
The last two words caught Hercules off guard. He paled, moved his right hand through his honey-colored hair, and then said: "What's she got to do with it?"
It was the bard's turn to be surprised. "You mean you haven't? All those months and you never even discussed it once?"
"What's to talk about? It's over," answered Hercules, rather angrily.
"Not for him," uttered Gabrielle.
The demigod's eyes turned to her, viewing her in a whole new way, as if it was their first encounter. Then he looked away, biting his lower lip. For a few moments they sat there in perfect silence, unsure of the right thing to say.
Gabrielle was the first to break the silence. "You have to see it from his point of view. You married someone else. You made a commitment to live with her for the rest of your lives. No, worse. You demanded his blessing, not even once asking him how he felt about the whole thing. That is the most inconsiderate thing you could have done, especially..." She hesitated for a moment. "Especially after you've become lovers."
Hercules felt surprised. But what amazed him most was not the fact that she *knew*, but the intensity of her words. He looked at her attentively. She was struggling with her tears. Hercules wanted to say something, to sooth her, but could not find the right words. Then the bard resumed her speech. "I know. I've been there."
She paused for a few moments and then continued. "Xena and I were best friends for a very long time. It took me a whole year to notice there was more to that. I was even foolish enough to leave her for a man once. That ended tragically." She stopped for a moment, pondering the obvious analogy.
"It wasn't until I almost lost her, that things started to change. We were near Cirra when we were attacked by a bunch of slavers. I was captured, but Xena fought them off and freed the other prisoners as well. All of a sudden, she was struck by a huge wooden log. It was a trap. I remember the horror I felt watching her jolted helplessly until she hit a tree. Before she blacked out she managed to ask me to take her to the mountains, to a healer friend of hers. But by the time we got there, it was too late for her." The bard stopped, swallowing her tears.
"I remember being told to let her go... gods I don't think I will ever forget the feeling. I was so lost without her." Hercules rested his hand on her shoulder. She acknowledged the gesture with a faint smile.
"After I ran into Iolaus I came across a group of Amazons from my tribe. They offered me to stay with them and become their queen. I was giving that offer a serious consideration when the most amazing thing happened. Xena returned to me. Well, not exactly. It's a long story. Anyway, she revealed herself to me through Autolycus, telling me she could still be saved. I... I was a mess, crying uncontrollably. And then it happened. She leaned down and kissed me, a soft lingering kiss on my lips."
"It was not until the whole matter was resolved and things got back to normal that I started thinking about that kiss. I was looking at Xena in a whole new light. I began wondering if it was all in my head when, a few days later, it happened again. This time I could not help myself and revealed my feelings to her. To my surprise she confessed her own long-concealed emotions."
"We both realized that only through the prospect of losing each other forever we were finally able to face our true feelings for one another, to drop the masks and say what was always in our hearts. At that moment we could not hold back any longer. We made love for the very first time right there and then, oblivious to the world around us."
Gabrielle's face flushed as she realized she said it out loud. Hercules didn't seem to mind though, so she went on.
"Of course, after that, everything changed. We never parted, even for one night. Being together seemed to be the only thing that mattered. Even during battles I found myself thinking about making love afterwards. I guess I was living in a sweet delirium, sort of a world of my own, with only me and her existing. "
"Sounds great," commented the demigod.
"It was. Until we met Ulysses." She said, her smile fading.
The Warrior Princess made her way through the shrubbery until she could hear the sound of flowing water nearby. She wasn't wrong. A minute later she arrived at a creek, an ideal fishing spot. Iolaus was sitting on the bank, his back to her, holding a fishing hook. He didn't even notice when she came closer. His eyes were focused on an unseen distant spot somewhere in the horizon. Xena touched his right shoulder lightly.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
"Xena, it's great to see you again. Hey, where's Gabrielle?" asked the hunter in an outburst of sudden joy.
"She's back with Hercules." Hearing his partner's name the smile on Iolaus' lips faded away. Noticing it, Xena sat down beside him. Her voice softening, she asked: "Iolaus, what's wrong?"
The golden hunter looked at her, feeling as if he was drowning in her deep blue eyes. 'After all this time she still has that power over me. It's as if she can read what's in my heart,' he thought to himself. Then he turned his gaze in the direction of the river. Finally he began speaking.
"I don't know where to begin. I guess it started after you left. I went away for a few days, and ever since I've returned *it* was there, between me and Herc. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make it go away. As time was passing, it got bigger and bigger, until it seemed there was a wall between us. We rarely spoke anymore, and when we did, it was about trivial matters, like getting meals and how we stopped some warlord from doing wrong. Then, a few days ago, it got worse." After hearing about the recent events, Xena paused for a moment. Then she started again.
"Iolaus, you don't really think leaving Hercules has anything to do with dropping some woman, as awful as that may be. No, it's about something else." Then she observed him with one of her looks, a look so keen that it was usually meant to freeze her enemy's flow of blood.
"It's about Serena," she finally uttered.
Iolaus held his breath. He lowered his gaze trying to think what to say next. He felt as if he'd lost his grip. He didn't care anymore. In an unexpected burst of rage he let it all out.
"So my *best friend* goes off and marries some woman. Happens every day, right? Yeah! Except this *friend* also has the habit of fucking me every once in a while. So he announces his upcoming wedding and asks *me* to be his best man. Imagine his surprise when I refused! Boy he was mad. His nostrils trembling, he begged me to share his happiness.
"The problem was that at that moment I was far from sharing anyone's happiness. I was crying from the inside. You know, when he told me he was going to marry *her* I could feel my heart being torn to pieces. With each of his looks it felt like he was stomping it, letting all my lifeblood drip out, to the ground. Each moment I was around him felt like death." A tear started dripping from his right eye, marking a trail along his face.
"Iolaus, I'm so sorry" Xena pulled his head gently to her lap. Her heart was racing as she realized her own guilt.
"I never want to feel like that again," Gabrielle sighed as she summed up her story. "After it was all over, we talked about it. It was the most difficult talk we ever had. But this ordeal taught us a very important lesson. Relationships are all about communication and honesty. I realized if we'll always listen to each other we could make it through just about anything."
Hercules was sitting immobile. The implication of the things the bard just told him shocked his every being. For the first time in his life, his mind was clouded and he couldn't think straight. For some time they were sitting there, afraid to even move. Hercules was recounting the last few months in his mind, and Gabrielle suddenly felt herself uncomfortable revealing intimate details of her life with Xena.
They were both startled at the sounds of people approaching. Hercules and Gabrielle jumped up as Iolaus and Xena slowly made their way back to camp. Gabrielle greeted Iolaus with her eyes, still afraid to break the silence. Her looks suddenly crossing with her partner's, and she cleared her throat and uttered: "Oh my! Look at the time. Well, we're sorry for not eating and running, but Xena and I need to get going. We just have to be in ... uhm..."
"Someplace else," completed the Warrior Princess.
"Yep, not here, that's for sure..."
Xena pulled her lover by her green sportsbra, and the two started walking away, occasionally looking backwards at their friends.
Then the two men were alone again. Still afraid to make eye contact, Hercules asked: "Catch anything?"
They both smiled, then gestured one another to go first. Feeling obliged to make the first step, Hercules started: "Iolaus, for the first time in my life I feel lost. I don't know what to do. So I'll say what's in my heart.
"I realized today that I've been blind for a long time. I was selfish and thoughtless and basically acted like the Olympian side of the family. The worse thing is that I let someone else pay for my mistake. For months now you've been carrying around all this pain and I was oblivious to it. I know you cannot forgive me, and I don't blame you if you never will. But I want you to hear me out.
"I have no excuse for what I did. I know now I have hurt you deeply. In my relentless quest for love I have taken the wrong path, not seeing that what I've been yearning for all those years has always been there. So all I have left today is to beg you, please, Iolaus, don't take it away from me. Don't leave me. I don't know what I'll do without you by my side."
A tear started flowing from the demigod's eyes. Then another. And another. Soon the pouring stream blurred his sight, his whole body shaking uncontrollably. Suddenly he felt a hesitating hand slightly brushing against his, at first slowly, then more firmly. Finally he felt a warm body clinging unto him. As Iolaus' tears started swarming down his chest, Hercules held his lover close, planting numerous kisses between the hunter's golden curls, slowly rocking them both, murmuring, "I love you, Iolaus."
When they finally broke the embrace, the two warriors were still in tears. Hercules took his partner in his arms, raised his chin, locking their lips together. Slowly he spread them open, claiming Iolaus' mouth, softly at first, then more demanding. All of a sudden, he broke the kiss.
"I know it may sound strange to you, but I have to get to town," he said.
"Now?" Iolaus couldn't believe his ears.
"Yes. I just have to go. Trust me Iolaus. I'll be back as soon as possible." Hercules disappeared between the trees before his partner could even protest.
"Great!" mumbled Iolaus as he sat down. "Just when we were making up, he has to go. Trust him, he says. Yeah! Count on him to disappear at the most crucial moment." In spite of his anger, he stayed there, waiting loyally for his partner to return.
By the time Hercules returned, Iolaus had already finished gathering their belongings. The demigod kissed the hunter gently on his lips, then lifted their big brown backpack.
"Come on. Iolaus, We're leaving this place."
"And going where?" wondered his partner out loud.
"You'll see." The demigod smiled mysteriously.
The two warriors started walking through the woods towards the town of Nemea. Soon they were engaged in a conversation, discussing current events, and moving on to gossip. By the time they have reached the market place, Iolaus regained his usual playfulness. Then he realized his partner was leading him towards the local inn. Before he had the chance to ask anything, Hercules took his hand and led him through a side door into a long corridor. They stopped in front of a wooden door. Hercules was now facing his partner.
"Before we go inside, Iolaus, there is something I have to say. With a little help from my friends, I realized today how utterly egotistical I've been, hurting you like that. A thousand apologies would not make up for what I did to you."
Though feeling the need to protest, Iolaus let the demigod resume his heartfelt speech.
"That is why I brought you here, so I can show you what you mean to me. Iolaus, you are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I love you. I need you by my side. From now on, I am yours as you are mine, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."
"Until death do us part?" repeated Iolaus, utterly stunned.
Then Hercules took out a large piece of cloth, and before his lover could react, blindfolded him. Then he led him through the door.
Iolaus could smell the scent of incense enveloping him, sweet and seductive. When Hercules let the cloth off his eyes, Iolaus found himself in a dark room, surrounded by dozens of candles, scattered all over the chamber. When his eyes got used to the darkness he noticed the king size bed in the middle of the room.
"Hercules..." he turned to his lover.
Then the demigod leaned down and pressed his luscious lips against his partner's. Iolaus spread them open, inviting a probing tongue in. Hercules deepened the kiss, demanding Iolaus' mouth entirely, reclaiming it as if it was a newly discovered territory. Iolaus' tongue wrestled with his, battling its way into the demigod's mouth, then conquering it, slowly tasting the flesh. They gently broke the kiss, gasping for air.
"I want to make love to you, Iolaus," whispered Hercules. Then he lowered his head to kiss Iolaus' neck, laying one hand on his chest, then slowly under the hunter's purple vest, working his way to the left shoulder blade. His lips now moving behind Iolaus' ear, Hercules led his free hand to the other shoulder blade, and then, with one motion, the vest fell to the floor. Next it was the hunter's gauntlets' turn to hit the ground.
Iolaus took a deep breath as Hercules started to caress his left nipple, drawing circles around it, until he closed his fingers pinching it hard. Then, taking the hunter by the hand, he pulled him towards the bed. Taking his yellow shirt off, Hercules returned to his lover's chest, marking a trail with his lips, starting again with the neck, then going down to the collar bone, dwelling on the erect nipples, wetting them with his tongue, then closing his teeth, careful not to break the skin.
Iolaus could feel waves of pleasure swarming all over his body, making their way to his loins. He moaned as he was reaching for Hercules, caressing the honey-colored hair, then down his cheeks to the bronzed body. He groaned as he felt his lover's hands feeling the lump in his pants, struggling with the belt. Finally the leather pants were overcome, freeing his erect member. Hercules' hands now moved lower to the thighs, caressing them. Iolaus let out an involuntary moan, as Hercules replaced the hands with his lips. The demigod was now kneeling on the floor, one hand on his lover's magnificent abdomen, the other just below his head. Moving his lips up and down Iolaus' thighs, he could feel his partner's racing pulse. Then he took Iolaus' cock in his mouth, first tasting it, then slowly moving the tongue along the shaft. As Iolaus was nearing climax, he started rocking his hips, desperately in need of more friction. Acknowledging that, Hercules increased the rhythm of his movements, then started sucking on the head of his partner's cock, marking circles with the tip of his tongue. As Iolaus' groans grew louder, he opened his mouth, inviting his partner's throbbing shaft all the way in, then out and in again.
"Her-cu-les..." cried Iolaus as he exploded in climax, releasing his essence into his lover's mouth, then collapsed into his arms.
Still half conscious, gasping for air, Iolaus felt the demigod's strong muscular arms wrapped around him, lifting him in the air, and then gently placing him in bed. He opened his deep blue eyes to meet his lover's, and supported by his elbows, rose to lock his lips with his own. As the kiss grew more intense, the hunter pushed himself further against Hercules, forcing his lover down to the bed. When he finally broke the kiss, he leaned back a little, admiring the marvelously shaped body beneath him. Then he started moving all along it, exploring it with a slight touch of his finger, feeling every muscle twitch under his caresses. As Hercules released an involuntary moan, Iolaus shifted his attention to the enormous swelling in his partner's pants. He moved down and with one quick motion managed to remove the belt, and untie the laces that were still restraining Hercules' cock. He pulled the leather pants along the legs and down to the floor. The demigod was now lying on the soft silk satin sheets completely naked.
Iolaus resumed his caresses, this time replacing his finger with his tongue. Hercules closed his eyes and let out a groan as Iolaus reached his nipples, slowly drawing wet circles around them, then sucking hard on the erect centers.
Feeling an unbearable heat in his loins, Hercules grabbed his partner's arms, then pushed and rolled him over. The golden hunter reached out for a flask on the nightstand and handed it to his lover. Hercules grinned as he noticed his partner's erection, then dipped both his hands in the oil, rubbing them together. He then massaged his lover's back, kneading the flesh with his long experienced fingers, moving to Iolaus' firm buttocks, and finally to the thighs.
Dipping his fingers in the oil once more, he spread his lover's legs further apart, then entered him with one finger. As he felt Iolaus releasing the muscles in his ass, he penetrated him with another finger, and finally with a third, moving back and forth inside him. When Iolaus' groans became louder, Hercules pulled his hand back, reached for the flask, and then started coating himself with oil, rubbing generously on his cock and balls. Then he spread his lover's thighs, gently guiding his shaft into the hunter's ass. He could feel Iolaus, eyes closed, pushing himself back against him. The demigod thrust himself in and out of his lover's body, trying to prolong the incredible sensations streaming all through his body, sending waves of pleasure straight to his center.
The two lovers moved faster now, gradually increasing the rhythm, becoming one throbbing flesh with each motion. As they were nearing climax, Hercules lowered one hand around the hunter's waste, reaching for the erect cock. He started massaging it, first gently, then synchronizing his circular movements with those of his hips. Finally neither could hold back anymore, and as they swayed frantically, came together, screaming each other's names, collapsing exhausted on the bed.
When they could finally catch their breaths, Hercules turned Iolaus over to face him.
"I love you," he managed to say, still gasping for air.
Unable to speak, Iolaus, tears in his eyes, put his arms around his partner, planting a gentle kiss on the demigod's chest, right above his heart. An incredible surge of bliss went through him.
At last, he was home.