Author: atara
Story Title: Twisting in the Wind
Characters: Iolaus & Nebula, Hercules/Iolaus
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Hercules must learn not to take Iolaus for granted after he returns from Olympus, and Iolaus visits Nebula for some instruction in the ways in which bondage gets a bad rap.
The rating is for explicit m/m and m/f sex and some moderate bdsm.

Hercules, Iolaus, and Nebula are the property of MCA/Universal/Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, and no financial profit is anticipated. :-) I'm sure I've been influenced in my ideas about the boys' relationship by any number of Hercfic writers, but in ways too subtle for individual acknowledgment--thank you all for stimulating my thought processes as well as some other, ahem, functions. The last part of the story was written largely under the influence of Garbage's _Version 2.0_, which might explain some of the tone. Please check with me before archiving or distributing.

Rated NC-17 for explicit m/m and m/f sex and some moderate bdsm (does this surprise anyone by now?), so if any of that is likely to offend you, there's no point in your reading any further.

Spoiler Warning: This is an H/I story which takes place immediately after the end of the Hercules episode 'Reunions,' so if you haven't seen it, and you don't want to have it spoiled, stop reading now. The lines of dialogue in the beginning between the rows of asterisks are quoted directly from the end of the episode.

This story is *not* in the same continuity as any of my other HTLJ and XWP stories, but if you want to read them, they can be found at Giffstein Productions

Feedback welcome at


Twisting in the Wind
by atara
Copyright © 1998

For Ruth, for many and varied reasons, including her willingness to join me in the wacky world of HTLJ slash and for the title.

Bend me break me anyway you need me
All I want is you
Bend me break me breaking down is easy
All I want is you

Steal me deal me anyway you heal me
Make me take me you can never change me
Love me like me come ahead and fight me
Please me tease me go ahead and leave me

Bend me break me anyway you need me
As long as I want you baby it's alright
--Garbage, "I Think I'm Paranoid," _Version 2.0_ (Almo Sounds, 1998)


Hercules: Well, I'm back.

Iolaus: Back. You mean like back back? Really back? No more Olympus? No more Hercules the god?

Hercules: No--just a half-god.

Iolaus: Oh, that's terrific! So, what happened?

Hercules: I realized how much my family means to me--and you're it. Iolaus wait! Is something wrong?

Iolaus: No, no, I'm just glad you're back. So, how was Olympus?

Hercules: Olympus? Not very friendly.

Iolaus: And Hera?

Hercules: You could say--she's history.


Iolaus kept walking a few steps ahead of Hercules. He asked, "Really? History?"

"Yeah," said Hercules. "She had plans to send me to join Chronos in eternal captivity, but I . . . uh . . . *convinced* her to go there herself instead." He shrugged.

"That's great news! You must have been very persuasive," noted the hunter, still keeping up his rapid pace.

He was brought up short by a hand plucking the back of his vest and hauling him backward. "Will you *please* stop running away from me?" demanded Hercules in an exasperated tone. He grasped Iolaus' arms and turned him around to face him. "Iolaus! You *are* crying," he said, as he reached up to brush a tear from Iolaus' eye with his thumb. Without thinking, he popped his thumb in his mouth, tasting the salty tear.

"It's nothing, really," said the hunter, trying to turn away, but Hercules held him firm.

"Iolaus . . . please . . . will you listen to me and stop turning away?" Iolaus nodded, blinking, and Hercules gestured to a nearby log, where they sat down. The demigod continued. "On Olympus they have a . . . place that records all of history and the present as well. You can look at whatever you want in your past or present. I saw Mother, walking in the Elysian Fields. She looked happy. Zeus told me he's looked in on her every day--her whole life I guess. I got kind of mad and asked if what they did all day was spy on people. It just felt so . . . cold and remote," he gestured with his hands, trying to describe the feeling. "Zeus really did love Mother--I could see that. But he always kept his distance. He didn't know any other way to be. I hated it . . . " Then the demigod put his head in his hands, "But I realized I've been doing the exact same thing. Acting like *them*. Keeping you at arm's length. And taking you for granted, assuming you'd always be there."

Iolaus looked down at his hands; the words rang all too true. Hercules got down on one knee on the ground, facing Iolaus, and the words spilled out faster. "You can't imagine how much I missed you. I missed *everything* about you. Not just the companionship, the laughs, the understanding. I missed your smile. I missed the way the sun shines off your hair. I missed . . . well . . . just looking at you. I realized I wanted to share *all* of my life with you. I . . . want to make love to you. I want to sleep next to you every night. I want to wake up next to you in the morning. I want to argue with you over whether we should catch trout or perch for lunch or over who stole the covers. Gods . . . what was up there was so cold; even Hera trying to depose Zeus was like a game that had been playing out for years. Nothing real. *You*'re what's real, Iolaus. And I think you feel the same way about me. W-will you have me?"

Iolaus looked at the figure of the son of Zeus kneeling before him. Part of him wanted just to say "Yes!" and lose himself in the love of Hercules, which he knew could easily engulf him just the way he'd always wanted. Hercules would love him with all the fervor of his big heart, would cherish him, protect him, take possession of him, and devote himself to Iolaus' pleasure. But Iolaus felt a wall of resistance rising within himself. He knew he'd say yes eventually, but the pain of Hercules' recent departure on top of the pain of other betrayals was too raw, the edges of the wounds too jagged, to allow instant healing.

Iolaus patted the log next to him. Hercules' kneeling position was too unsettling. He hesitated, clearing his throat, and brushing away the tears that, against all his will, insisted on leaking from his eyes. "It's not that easy, Herc," he said slowly.

"Am I wrong about your feelings?" asked Hercules awkwardly.

"No, no, you're not," said the hunter.

"Then, what's the . . . "

"Herc! Don't interrupt me," he snapped. "You're not letting me finish; you're not letting me think." Hercules gazed at the ground, his lips clamped, and his hands locked together. He nodded at Iolaus, indicating that he should continue. Iolaus said, "Like I said, it's not that easy. You've . . . oh, Tartarus, Herc! . . . you've hurt me a lot over the years." As he talked, he grew more sure of what he was saying, and the words rushed out. "And don't you see? You're still being just like the gods. Now that you've made up your mind that I'm what you want, you expect me to just put up a white flag and surrender completely. I know you--you'll want all of me, and I wish I could give you that. But what happens when you find something else you want? You're awfully careless with your heart, Herc. And you came back from Olympus--but what if something else comes along? What if you felt you had to leave me again to serve a greater good? How could I stop you?"

Iolaus glanced at the demigod, whose face was as white as the shirt he had worn during his brief career as a god. "I don't want to hurt you, Herc," Iolaus pressed on. "But I'm not ready to answer your question, and I don't think you're ready to ask it. I need time, Herc. I'll never say never--not to you. I want more than anything to give you everything I have, all of me--my heart, my soul, my body. But . . . I can't trust you with them yet . . . " he trailed off miserably.

"I . . . I th-think I understand," stammered the demigod, a catch in his throat. "I-I'm s-sorry, Iolaus f-for taking y-you for granted a-gain." Iolaus felt horrible, loathsome, like something that belonged under a rock. Hercules had been so glad to see him and to be back and had poured out his heart to him. Iolaus wanted nothing better than to offer himself up to Hercules forever--as he had silently done years ago without Hercules ever realizing it. But he knew he was doing the right thing. Hercules was too much the offspring of a god , and Iolaus feared if he gave himself too easily he might be taken too lightly. And he couldn't bear the thought of giving all of himself only to be abandoned again. He could live with the pain Hercules had unintentionally inflicted on him over the years, but the pain of gaining Hercules only to lose him again would be unbearable beyond all measure. He couldn't risk it. Not until Hercules could understand the kind of promises Iolaus needed him to make and could make them with total commitment. And Iolaus felt sure that Hercules could neither understand nor undertake those promises until he could see things from Iolaus' perspective, understand his feelings, instead of assuming he could, like gods, simply take whatever it occurred to him that he wanted.

"I'm really sorry, Herc," said Iolaus gently. "I want more than anything for this to work out, and you can't begin to imagine how glad I am you came back. But we need time."

Hercules nodded, and asked, his voice stronger, "Now what?"

"Well," said the hunter, "I didn't exactly know when you'd be back--or even *if* you'd be back. I . . . uh . . . made some plans. I'll be gone a few days."

"What sort . . ." began Hercules, then corrected himself, "sorry, I don't have the right to ask that."

"No, you don't," agreed Iolaus abruptly, then added quickly, "I think Jason could probably use the company, if you want to go see him. Oh, I didn't tell you, I went to see my mom and her new husband."

"How did it go?" asked Hercules with forced interest, hoping the cracking of his heart wasn't audible.

"Rocky at first. I was such a selfish shit--not going back to see her. But it turned out really well." Iolaus' attention was seemingly transfixed by a grouping of scattered leaves on the ground. He avoiding looking at Hercules' obviously stricken face. "Look . . . um . . . I . . . uh, gotta get going. I'll see you in a few days."

Hercules stood up when Iolaus did, and they clasped each other's wrists in a firm shake. "Yeah, see you," said the demigod numbly.

Iolaus walked away at a brisk pace, riddled with guilt, but sure it had been the only thing he could do. He heard a loud crash, which sounded suspiciously like the fist of a demigod smashing through a rock or log, paused for a moment, shaking his head, then continued on his way.


Toward evening he reached the port in Corinth, and the ship he was expecting to see was at the dock. It was peaceful here, unlike his past visit, and he was grateful, although he was also saddened at the thought that Iphicles hadn't been able to see his mother before she died.

He stealthily boarded the ship, hoping his boots wouldn't creak on the deck. As he moved toward the steps that led into the interior of the ship, he was suddenly grabbed from behind. His right arm was yanked up behind his back, and he felt a sharp point against the back of his neck.

"Nebula. Is that a knife in your hand, or are you just happy to see me?"

"Yes. Now march, Goldilocks!" answered the pirate. Iolaus found himself being propelled forward. After he had negotiated the steps, before he knew what was happening, Nebula had pulled his wrists behind his back and bound them with a rope.

"Nebula . . . " he said warningly.

"Don't give me that, Iolaus," she said, laughing. "Last time I saw you, when I was talking about bondage, your face lit up like a Solstice tree. And if I recall correctly, *you* were the one that brought it up. And I didn't think you made a date with me just to play rock, parchment, dagger for two days."

Iolaus smiled to himself, tossing a stray lock of hair out of his eye, and letting Nebula steer him to her cabin, all the while keeping a firm grip on his elbow. Her cabin was lushly decorated in burgundy and gold. The bed was covered with large burgundy cushions with gold tassels, which matched

the canopy sweeping down from the low ceiling. A pair of plush chairs in the same color schemes rested against one wall, with a small table between them. Iolaus whistled appreciatively, and Nebula nodded, saying, "Did you think I wasn't good at what I do?" After she closed the door, she pushed Iolaus up against it and grinned, remarking, "I don't see you fighting real hard to get away."

"Well," he said, "like you said last time, I owe you."

"That you do," she said, "and I intend to put you to work." She leaned in, pressing her mouth to his, and they kissed, their tongues weaving in a slow, deliberate, languorous dance. Iolaus thought for a moment about Hercules, then dismissed the thought. Had Hercules thought about *him* on all those occasions when he had left the hunter behind? He doubted it. And if he *was* going to give himself to Hercules the way the demigod wanted, then he might as well have his fun while he could.

Nebula broke the kiss and stepped back, slowly removing her clothes, what little there was of them. There was nothing vulnerable about her nude. She was still exuding a cheerful, breezy, matter-of-fact confidence, and she was obviously enjoying his reactions to the sight. He had seen her naked before, when he had come upon her showering, and she had laughed at his flustered embarrassment, asking him for a towel only to wrap it around her head instead of her body. This time, he wasn't embarrassed, merely appreciative. His erection strained against his pants, but he had a feeling it wouldn't be getting immediate relief. After all, he was the one who owed a debt.

She draped herself over one of the chairs and beckoned Iolaus with one finger. He crossed the cabin to her and knelt before the chair. "Show me how well you pay your debts, Iolaus," she said. He dearly wished for the use of his hands, but he knew he could accomplish his goals without them. He knelt up and leaned forward to deposit a respectful kiss on each of Nebula's nipples. "Oh yes, that's nice," she said. Iolaus began circling one nipple with his tongue, drawing tight circles. Nebula laced her fingers into his hair, and observed, "I had a feeling that mouth might be good for something besides those pretty smiles of yours."

After a while, Iolaus turned his attention to the other nipple, tonguing it in the same manner, listening to the changes in Nebula's breathing that suggested he was having an effect. When he returned to the first breast, sucking just the nipple into his mouth, toying with it with his tongue, he felt her grip tighten in his hair. *She must like this,* he thought to himself; *never let it be said I don't pay my debts.* She moaned as he grazed the captive nipple with his teeth, then tugged on it lightly before releasing it. Nebula sank further into her chair with a sigh of frustration, but Iolaus moved to the other breast, sucking just the nipple and nipping it with his teeth, drawing out her pleasure.

He leaned back slightly, and she reluctantly released her grip on his hair. He glanced down between her parted legs, and asked, "May I?"

"You certainly may, baby." Iolaus grinned, then awkwardly lowered himself. She spread her legs wider, her hands clutching the arms of the chair. Iolaus inhaled deeply, then carefully licked a path between her lips, tasting the wetness that had already accumulated there. He couldn't resist a small grunt of pleasure, as his tongue explored folds and crevices. He flicked her clitoris lightly, and she moaned again. He began circling it the way he had her nipple, lightly, using only the tip of his tongue. He increased the pressure and drew tighter circles until she yelled and her hips rocked in climax.

"Come here," she ordered, pulling him forward into a long kiss, which she followed by licking her juices off his chin and cheeks. Suddenly the knife was in her hand, and she reached around him to cut the bonds around his wrists. "Time for you to get naked, Iolaus," she said, and he obligingly removed his clothes. "Oh, very nice," she said as his erect cock was released from its restraints. She nimbly leapt from her chair, grabbed something from the table next to her, and stepped behind him, tying a blindfold quickly around his head. He started, and she laughed. "Don't you trust me, Iolaus?"

"Not particularly," he answered with a disarming grin. "Would you?"

"You've got a point there," she agreed. She guided him toward the bed, then pushed him so he fell and landed on his back amid a pile of cushions. While he recovered from the slight sense of disorientation he felt, Nebula pulled his arms above his head and tied them to a metal ring in the wall.

"You're the perfect hostess," muttered Iolaus. "You think of everything."

"It's important in my line of work to be prepared for everything. And, at least one part of you doesn't seem to be objecting," she returned, briefly grasping his erect member. Iolaus groaned, but Nebula only laughed and turned to play with his nipples. Being blindfolded heightened his sensations, as she pinched the sensitive nubs between sharp fingernails. He groaned more and squirmed, and she lightly raked her nails down his chest and abdomen, leaving tingling trails down his body, then returned to play with his nipples again. He writhed as a burning sensation raced from his nipples to his cock, the pain somehow transmuting into pleasure along the way.

She got up and said lightly, "I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere." Iolaus merely snorted in response.

When she came back, she rubbed his nipples roughly between her thumbs and forefingers so they burned and throbbed. Then Iolaus jerked and yelped from the sensation of a chunk of ice sluicing across his nipple. "Oh gods!" he gasped hoarsely, as the ice moved to the other side. "Nebula . . . it's too much . . . I don't think I can stand it!"

"Do you want me to stop?" she inquired, drawing the ice in a line down from the hollow of his neck to his navel.

"Stop? No, that's not what I meant!" cried the hunter desperately.

"Good," said Nebula with satisfaction. "Then what are you complaining about?" He answered only with a groan, as the ice swept around his chest and across his abdomen, then down the underside of one arm from elbow to armpit and up the other arm the same route. He heard a squeaking sound as the chunk of ice was snapped in half, and howled with a piece was pressed hard to each nipple. "You're cute when you're frustrated," noted Nebula. Iolaus heard a clink of ice in some sort of container, and then Nebula's fingers latched onto his nipples again. "I thought you might need those warmed up a little," she explained.

The cushions and the bed shifted under him as Nebula moved. She was sitting between his legs, drawing her fingernails down his inner thighs. She followed the burning streaks with strokes of the ice, and Iolaus flinched, pulling his legs away, spreading them wider apart in the process. Nebula chuckled, then put the ice aside. She cupped Iolaus' balls in one hand, while with the other she pinched tiny folds of the sensitive flesh between her fingernails. Iolaus was whimpering pretty continuously, then yelped as a fingernail made its way up the underside of his throbbing cock and two fingernails pinched the head between them. Iolaus' hips began to rock, and he felt a sudden pressure between his anus and scrotum, preventing him from coming.

"Not yet, pretty boy," she taunted. "I'm not finished with that." She played with his cock and balls for a while with her nails, bent down and licked the same trail her fingernail had made earlier. She teased Iolaus relentlessly with her tongue, swirling it around the head of his cock and dipping into the slit without ever providing enough stimulation to give him release. Then he felt the bed shifting again and could feel the warmth of Nebula's body as she straddled him. He took in his breath sharply, when she slid down over his eager organ, enclosing it in moist heat. She began rocking against him, and he thrust upward into her depths, as they found a rapid rhythm that suited them both. Nebula came first with a gleeful whoop, and Iolaus almost immediately thereafter, his entire body jolted from the explosive release.

She quickly untied him and pulled off the blindfold, and he put his arms around her, stroking her back as they kissed. Then she got up and brought over some wine and two mugs, which they drank lying in bed, half-propped on pillows. "Your debt is more than repaid," said Nebula, smiling at her bed partner. They dozed for a while, then woke up and sleepily made love again, before falling into a sated and exhausted slumber.

The next day they wandered through the marketplace, buying food to bring back with them to Nebula's cabin. A few people recognized Iolaus and, as always, asked about Hercules, and Iolaus provided terse answers.

When they got back, after feeding each other a meal of cheese and fruit in bed, Nebula said, "All right, Iolaus, spit it out. What's going on with you and Hercules?"

"Is it so obvious?" asked Iolaus wryly, his fingers trailing down Nebula's flat stomach to play abstractedly with the tight curls just beneath.

She wriggled and parted her legs slightly to give him more access, but said, "Yes, it's that obvious. And I'm not going to let you off the hook. What's going on?"

Iolaus sighed, then related the death of Alcmene and Hercules' decision to join Zeus on Olympus. Nebula whistled softly and remarked, "And I take it you weren't thrilled with this decision."

"That's putting it mildly," agreed Iolaus, lightly twisting individual curls around his finger. "I knew he'd go, y' know? Zeus played the one card that would work--telling him he'd be able to do better for people from up there. *As if* . . . Herc's not one of them, and he figured it out pretty quick. I thought he probably would, but there was still a part of me that worried he might not come back."

"And?" prompted Nebula.

"Well," said Iolaus, with a tight half-smile, "he said he came back because of *me*, said he realized he'd been taking me for granted just like *they* do--like it was this great revelation." He paused and added, "and for him it was--and he was ready to devote his life to me. I don't know. I just got mad, though I tried not to let him see it. I just felt like he was taking me for granted all over again. Expecting me to jump up and down wagging my tail because he finally got around to realizing that maybe he should throw me a bone." He sighed, "Men . . . "

"Yeah, you can't live with 'em . . . " agreed Nebula. "I like it that way--no attachments, no complications."

"There's a lot to be said for that," said Iolaus with a grin, "but, you know, I've wanted Herc as long as I can remember. I've wanted to give everything I have to him, everything I am."

"I know," said Nebula with a gentle smile. "It's written all over you. I could see it the first time I met you two."

"Well, *he* didn't see it," said Iolaus with a snort of disgust. "Or he chose not to see it because it was inconvenient for him."

"So what did you tell him?"

"I told him I wasn't ready to make the kind of commitment he was asking for. Not because *I* didn't want it--I made pretty clear that I did--but because I didn't think he was ready to know what he meant by it--and *I* wasn't ready to trust him. And then . . . I told him I had plans and I'd see him in a couple days."

"So you left him twisting in the wind, huh?" asked Nebula.

"Yeah, I did," said Iolaus firmly. "It's not as though he's never done it to me again and again. It's that half-god thing; he thinks he can just take what he wants without ever considering that what he wants might have feelings too. It'll do him good to suffer a little."

He bent his head down, casually taking one of Nebula's nipples into his mouth, sucking on it and the surrounding areola, filling his mouth with the soft flesh. She moaned lightly, then returned to the conversation, "So what's next?"

Iolaus looked up, "You mean with Herc? I'm still just so angry at him for a whole series of things. Going to Olympus was hardly the worst of it, but it just hit me really hard. And when he came back, ready to claim me--I don't know--it was like the closing piece of a pattern falling into place. His attitude that he could just make it right by apologizing and taking what he wanted was just so damned familiar--it seemed like nothing had changed. And he didn't even really understand what he'd done wrong. Ah, fuck, let him twist." He returned his mouth to Nebula's breast.

"If you're that mad, Iolaus, you should probably tell him how you really feel. See if he can understand it."

"Mmm-hmm," agreed Iolaus through a mouthful of breast, then looked up again. "Yeah, I probably will. But right now, what I'm really interested in is this breast here."

Nebula laughed. "Be my guest." Iolaus sucked harder on Nebula's breast, while his fingers slid between her legs, parting her lips and dipping inside her and successfully diverting her from the conversation. She reached for his hardening cock, stroking it in a businesslike fashion before pulling him on top of her and inviting him inside, while their mouths locked in a kiss.

The next morning her crew would be returning from shore leave, and Iolaus couldn't put off dealing with the son of Zeus any longer. He and Nebula parted affectionately, and she offered, "Any time you want to get away from Hercules, and I'm in the neighborhood . . . " before giving him a quick squeeze on the ass.

He leaned in and kissed her hard, then said, "Well, if I ever have to sell myself into bondage again, it'll be you I'll sell myself to."

"You've got yourself a deal," she said.


After Iolaus walked away from him, Hercules smashed his fist down into the log immediately next to where he was sitting. Then he buried his head in his hands and sat, unmoving, for hours, hurt and frustrated, but clinging to the hope Iolaus had held out, the acknowledgment that he reciprocated Hercules' feelings. *I don't understand . . . * thought the demigod to himself, alternating with *I *have* to understand.* And the only course immediately ahead of him was inaction. He half-wished Ares was around to taunt him, if only so he could vent some of frustrations on him. Ares was useful that way, and Hercules didn't need to feel guilty about causing any serious damage. His fight with Ares in the tavern where Zeus had been getting drunk had been the only thing that had felt remotely real during his short career as a god, the only thing that had made him feel at all alive. Yeah, a good knock-down-drag-out with Ares would be the only thing that could make him feel better right now, but Ares was nowhere to be seen.

Hercules shrugged self-deprecatingly, disgusted with himself. There was someone he needed to talk to, but she was gone forever. Still . . . maybe talking would still help. Long after it was dark, he made his way back to his mother's grave. He felt a little guilty about avoiding Jason, but he knew he could spend some time with him the next day. Hercules fell to his knees in front of his mother's grave and began to speak.

"Mother. I hope you know I *tried* to work it out with Zeus. I *did* help him against the others. But I couldn't stay there. Do you understand that? It wasn't me; it wasn't right for me. I didn't realize how much a part of me Iolaus *is*. The best part. I had to come back to him. And it all blew up in my face. It was like everything had become so clear, and I *knew* what was truly important, but then I was *still* all wrong. My whole life has been a lesson in learning I can't count on anything--not my father, not the lives of those I love. I've grown used to never knowing what will happen next. But for some reason, I can't *stand* not knowing if I'll ever have him. I want him so badly--I gave up godhood for him--and I want him *now*. That sounds so childish. And how long has he been wanting *me*? How come he could handle wanting and not having and I can't?

"I used to get so mad at Zeus for how he treated you--showing up when he felt like it, neglecting you the rest of the time. But I haven't been any different, have I? Iolaus is right, but why am I so mad at him for walking away? Like I said before, you accepted Zeus for what he is--warts and all. You didn't expect more from him than he could give. Why can't Iolaus put the past behind us and accept *me*? I *can* change, more than Zeus ever could. But I can't prove it unless he gives me a chance . . . But with my track record, why should he?"

Hercules buried his head in his hands again, and when he looked up, his eyes were bright with tears. "Mother, I don't know what to do. I want to make him believe me that things will be different. But, damn it, I felt so humiliated when he got up and left. And I don't know where he is now, or more to the point, *who* he's with. And I know he's with *someone*. I came back from Olympus, I offered myself to him, and he's off having some meaningless fuck with someone instead of being with me. Gods . . . I'm so tired of being adrift. I was so stupid to believe that maybe Olympus would be some kind of home--and why did I think that when my home was right in front of me? Iolaus is my heart's home, and yet I'm so mad at him--I could just *slap* him, *make* him listen to me.

"No, that's all wrong too, isn't it, Mother? I've just messed up so badly this time--and I was so sure I was doing the right thing. It just *hurts* so much--not knowing what he's going to do, knowing he's with someone else. I need him, Mother. I wish you could tell me what to do to get him back."

Hercules wept, his face in his hands, and the tears spilling out from between his fingers. He remained kneeling on the hard, cold ground, punishing himself, until his eyes were glazed and weighted with fatigue. He curled up in a ball right where he had been kneeling and forced himself to sleep there.

Waking up numb, he managed to spend the day with Jason, talking little, but silently sharing in his friend and stepfather's grief. Before he had given up his powers, he had made sure Alcmene was restored to the Elysian Fields, and he was able to report to Jason that she seemed happy. The next morning, he took his leave early, hiking to a favorite isolated fishing spot of Iolaus', leaving word with Jason that Iolaus could find him there.


Hercules sat on the bank of the stream, staring moodily into the water. His desire to make things right with Iolaus was warring with his jealousy, and at the moment the jealousy was winning. He had been miserable ever since he returned from Olympus and Iolaus had dashed cold water over all his hopes, and meanwhile the hunter was off sharing his body with someone else. And Hercules' stomach was twisting with the anxiety of not knowing who it was.

After a couple of hours, Iolaus suddenly appeared and dropped down to the grass near him. Hercules hadn't heard him coming and was startled, which only increased his irritation. "Hey," said Iolaus with a forced casualness.

"Do you *have* to sneak up on me like that?" snapped the demigod, his tension wound up too tight to repress.

"Gosh, I'm glad to see you, too," retorted Iolaus. "I'm a hunter. I don't make a lot of noise when I walk, especially on grass. Do you want me to put a bell around my neck?"

"I'm sorry. I overreacted," said Hercules hastily; then he glanced at that very part of Iolaus' anatomy. There was a prominent reddish-purple bruise.

Iolaus eyed him narrowly. The demigod did not look good; his face looked hollow, and there were bags under his eyes. Iolaus felt bad for a moment; he himself looked like someone who had just spent the last two days doing just what he'd spent the last two days doing. "What's up, Herc?" he asked cautiously.

Hercules couldn't stand it any longer. He opened his mouth, knowing he would undoubtedly regret it, and said, "Who was it?"

"Who was it what?" asked Iolaus, his voice getting harder.

"Who were you with?" demanded the demigod.

"I don't have to answer that," responded Iolaus, his voice increasingly steely. "And where did you think you acquired the right to ask it?"

Hercules jumped up and paced off, and Iolaus realized that he was practically thrumming with tension and nervous energy.

"Is that what you've spent the past two days doing?" called out Iolaus, "wondering who *I* was spending my time with?"

"Like you care," growled Hercules, stalking back. "And yes, I'll admit to some curiosity about who you were *fucking*."

*Herc,* thought Iolaus to himself, *you have a gigantic sign that says 'Kick me' plastered in the middle of your forehead right now, and you're getting me pissed off enough that I'm going to oblige you.* With a defiant grin flashing across his face, he said, "Nebula."

"I see," said Hercules in a dangerously quiet voice. "And I take it you had a good time."

"Yeah, I did. You want details?"

"No, not really," returned Hercules in the same quiet tone. "I can well imagine how you two spent your time--that hickey you're flaunting tells me all I need to know. So, did you simply not *care* about what I was feeling the past two days, or were you going out of your way to make it worse?"

That did it. Iolaus lost it. "Did I not *care* about what you were feeling?" he demanded, hysteria rising in his voice. "Ares' balls, Herc! How can you even think you have the right to ask me that? Did you *care* about what I was feeling when you were fucking Xena? Did you *care* about what I was feeling when you *married* Serena? Did you *care* about what I was feeling when you decided to relocate to Olympus?"

"You encouraged me to go!" exploded Hercules.

"Yeah well, I saw that you would eventually do it anyway, and I thought you'd get it out of your system."

"So I'd come back and you'd have a chance to make me feel like shit about it?" retorted the demigod. "Don't you think that's a little manipulative, Iolaus?"

"By the gods, Herc, I was *hurting*! Excuse me if I'm not at my most ethical when I'm in pain!"

"Well, you've certainly managed to spread it around," snapped Hercules.

Iolaus leapt to his feet, "Oh, I've only just gotten started, Herc. So do you remember how to fight, hero? Or has all that playing with lightning bolts made you soft?"

"Do you really want to find out?" asked Hercules dangerously.

"Yes. I. Do!" declared Iolaus, spinning around and kicking Hercules solidly in the chest. Even at his most furious, Hercules knew better than to fight Iolaus with his full strength, and at first he barely attempted to ward off the blows. Iolaus drove him backward with kicks and punches, yelling, "Do you have any idea how I felt when I came back and found you and Xena all cozy together? Yes, she'd changed, but she *used* me in the worst way possible, and you couldn't wait to get your cock inside her. Even now, you'd drop your pants for her if she so much as beckoned you with one finger!"

Hercules didn't think he could plausibly deny that accusation, and, irritated with both himself and his accuser, he simply grabbed Iolaus' wrist, easily flipping him over on his back. Iolaus rolled over and kept going, knocking Hercules off his feet, straddling him quickly and landing a blow to the demigod's jaw. Hercules grabbed both his arms and simply flung him over his head, which gave him time to jump to his feet. Iolaus also scrambled up and shouted, "And Serena? What in Tartarus was *that* all about?" He was advancing toward Hercules and unexpectedly whirled around, driving his elbow into the demigod's stomach before Hercules grabbed him, flipped him over one arm and dropped him on his back again.

"I wouldn't have married her if I'd known you wanted me! I was looking, hard, for *anyone* who would get my thoughts away from *you*. I didn't know how you felt."

"Well, if so, you're the only one who didn't know! Do you want to know what it felt like when you married her?" yelled Iolaus hoarsely, as he rolled back up to his feet. "It felt like you'd broken every bone I had, trampled on me, and then ripped me to shreds. Did that *ever* occur to you?"

Iolaus advanced on Hercules, throwing punches and elbows, most of them connecting, until Hercules finally clasped his hands together and took an easy swing, sending Iolaus sprawling several feet away. Both knew that that blow had taken but a fraction of the demigod's strength. Disgusted, Hercules turned around, and started walking away, then yelled over his shoulder, "No, it didn't occur to me, Iolaus! I think we've established that I'm selfish and thoughtless. I can't deny it." He kept walking, head down.

Iolaus charged him and managed to leap onto Hercules' back, pummeling him from behind. "Don't you fucking *care*? Does any of this *matter* to you? You're still in perfect control!"

Hercules enunciated carefully, "*Don't*. Push. Me. I don't think you really want to see what would happen if I lost control. It wouldn't be pretty, and you know it."

Frustrated, Iolaus rained his fists harder on Hercules' chest and shoulders, his knees digging hard into the demigod's sides, and exclaimed, "You might as well have stayed up there, on Olympus! How can you stay so detached?"

Hercules was having a hard time dislodging his passenger. "Damn it, Iolaus! I *have* to. I could kill you if I didn't stay detached," he panted, then growled, "This is stupid. Don't you know I could put a stop to this any time?"

"Then why in Hades *don't* you?" demanded the hunter, locking an arm around Hercules' neck.

"Is *that* what you want?" asked Hercules. "I see." He reached up and yanked Iolaus' arm from his neck with just enough strength to dislodge it without dislocating it. Then he threw his body into a roll, forcing Iolaus to leap clear of him. Within seconds he had jumped up, grabbed Iolaus, wrestled him to the ground, pinning him with a knee to his back and pulling his arms behind him. Iolaus struggled, but they both knew it was a futile gesture. Hercules had him immobilized. The demigod twisted the hunter's arms just slightly, but enough to send shooting pains through them, and said, "E-nough! Now hold still unless you want more of that. I see what's going on here, Iolaus. You're so mad at me about Xena, Serena, Olympus, and the gods know what else you don't know how to get past it. So you're pushing *me* to *force* you to back down. I'm going to do what you want, Iolaus. I'm taking this out of your hands. Will that prove to you that I care?"

"It might," said the hunter defiantly.

"Gods, Iolaus," said Hercules gently, "did you really want me to *hurt* you?" Iolaus struggled again, still angry, and Hercules gave him the merest shake, but it was enough to send the pain lancing again through his twisted arms. "Is that what you want?" he added softly, his voice belying the force he was exerting to keep Iolaus down. "You want me to prove to you I care by hurting you? Break down and lose control, so you can believe I'm not detached? C'mon, Iolaus, you know better than that. If you want force, I'll give you force. If you want *me* to impose some solution to this impasse and lay down the law, I will. But I will *never* *ever* lose my temper with you to the point that I'm out of control. Understand?"

Iolaus nodded wearily, allowing his body to relax into Hercules' unbreakable grip. He felt oddly safe, confirmed in his knowledge that no matter how much he pushed the son of Zeus, he could trust him not to injure him. He wondered if that was one reason he'd found Hercules' godhood so threatening; the demigod had always been far better at controlling his impulses than his divine family members, and Iolaus wondered if a full god, even Hercules, would be capable of self-control. And he did want the demigod's force, and he did want the demigod's solution. He wanted Hercules to take charge, to take *responsibility* for their relationship. If he was willing to take that kind of responsibility, then he did indeed care.

"Now, will you listen to me?" asked Hercules.

"Yes, Herc," said Iolaus softly. Hercules released his grip on the hunter's arms, removed his knee from his back, and easily flipped him over before pulling him up into a sitting position. He grasped Iolaus' wrists, one in each hand, holding him firmly. Iolaus wasn't going anywhere soon, and he looked directly into the demigod's troubled blue eyes.

Hercules continued. "I have only one answer to all this. I know I've hurt you, and let you down, and taken you for granted--again and again. You have no reason to trust me; I know that. I have no *words* that will make you trust me. I have no way of earning your trust except through my actions. And I can only do that if you take the risk of giving me a chance, a real chance. I can't take half-steps with you, Iolaus. I love you too much to be cautious and play games and go through some elaborate courtship. If I'm worth that risk to you, then I'll give you everything I have to give. And I'll *make* you mine because you were right the other day--I want all of you. It's got to be all or nothing--do you see that? I ask you again, will you have me, Iolaus?"

A slow grin began to spread across Iolaus' face. "Yes, Hercules, I'll have you, and you'll have me. All of me. Any way you want me. I have to take that risk. I love you. I've wanted you for so long, I *have* to give this a fighting chance."

"I'm glad you said that," said Hercules with a warm, conspiratorial smile, "because I was hoping to start proving to you just how much I want *you*." Iolaus' hands were still clenched into fists. Hercules brought them up to his mouth and laid a kiss on each one. Then he licked his way between each finger with his strong tongue, forcing them apart until Iolaus' fingers were spread. Iolaus shuddered with lust. Still tightly gripping Iolaus' wrists, Hercules twirled his tongue around the tip of one index finger, then sucked it into his mouth, savoring it with his lips and tongue.

Iolaus could feel his cock stirring, but he wasn't entirely ready to capitulate yet. The fight had released some of the hurt that had built up over the years, but certainly not all of it. "Y'know," he said hesitantly, "I'm still kind of mad at you, Herc."

"I know," said Hercules quietly, gazing into Iolaus' brilliant blue eyes and releasing his wrists. "What do you want me to do about it?"

"Oh, you can do whatever you want with me--didn't I hear you say you were going to *make* me yours, hero? Just don't expect me to make it easy for you any time soon."

Hercules smiled, his eyes glinting dangerously. "Oh, I can play *that* game, my friend."

He made a half-hearted attempt to reach for Iolaus, knowing Iolaus would try to evade him. Iolaus rolled away and sprung to his feet in one fluent motion. Hercules also stood up, taking his time. Iolaus ran for a nearby tree, and as Hercules came after him, a slightly exasperated look on his face, Iolaus leapt to grab a branch and swung out with his legs, striking Hercules in the chest and toppling him into the stream. Iolaus leapt out of his perch and took off running across the grass, a broad grin on his face. Hercules, meanwhile, scrambled out of the water, shaking his wet hair out of his face. His wet shirt clung to his skin, and his leather pants and boots weighed heavy against his legs.

He could, however, run fast when he wanted to, and he took off after Iolaus with a growl. Iolaus turned around, skipping backward, and laughed, "I like that look on you, Herc. You should get wet more often." Hercules charged the hunter, who turned around and ran again, but the demigod soon caught up with him.

He was smiling, his eyes crinkling with amusement. "Well, *this* time, I believe, it's *your* turn." He grabbed Iolaus, grasped him by the belt and the back of his vest and flung him across the grass and into the stream. Iolaus sputtered madly when he surfaced, then began swimming away. Hercules leapt into the water again, swimming after him. As he caught up with his prey, he paused, treading water, and Iolaus did an underwater somersault and plunged between Hercules' legs, swimming back in the other direction. Hercules sighed in exasperation, then propelled himself forward, finally grabbing Iolaus' legs and pulling him to a stop.

Iolaus found his arms being pulled behind his back and his body being pushed toward the bank. Then he was force marched out of the water. He struggled in the demigod's grasp, but Hercules had both of Iolaus' wrists locked into one inescapable hand. He effortlessly pulled the hunter around to face him, then grasped a handful of wet, blond hair, drawing Iolaus' head toward him. He merely brushed Iolaus' lips with his own, the featherlight touch contrasting startlingly with the rigid grip of his hands. Frustrated, Iolaus tried to pull his head away, and Hercules tightened his grip in his hair. He bent over the shorter man, kissing him lightly, then tracing the shape of his lips with the tip of his tongue. Iolaus forget his soaking clothes; the temperature rising inside him countered the cold and clammy leather clinging to his skin.

Suddenly, Hercules jerked Iolaus up against him, raiding his mouth with his tongue. The damp skin of their chests seemed to fuse together, heating up the space between them, while Iolaus sucked fiercely on the tongue that invaded his mouth. He had never been quite so conscious of the demigod's greater height, as that unyielding hand in his hair pulled his head back to the right angle, straining his neck muscles. Iolaus moaned when Hercules' tongue withdrew from his mouth, but the demigod sucked the hunter's lower lip into his mouth, tasting it thoroughly before closing his teeth on it. Iolaus deliberately tried to pull away, driving Hercules to bite down harder and draw blood.

"Iolaus?" asked Hercules, pausing in his ravishment of Iolaus' mouth.

"I did that on purpose, Herc," said Iolaus firmly, locking eyes with his partner.

Hercules' eyes widened momentarily, then drawn by the drop of blood that shimmered on Iolaus' lip, he once again dove for the hunter's mouth, his teeth once again imprisoning that tantalizing lip, his tongue flicking over the tiny gash. The tiny drops of blood seemed to explode on his taste buds, making the demigod ferocious with desire. He growled, still worrying Iolaus' lip, then plunged his tongue back into the tender mouth, while Iolaus rocked his hips against Hercules' powerful thighs. Hercules released his grip on Iolaus' hair, only to sink his fingers into the hunter's upper arm. Iolaus writhed at the fire that pulsed into his skin from those five points, as Hercules pressed harder into flesh and muscle, unleashing enough of his strength to leave five fingertip-shaped bruises on Iolaus' skin.

Hercules finally released Iolaus' mouth, and slung the hunter over his shoulder, carrying him over to the tree. Iolaus thought this was probably his last chance to get any fight in, and he resented being carried like a sack, his head dangling over the demigod's tempting ass. Grinning to himself, he grabbed Hercules' belt and yanked upward sharply. He heard Hercules' sharp intake of breath, and then a smooth voice saying, "Oh, you will *pay* for that, old buddy. Just you wait." He deposited Iolaus at the foot of the tree, pinning him against it with a firm hand on Iolaus' chest, while he fished in his pocket for a length of leather twine. Then he moved behind the tree, pulling Iolaus' arms behind him and around the slim trunk, binding them with twine.

"Are you always so prepared, Herc?" demanded the hunter, grinning cheekily.

"It never hurts to have a good bit of twine," answered Hercules abstractedly, while contemplating the sight before him. Iolaus tested the bonds, knowing in advance that he had lost this particular battle. Hercules kicked Iolaus' legs apart, exerting the minimum force he needed to

accomplish his purpose, then squatted down in the space created, immediately in front of Iolaus. He smiled, shaking his head slightly, and said, "Now *what* am I going to do with you? I hope you realize you are in *serious* trouble."

Iolaus responded with a vigorous raspberry, which earned him a light slap across the cheek. "Oh, gods . . . " he murmured, all teasing and kidding drained away to be replaced by a stunned awe and a renewed throbbing in his cock.

Hercules was rocked with a corresponding surge of desire and need. "I have

to take you," he whispered urgently. "I have to take all of you, claim all of you, bend you to my will. Maybe that's the god in me speaking, but I have to reshape you as *mine* and mine alone."

Iolaus only nodded, his lips parted and his eyes wide. Hercules adjusted his position so he was kneeling between Iolaus' legs, leaning in to claim his mouth again. Then he rocked back, wanting to explore the bounty before

him with his hands. He laid a hand on Iolaus' throat, feeling the life pulsing against his palm, and Iolaus thrilled at the contact with all that reined-in strength. Hercules cupped Iolaus' jaw in the other hand, brushing his thumb across his cheek, then suddenly thrust it into Iolaus' mouth. Iolaus' lips locked around it, sucking hard, while the demigod's firm hand lightly pressed against his throat. Hercules' eyes bored deep into Iolaus', while he slid his thumb maddeningly in and out of the yearning mouth. When he pulled it out for good, only to splay his hands across Iolaus' chest, the hunter eyed him narrowly, saying, "You know, Herc, I'm forging you into what *I* want just as surely as you're shaping me."

"I know," said the demigod quietly, one corner of his mouth quirking into the merest smile. "Believe me, I'm not even trying to kid myself about who's the strong one here." Iolaus flashed a grin at him in acknowledgment of his admission, and Hercules added, "But you're still in trouble." He raised his eyebrows, widening his smile, saying, "and you're not going anywhere until *I* say so." With his fingertips he roamed the hard planes and and slightly rounded curves of Iolaus' chest, then latched onto a nipple with each hand, pressing them between his thumb and forefinger, then rolling them slowly and deliberately, with a steadily increasing pressure.

Iolaus moaned and strained against his bonds, as the shooting pain from his nipples seared its way deeply inside him, igniting a network of nerves that ran directly to his aching cock. Hercules' control was exquisite, and he maintained an unrelenting grip on Iolaus' blazing nipples as he continued to press and twist them. Tears sprang into the hunter's eyes. He felt his cock straining vainly against its increasingly uncomfortable prison. His entire body was being kindled by the flames spreading from his nipples. Every muscle was rigid and trembling with the imperative for release, for an outlet for all the energy surging through him. But he was bound and immobilized, only able to move his legs. Without realizing it, he was moving them in a constant rhythm along the ground, flexing and straightening them under a compulsion that had taken utter possession of him.

Iolaus' vision blurred. He was lost in a haze of sensation, white-hot desire consuming him, and through the silver flames that seemed to dance before his eyes, he saw the satisfied smile of the man who claimed him. Suddenly he gasped, as his nipples were freed, and blood rushed into them.

Through his swimming eyes, he saw Hercules stripping off his clothes. Then Iolaus was being untied and laid back against the grass, his elbows bent and his hands clasped together and held right above his head. He looked up and saw Hercules' thighs straddling him. "I want your mouth," said a soft voice, an edge of menace underlying its very softness. Iolaus quivered with desire, parting his lips for the thick, long shaft which approached them. The head paused at the boundary of his mouth, and he reached out with his tongue to capture it, swirling around it in eager strokes.

He heard an impatient rumble above him and opened his mouth to accept the unyielding invader. He sucked on it greedily, his mouth filled. Looming above him was the the demigod's torso with its covering of dark curls. A feeling of awe washed over him as his mouth worked. How long had he imagined just this moment? How long had he fantasized about taking that semi-divine organ into his mouth? The skin was so smooth against his tongue, like wet silk, but it was wrapped around a rigid, tumescent core. He felt transfixed, and wondered how he would ever accommodate it in his ass. His efforts soon paid off, and he felt Hercules' cock thrusting into his mouth, pouring liquid fire down his throat.

Hercules came without ever releasing his grasp on Iolaus' wrists. The demigod, still breathing hard, moved so he was sitting next to Iolaus, who felt a proprietary hand over his crotch and thrust against it futilely. Hercules only laughed and said, "OK, let's go home."

"Home?" squealed Iolaus.

"Home," replied the demigod with calm certainty.

"But Herc, I'm as hard as a rock."

"I know," said Hercules, his mouth quirking in a smile.


Iolaus couldn't remember the walk home ever taking so long or being so agonizing. Every so often, Hercules would whirl around to face him, haul him forward by his vest, and yank him up to his toes for a kiss, while one hand made a firm upward grab at Iolaus' crotch or, just as firmly, squeezed his ass.

"Herc!" gasped Iolaus after one of these interruptions to their progress, "I'm starting to think I didn't know you nearly as well as I thought. This is a side of you that's new to me."

The demigod smiled. "You bring it out in me, Iolaus."

"Yeah?" asked Iolaus, grinning mischievously, "I'm glad to know I'm so . . . inspiring."

"That's *one* way of putting it," commented Hercules dryly, while making another grab for Iolaus' aching cock through his pants. Then suddenly, Hercules grabbed Iolaus by both arms, his face serious. "Iolaus . . . how do I say this? . . . you reach something so deep inside me I didn't even know it was there . . . but it's familiar at the same time, like it was *always* there. It frightens me a little."

"It should," Iolaus answered with equal seriousness. "But that's no reason to run away from it either, Herc. It's who we are, and what we want. And none of this is going to be easy, my love." Then a grin snuck back on his face. "In fact, for me right now, it's downright hard."

Hercules had nodded with acceptance and understanding during Iolaus' words, but shifted easily into a lighter tone. He looked pointedly at the bulge in Iolaus' pants and said, "Yes, and for now, I intend to keep it that way."

Iolaus' legs were shaky by the time they finally reached the forge. His tense muscles were protesting this enforced state of unfulfilled arousal. Hercules dragged Iolaus into the small bedroom and ordered him to strip, while he tugged off his own clothes.

"Now," said Hercules, as he pushed Iolaus onto the bed, "the question is, are you going to behave yourself, or am I going to have to tie you down again?"

"I'll behave . . . for now," replied Iolaus.

"Good. I'd hate to leave *this*"--here he wrapped a hand around Iolaus' cock--"unsatisfied. Now hold on to the bed frame. I want your hands out of the way."

Iolaus complied, still aching with need, but unable to repress the smiles that kept making their way to his face.

"How are these doing?" asked the demigod, reaching again for Iolaus' nipples and pinching them carefully.

"Fine!" gasped the hunter. "A little sensitive."

"Really?" asked Hercules, raising his eyebrows. "So . . . " he mused, "if I did *this*"--smacking one nipple sharply with his hand--"you'd really feel it?"

"Uh-huh," answered Iolaus, his eyes widening.

"Good." Hercules smacked the other nipple and was gratified to hear a long "Ahhhhh" escape the hunter's mouth. He focused on Iolaus with an intense concentration that suggested that he was entranced with every aspect of the body before him, and he intended to explore its resources thoroughly and repeatedly. Another couple of smacks in the same places sent ripples of heat through Iolaus' chest. And his aching cock was as hard as ever. After Hercules experimented with Iolaus' nipples for a while, increasing the force of each smack incrementally, while occasionally inserting an unexpected light pat, the hunter was in another agony of arousal and frustration.

"I don't know if I can stand it, Herc," he pleaded. "Maybe you'd better tie my hands--I don't think I can keep them still."

"Try harder," said Hercules shortly. "I never promised to make this easy for you."

Iolaus nodded, his eyes shining, clasping his hands firmly above his head, one hand grasping the other wrist. "I love you, Herc," he whispered, "you know you can do whatever you want with me."

"I love you, too," said Hercules quietly, "and I *intend* to do whatever I want with you. And you know what?" he said with a grin, "I've always wanted to do *this*!" He reached for Iolaus' armpits, and began tickling him. Iolaus couldn't help fighting back, trying to block the demigod's maddening fingers, but of course, Hercules grabbed his wrists and pinned them and proceeded to tickle Iolaus all over, from his armpits along his sides and across his stomach. When he stopped, Iolaus had tears running from his eyes from helpless laughter, and the hardness of his cock hadn't abated at all. He had long imagined that being helpless and in Hercules' control would be intoxicating, and his imagination had been accurate.

Hercules finally sat down between Iolaus' legs, shoving them farther apart. He kept Iolaus shaking with need and utterly off-balance with his attentions to his cock and balls, in a way that Iolaus never knew what kind of touch would come next. Sometimes it was a sharp slap to his cock; sometimes it was a fingertip dragged lightly up the underside; sometimes it was a squeeze to his balls, hard enough to make him quiver and pant, but not hard enough to hurt in any serious way; sometimes it was a hard pinch to the tip of Iolaus' cock; sometimes it was a tongue inserted into the slit and swirling around the head.

At one point, Hercules got up and rummaged among his things, pulling out a bird's feather he had picked up along the way back. He tickled the hunter's cock and balls with the feather, and Iolaus emitted a strangled groan. A light touch was the *last* thing he wanted. But just when he was getting used to the feather fluttering about him, a slap or a pinch would shock him back into hyper-awareness.

Suddenly and without warning, he found himself flipped over on his stomach.

He whimpered with frustration when he felt the feather making its way down his spine and being drawn between his buttocks, teasing the sensitive opening to his body. The feather was followed by a firm finger tracing his spine, and then a mouth kissing and licking its way along the same path. Hercules then focused his attention on the dimple at the base of Iolaus' spine. At first he circled it with a fingertip just barely grazing the skin; then he used his tongue the same way.

Iolaus was rubbing against the sheets, his erect organ desperate for friction. When Hercules noticed this, he gave the hunter a solid spank, ordering, "Stop that! Unless you want to be tied up and left frustrated all night."

Iolaus subsided, grumbling. His attention was soon taken up by Hercules spreading his buttocks apart and tickling his puckered opening with the feather. The feather was soon replaced by a teasing finger that circled the outside. Iolaus was aching to be penetrated. As the finger traced its tormenting spirals, he felt himself twitching with the desire to be filled. "Will you just *get* on with it?" he exploded.

"*That*," said the demigod calmly, "was a mistake, Iolaus. I meant it when I said I was going to bend you to my will. You're going to learn to wait until *I'm* good and ready." He smacked the hunter again and said, "Up on your knees and elbows. Now."

The quiet voice meant business, and Iolaus scrambled to comply, glad that he could conceal the smile on his lips in the pillows. He heard Hercules moving around and glanced back. The demigod had gotten his belt, and was grasping the buckle and wrapping part of the leather around his hand.

Iolaus slowly exhaled, settling himself into a receptive pose, spreading his legs wider. The first crack of the leather on his buttocks sent a shock through him, a flash of pain erupting where the blow had struck. Blood surged to his cock, and he wondered if he might explode from pressure. The next blow landed, and he gasped, only realizing belatedly that he should exhale when the belt struck. He craned his head around to look at Hercules and was struck again with awe at the beauty of the demigod's body. His movements were fluent and controlled as he snapped the belt against Iolaus' ass. Hercules was hard too, but it didn't seem to be distracting him. Iolaus almost forgot to breathe in his contemplation of the awe-inspiring sight. He thought about the fact that Hercules could probably drive him right through the wall with that belt, and a renewed admiration for the demigod's perfect control of his strength broke upon him.

His buttocks were flaming, it seemed, and his cock throbbed, but the rest of his body was loose and relaxed. He realized just how much he craved Hercules' force; his own need and stubbornness and resistance all shattered against that force, leaving him open and malleable and in a state of utter surrender. The blows stopped landing, and the belt was tossed across the room. "You're going to have to demonstrate some patience," explained Hercules serenely, but firmly. "I want you to stay there--just the way you are--until I tell you differently."

"Yes, Hercules," whispered Iolaus.

Hercules smiled, knowing he had won--for now. He lightly draped himself in a chair in Iolaus' line of sight, threw one leg over the arm of the chair, and began stroking his own cock, with enough pressure to keep it interesting but not enough to bring himself off. Iolaus watched, entranced, through the blurry film over his eyes. He couldn't remember ever hungering for anything more than to have that cock inside his body, but he quelled any expression of impatience. Hercules wouldn't be satisfied with anything but total surrender. Agonizing minutes passed. Hercules was contentedly pleasuring himself, and Iolaus' legs were beginning to quiver from the tension of being spread apart, his back arched.

He was crying freely by the time Hercules got up, collected a vial of oil, and knelt behind him on the bed. He pulled Iolaus up, so he rested on his hands rather than his elbows, then poured some oil on his own fingers. With carefully strokes, he spread oil over Iolaus' opening, then finally slipped one fingertip inside. "Gods, Herc," whispered Iolaus, "I *need* you so much. I've wanted you for so long. I need you to fill me completely."

"I will, but you have to be patient just a little while longer. I'm opening you up, so you can let me in."

"Ohhh," moaned the hunter.

"You're so hot inside," murmured Hercules, sliding one finger in and out.

"I thought that was your finger," gasped Iolaus.

Hercules inserted another finger, stretching Iolaus gently, while his free hand played along Iolaus' hip and thigh. Iolaus was swept with yet another one of those sensations of how surreal and awe-inspiring it was to have a long-cherished desire come true. He had been in this position before, but somehow it was different. He felt raw and open and exposed. Even if he'd wanted to, he couldn't have detached himself the way he often did with casual partners. Forgoing that detachment was dangerous; he'd learned *that* with Xena. And he couldn't help feeling it was dangerous now too. Hercules was maintaining such superb control that Iolaus couldn't help fearing, just a little, that he wasn't as involved, that he was still maintaining a godlike distance. But Iolaus gave a mental shrug--it was too late to back down now. Another finger joined the first two in a wedge, spreading him further, opening a passageway into his body, and *this* time, with *this* lover, into his soul as well.

The fingers withdrew, leaving Iolaus feeling deflated and abandoned, but Hercules was only stroking oil over his own erection. As the head of the demigod's cock pressed against his anus and began pushing inside, it was all Iolaus could do to stop himself from throwing his body backward, taking it all in at once. But he knew Hercules was right to be taking this slow, and he did, entering Iolaus slowly but inexorably. And it burned, and the heat was consuming him from inside, melting his muscles and dissolving his legs, and Hercules' hands were on his hips supporting him, holding him up, and it burned, and it hurt, and he wanted more.

And more was what he got when the demigod's cock had sunk entirely inside him. Hercules began to fuck Iolaus slowly, each stroke nudging that spot inside him that made him delirious with pleasure mingled with pain. Hercules tightened his grip on Iolaus' hip with one hand, reaching the other around to cup Iolaus' balls, lightly squeezing them in rhythm with each slow thrust of his cock. Iolaus whimpered and sobbed--how long had he been wanting just this to happen?

"Brace yourself," said Hercules quietly, and suddenly he began pounding into Iolaus hard, each ramrod thrust stabbing into his very heart, while all his veins ignited. Iolaus looked back at his lover, and the sight of Hercules ravaging his body, his teeth bared with the ferocity of battle and his long hair being restlessly tossed back over his shoulder, made him, if anything, fall in love with the demigod more. He didn't know if it was possible to feel more aroused, but the tension inside him was building up with each exquisitely agonizing burning stroke along the narrow passage inside him, every nerve pulsing and throbbing. He was so, so close, but Hercules knew the same tricks Nebula did, and a firm finger located the right spot and pressed hard.

Iolaus screamed "HERRRRC!" in frustration.

"Sorry!" gasped Hercules, "but I have plans for that." Then Hercules roared in climax, ramming Iolaus with the force of his spasms and pouring his essence into his lover.

He withdrew slowly, rolling off Iolaus onto his back, and Iolaus saw that he had tears flowing from his eyes. "I need you inside me, love!" he moaned. "I need you to fuck me, to come inside me this time." Hercules pulled his own legs wide apart, hooking his elbows around the inside of his knees to spread them wider, offering his own opening to his lover. Iolaus knelt between Hercules' legs, hurriedly grabbed the vial of oil, copiously anointed his hand and his own eager cock, which was throbbing and aching with unfulfilled need. He prepared the demigod's anus with shaky fingers, creating a slick passage. "I. Want. It. Hard," enunciated Hercules through clenched teeth. "Don't go slow."

Iolaus grimaced,"I don't think I *can* go slow, Herc." He positioned his cock against Hercules' anus, pushed the head inside and thrust with all his strength, driving all the way in with one stroke. Hercules grabbed him under the arms, pulling him up to his mouth and wrapping his strong legs around Iolaus' waist; their bodies slid wetly along each other, as Hercules plunged his tongue halfway down Iolaus' throat. Iolaus' cock, so long denied, was enveloped in friction and heat and explosive pressure. He hurled his hips at Hercules with every stroke, his balls colliding with the demigod's buttocks. His climax broke over him in thunderous waves, obliterating and shattering him with its force. He yelled himself hoarse, as Hercules' strong muscles worked his cock, draining it of every drop of seed. "I love you, Herc," he gasped, latching onto Hercules' mouth for a breathless kiss.

When he came back to earth and finally released Hercules' mouth, Iolaus went to fetch some water and cloths for some cleanup. He bathed his lover's cock reverently, bending over, his hair a golden nimbus obscuring his face. After quickly tending to himself and putting things away, he looked up to see the demigod in tears. "Herc?" he asked gently.

"I've been such a fool, Iolaus," Hercules began, pulling Iolaus tightly into his arms, and letting his tears wet the blonde curls, as he buried his face in Iolaus' hair. "I've been so scared of my feelings for you--not just that I love you, but the *way* I love you. I've wanted to *possess* you, take you, make you mine so thoroughly that you never for a second forgot you belonged to me--even if you were with someone else. I wanted belonging to me to be the most important thing in your life. And it scared me. I figured that's how the gods feel about their human lovers. And no one else ever made me feel that way. I was afraid I'd swallow you up, and so I turned to people who didn't bring out that need to possess, people I could live without. I can't live without *you*. When I went to Olympus, I figured that out pretty quick."

Iolaus stroked the broad chest of his lover, his fingers gently combing through the curls. "Herc, my love, my lover, I can't live without you either. But listen to yourself. When you say you were afraid you'd swallow me up, listen to how arrogant that sounds. I'm who I am; you can't change that. And who I am is defined by many things, but the most important has always been loving you. You won't swallow me up, and I won't

lose myself in you. Belonging to you will just let me be myself in a way I've always desired. And if you think I can't stand up to you and hold my own, you're full of shit."

"You're right--about all of it," responded Hercules, pressing his lips to Iolaus' forehead. "I didn't think of it that way. It never was you I was doubting, and, believe me, I *know* you can hold your own. I was just afraid of what it said about me--to want you that way."

"Why? Because you need and want someone so much you have to possess him? Isn't that what you're really afraid of? That kind of need is your human side, Herc. It was when you kept me at arm's length to avoid facing your feelings that you were acting like the gods--like Zeus with Alcmene. I'm not going to let you off the hook the way she did with him. I'll give myself to you body, heart, and soul, any way you want me, but you're going to have to be honest with me and yourself--not just right now, but always. If you're not, if you start backing off again, I'll push you, Herc, right to the wall. Don't doubt that for a moment."

Hercules smiled. "Gods, I love you, Iolaus. There are plenty of times I wish there was less of my father in me. I need that. I need you to bring me back to earth if I start acting like him. I . . . I want to be worthy of what you're offering me, love."

Iolaus grinned radiantly. "Then keep *showing* me how much you need me, *show* me how much you love me like you did today. I needed that--all of it. I've been craving it for so long--your force, your strength, your power. You're going to have to *make* me yours again and again--because I have to know you need me enough to make the effort. Take me hard so I can just let go and put myself in your hands."

"Like this?" asked Hercules, pushing Iolaus onto his back, brushing his thumb across his cheek and cupping his jaw before diving in for a prolonged kiss, his lips forcing Iolaus' mouth open, and his tongue roughly invading it.

"Unh-hunhhh!" responded Iolaus, his mouth filled with Hercules' questing tongue.

"Like this?" asked Hercules, pinching Iolaus' inner thigh between his thumb and forefinger, twisting and wrenching until he left a bruise.

"Uh-HUH!" yelped Iolaus, as pain blossomed on the spot the demigod claimed, sending fiery tendrils through his all of his nerves.

"Like this?" asked Hercules, bending to take a nipple between his teeth, gripping it firmly while he flicked it with his tongue.

"Uh-huh" gasped Iolaus, his breath rushing out of his lungs.

"Like this?" asked Hercules, twining his fingers in Iolaus' pubic hair and tugging hard.

"Yeah! That too!" exclaimed Iolaus, his eyes watering from the sharp pull against his sensitive skin.

"Like this?" asked Hercules, enclosing Iolaus' hardening cock in his mouth, while slipping three fingers in his ass.

"Ohhhh yeahhh!" groaned Iolaus, his body flaring again with sensation. He was overwhelmed by the feeling of that strong mouth pulling and sucking at his cock, while his anus was fiercely plundered by three fingers slamming in and out. Pain and pleasure fused with a feeling of being utterly possessed and all-consumingly loved. He erupted in climax, spilling his seed into his lover's mouth, then felt himself gathered into a pair of powerful arms.

"Now did I prove to you that I need you?" asked Hercules, his eyes bright with joy.

"Yeah, you did," answered Iolaus with a brilliant smile, "But don't think I'm ever going to let you stop."

The End

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