"From each according to his abilities,
To each according to his needs"
- Karl Marx
It was a room like many others through Greece. Hot and airless with a tiny window which failed to catch the cooling breezes outside. A bed dominated the available space, large enough to sleep a family of peasants. Its sole point of interest was the man to whom the room was the limits of his world.
Even on his hands and knees, forced into service for others’ pleasure, he was beautiful. Amongst the hardened men and women selling their bodies for a living, he stood out like a pedigreed stallion in a herd of wild horses. It wasn’t obvious to the casual eye - his eyes were downcast and his body slumped in tiredness, but somehow the fire was still there in the glorious lines of his torso. To the discerning observer, at least.
Ares prided himself on knowing men. Partly it was his job; partly his passion. Either way, he’d spent centuries observing, testing, interacting, manipulating. He’d never taken much notice of Iphicles in his own universe. As King of Corinth he had been a creditable war leader, but too prone to Hercules’ interference. Oh, he might rebel against Hercules’ moralising for a short period of time, but the demigod always wore him down sooner or later. It was wasteful in terms of both time and resources to expend effort in encouraging a war which Hercules could stop in the space of a few choice words. Neighbouring kingdoms were loath to take on both Iphicles and Hercules, despite Ares’ promises of aid.
His eyes drifting over Iphicles’ body, Ares noticed that the men Iphicles was servicing had just about reached the limit of their endurance. With one final thrust, his first customer stiffened and rammed himself home in Iphicles’ ass just as his friend filled Iphicles’ lush mouth with his seed, groaning. Slowly they withdrew from his body, not sparing a glance at the man kneeling on the bed, panting. Leaving a few coins on the stained sheets, they dressed and abandoned the tiny room which was Iphicles’ world.
As Ares watched, Iphicles slumped down onto the bed, sweat stained and tired. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand he grimaced at the stickiness of his body and reached for a wine flask by the bed, drinking deeply. He replaced the flask and rolled onto his side, not bothering to pull any covering over himself in the oven-like heat of the day. He was asleep in moments.
Ares pondered on what made a man - this one seemed little different from the proud King of Corinth, but something had changed. Perhaps this universe’s Hercules allowed no competition - not even from a half brother - and had sold him into slavery. Perhaps his own bad choices had resulted in his serving in this low class whorehouse. Whatever had brought Iphicles to this place, it was plain that this was where he would spend the rest of his days unless something changed his life. If Iphicles was enough of a realist he would understand - and with luck, be properly grateful to his rescuer. Perhaps in more ways than one.
Making himself visible, Ares lowered himself to the room’s single chair and waited. And dreamed.
Iphicles woke groggily. Something was wrong. Usually by now he’d have been wakened by another client, sometimes gently or all too often by a kick to the ribs. He rarely woke before he had to, preferring to lose himself in the arms of Morpheus. He stretched, feeling his ribs creak as he did and rolled over onto his side, ready to lift his aching body from the bed. Ignoring the complaints of stiff and abused muscles, he sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, then froze in place as he realised he was not alone.
Sitting across from the bed was one of the most gorgeous men Iphicles had ever seen. Dark, brooding, dangerous. A full, generous mouth made for love and cheekbones highlighted by the sable hair that framed his face. A body which filled the chair in which he sat, black leather enhancing every muscle. Men like that didn’t need to come to brothels. Not unless they wanted something that no lover would give freely. Something that would most likely leave Iphicles battered and bruised, hating himself more than ever for spending his life at the mercy of hard men.
Iphicles closed his eyes briefly as if in prayer and then looked again at the man with the face of an fallen angel. "What is your desire, lord ?"
Iphicles had never seen the face of this universe’s God of Love - that comparison at least Ares would be spared. But he clearly thought Ares to be his customer. Ares looked at the man on the bed and knew he would need to handle this carefully if he wanted a willing partner in crime. He smiled, noting the barely hidden fear and wariness and moved gracefully from the chair to seat himself on the edge of the bed, making no sudden movements. The two men studied each other for a few moments.
Pleased with what he saw, Ares raised a hand and trailed a fingertip down the side of Iphicles’ face, seeing the fear subside but not disappear. "I need your help," he murmured softly. He lowered his gaze, trying hard to seem unthreatening. It was not something that came naturally to him. "I can get you out of here, if you are willing to help me."
Hope warred with suspicion on Iphicles’ countenance, making him seem sullen. Ares did not hurry to reassure him - any man who had spent time working in a place like this would distrust anything that seemed too good to be true. But surely he would have the sense to see that anything that freed him from this brothel must be a step in the right direction.
"Why me?" asked Iphicles. It was the right question. Not what was required - that would come in time. But at least he had not been so beaten down by his life servicing all comers that he didn’t retain enough intelligence to ask a question that that a good chance of being answered truthfully.
Ares smiled again, more seductively this time, leaned close to Iphicles’ ear and gently breathed, "Because you’re the only one who can do it." He leaned back slowly, maintaining eye contact. "And because you’re wasted here on these pigs. You deserve more than to be the plaything of mercenaries and other trash."
Iphicles considered the words, reassessing his visitor in terms of this new knowledge. Not just another sociopath looking for a paid victim then. Or at least if he was, surely one man was better than multiple users.
With a suddenness that surprised Ares, Iphicles nodded abruptly. "I’ll do it. Whatever it takes."
He offered his arm to shake on it, warrior-style, proving that whatever he was now, he had once been more. Ares grasped the arm firmly and stood, drawing the other man up with him. Wasting no further time in this sordid whorehouse, he transported both of them in a flash of light.
Iphicles reeled. One moment in the cramped room of his workplace, the next in a room with every imaginable luxury. Fabrics for which he had no names, soft and inviting furniture. Fresh food with tantalising aromas. Sunlight streaming in through large windows. All the things he missed most - apart from his freedom. He was clean too, all traces of his last customers removed from his naked body. He turned swiftly around, to his benefactor, surprised.
"Better, yes ?" The question was clearly rhetorical. Ares allowed him no time for questions of his own, laying his hand across Iphicles’ full lips. "Can you be a king ?" he asked. "Perhaps you need to remember how to be a man first - not just a toy for others to enjoy." He moved his hand slowly, caressingly from Iphicles’ full lips, along the line of his jaw and tangled it in the bright red-gold hair. With sudden violence, he dragged his head forward and claimed a kiss, pulling Iphicles’ unresisting body against his own. Drawing upon his decades of experience, he fought to make Iphicles’ jaded senses respond.
Only a dead man could have withstood a determined God of War and Iphicles was far from that. He struggled with almost forgotten sensations. The god’s hands on his face, his shoulders, his chest. Stroking, teasing, tracing a pattern of desire of his tingling skin. For so many years his body had been devoted only to the pleasures of others, a convenient receptacle for their cocks, a plaything for them indulge their lust. For the first time in many years, he wanted to hear another man moan at his touch. He reached out tentatively and stroked the broad shoulders, scraping his fingernails down, digging into his lover’s skin as Ares pulled him tighter in response.
Iphicles stiffened, almost frightened by the ardour of Ares’ embrace, but the god gave him no chance to back away. He ruthlessly inflamed Iphicles’ body, caressing and biting, driving him into a frenzy of lust. He trailed a hand lightly over Iphicles’ cock, then ground his own hardened flesh against it.
‘Take your clothes off…please," Iphicles pleaded.
Ares grunted, pleased to have a willing partner at last and shrugged out of his vest. Vanishing his boots with a thought, he indicated his black leather trousers with a hand gesture that said ‘all yours’. Iphicles responded, running his hands over the leather, clearly enjoying its texture. His fingers softly touched Ares’ cock through the leather. He stroked gently at first, then slipped the leather pants down.
Dropping to his knees, Iphicles captured Ares’ cock with his mouth, swirling his tongue strongly against it. For the first time in years, he was enjoy the prelude to sex, not hurrying it along or just enduring it. He wanted to feel the power of making this man groan at the touch of his skilled hands, to writhe uncontrollably at the feeling of his cock being swallowed deep into his wet, warm mouth.
He lashed his tongue around Ares’ cock, then drawing it deeper, swallowing as much as he could before pulling back and starting the cycle again.
Glancing up, he saw Ares’ eyes were closed in bliss, lips drawn back in a snarl. But Ares had no intention of allowing Iphicles to retain the submissive position on his knees. After only a few minutes he drew Iphicles upwards, taking his breath away with more hot, demanding kisses. Iphicles responded with ardour, driving his fingernails into the god’s back, the pain provoking Ares further.
"I want to watch you come for me," he growled. "I want to drive deep into that beautiful ass of yours and listen to you beg for more." He guided his lover backwards to the bed set against one wall of the chamber then pinned him down with the weight of his body. Reaching for a vial of oil by the side of the bed, he coated first his hand then both their cocks with the gleaming liquid. Iphicles arched up against him at the sensation of Ares’ skilled hand on his skin.
Never taking his eyes away from Iphicles’ face, the god trailed his hand slowly across his straining balls and then worked a finger gently inside his lover. Iphicles moaned and pushed back against the hand, wordlessly begging for more. Ares responded by slipping another finger inside, trying hard to keep him pinned against the bed as Iphicles bucked his hips.
Gauging that he had sufficiently inflamed his partner, he withdrew his fingers and replaced them with his hard cock, smoothly pushing until he felt his balls against Iphicles’ ass cheeks. He paused for a moment, allowing Iphicles’ ass to accustom itself to his cock, then started pumping in and out, slowly at first, then faster. Iphicles writhed beneath him, maddened by the feel of Ares filling him. Ares moved his hand between their torsos and grasped Iphicles’ cock, his oil-slicked hand moving strongly up and down in time with his own thrusts. Iphicles could take only moments of this before climaxing, his convulsions setting off Ares’ own orgasm. Panting and sweating, Iphicles felt the weight of Ares’ body roll off him onto the bed beside him. He closed his eyes and drifted off.
His eyes opened slowly, heavy with sleep. Never normally quick to wake, his unusual surroundings sent a warning rush of adrenaline through his body, ready for fight or flight. Ares sat in a chair a few metres away watching him, fully clothed, his dark eyes unreadable. Iphicles felt uncomfortable. Waking up to someone was not something he had much experience with. Particularly when he didn’t even know that someone’s name. He knew of course that his bedmate was a god - nothing else could explain certain events of the night before - but which god? Religious scrolls were rarely so useful as to supply a spotter’s guide to the five most frequently sighted gods. He sighed, realising this was probably the least of his problems.
"My lord… ?" he asked tentatively
Ares looked at him straight faced. He had enjoyed watching Iphicles sleep. Less wary in repose, he seemed younger and more innocent somehow, yet certainly no innocent to the ways of the body. This was turning out to be more pleasurable than he had expected.
"Iphicles." The name was a caress, a hint of pleasure to come.
He made an effort and pulled his thoughts back to his plan. "I am Ares, God of War." He noted the confusion his statement had caused, and appreciated the attentive silence. It was the way of the warrior to wait for information to be presented instead of interrupting with the inane questions so many mortals would have asked. "Not your world’s Ares though, and not your God of War."
Ares stood, moving closer to the bed where Iphicles lay. "I have a task for you to do. If you perform well, you will never be any man’s slave ever again."
He smiled slightly and waved his hand over towards the previously ignored food. "Eat, drink. Allow me to tell you the story of a world unlike your own….."
"Simple clothes, I think…Don’t want the king thinking you’re ready to jump into his grave." Ares gestured towards a chest. Inside it Iphicles found a startlingly white shirt and black trousers, plain but well made. He dressed quickly, appreciating the softness of the fabric against his skin, then pulling on the boots also contained in the chest. Standing up, he barely caught a sword and scabbard that Ares tossed at him with no warning.
"You’ll do," was all the comment he received.
Iphicles lifted his chin. "I’m ready for whatever you want of me, Lord Ares."
A wicked grin made him realise that his words could be taken several ways.
"Business first, Iphicles…. then pleasure." The god’s eyes roamed over his body lazily. "First we have a king to persuade."
Ares had chosen his time well. Corinth’s king had been bored for months as his neighbours warred amongst themselves with border squabbles. Hercules was many days’ travel away. To a God practised in manipulating entire armies of mortals, King Iphicles was a shockingly easy mark. Ares had only to sketch for him an outline of the events in the alternate universe. Full of a desire to make a name for himself, used to standing in the shadow of his famous half brother, he was easily led to believe that only he could make a difference in a universe now deprived of its tyrannical ruler.
"You’re the man best suited to help them" argued Ares persuasively. "Your face isn’t known there as Hercules and Xena’s are, you have the experience in battle and the practical knowledge of how to rule."
He paused looking at the King’s face, so like his own Iphicles. "Of course, it’s not without its hazards - people you think you know will have completely different personalities over there. You’ll have to make a completely new start."
The King’s face lit up at that and Ares wondered if he knew just how easy to read he was. He played his trump card.
"You know Hercules couldn’t do this - but you can," he remarked casually. King Iphicles twitched as he said it and Ares knew he’d hit the mark with that comment. From there, it was just a matter of Iphicles overcoming any doubts he might have about leaving his kingdom.
"I’d have to make sure that Corinth wouldn’t suffer for my absence - appoint a Regent from the Council perhaps." King Iphicles was sold on the idea. Now to introduce the last part of the plan.
Ares beckoned the alternate universe Iphicles over from the shadows to stand by his side. "King Iphicles…. meet Iphicles."
The King stood stunned, looking over his double. "He’s from over there?" He stared, taken aback by the reality of the man who looked exactly the same as him. "So why do need me ? Can’t you get him to lead the rebellion?"
"I wouldn’t know where to start," answered Iphicles, truthfully.
Ares intervened smoothly. "He hasn’t had your experience." He smiled seductively at both Iphicles. "Organising and leading a revolution require more than good intentions. Dedication, devotion, hard work….."
Ares knew that all that followed would be details. The king had sold himself like any good customer.
The presence of an exact duplicate of himself would remove the need for any outside influences to informed of the King’s absence. Soon Corinth would have a new King. A more malleable king.
Once King Iphicles made up his mind, he wasted no time worrying. Completely focused on the task awaiting him in the alternate world, he passed on his own knowledge of Corinth’s governance in an abstracted manner. Iphicles had already received much of this information from Ares but it was still interesting to receive it from the source. The King wasted little time talking about his half-brother Hercules. When he did detail certain events in which Hercules figured, Iphicles received the impression that he was more resigned to his half-brother’s fame than proud of him.
The two men spent almost 24 hours a day together. Iphicles’ quick mind absorbed information by observation of the King, and by asking about subjects as diverse as the correct greeting for visiting dignitaries, the current fashions and even the local chariot racing teams. Pig breeding and politics alike, everything in this fresh new world was fuel for his inquiring mind. It was as if he was making up for the years of mental stagnation overnight.
After several days, King Iphicles was ready. Any vague misgivings had been soothed by the alternate Iphicles’ calmness and practicality, and by Ares’ cajolery. Not sharing Hercules’ distrust of the gods, he was flattered by the attentions of the God of War, trusting his judgement.
It was time. Ares opened the vortex between the worlds and vanished into it, an elated King Iphicles at his side.
Iphicles sat in the King’s study, alone for the first time in days. Logically he knew that the King would need Ares’ help contacting the rebellion, but he still experienced a tremor of fear. In company he had confidence; left to himself he could see all the possible pitfalls lining his road.
Someone knocked softly at the door, and entered at his hesitant invitation. The King’s secretary asking about the preparations for the next Council meeting. Iphicles squared his shoulders. He could do this. He must. He would not let Ares down.
The secretary left with the instructions he needed, not noticing anything out of the ordinary. Iphicles’ confidence increased with each contact throughout the following days, dealing firmly and calmly with all comers. Some palace staff were even heard to remark favourably on the King’s improved spirits. Even the King’s Council noticed nothing amiss, pleased by his willingness to consider their advice.
Yet another long day. More decisions than he’d ever had to make in his whole life. He was bone tired ; his only exercise had been an hour’s escape on horseback, yet he felt wrung out. He heaved a sigh and fell backwards on to his bed. With his eyes closed, he missed the flash of light which preceded the War God’s arrival.
"Had a hard day ?" inquired Ares acidly.
Iphicles twitched and sat up slowly. He inclined his head to Ares in a belated show of respect.
Ares was not pleased. After babysitting King Iphicles, checking on the progress of several small wars, reining in some of Discord’s excesses and dealing with one of his less mentally agile warlords, the last thing he wanted was apparent indifference on Iphicles’ part.
"I’m sorry Lord Ares…The Council has been in session most of the day. I have…."
Ares cut him off. "What progress have you made with the Argosians? They are preparing for war while you sit idle, wasting your time in negotiations they have no intention of honouring."
Iphicles swallowed a unwise retort and kept his temper under control with difficulty. The contrast between his Council and Court’s deference to him, and Ares’ treatment of him rankled. "We’re neither idle nor unprepared. The levies are being called up. We will be ready to fight and win."
Ares sneered at him "We ?….The royal ‘We’ already "
Iphicles continued, ignoring Ares’ irritability. "You agreed that I should not change the King’s behaviour too quickly. It’s what he would have done." He got to his feet, unwilling to argue with Ares whilst in a less than commanding position.
Ares hissed angrily. "If I wanted his peacemongering ways, I would have left you to rot in that brothel, Iphicles." He paced up and down the bedchamber, black leather creaking as he approached Iphicles.
He pulled Iphicles tight against him and whispered savagely into his ear. "You will do as I say. Or suffer the consequences. Remember what you owe me."
Iphicles nodded stiffly, still not trusting himself to speak. Ares eyed him for a few moments, waiting for any further arguments. Iphicles stared back at him, furious at being treated as less than a man. He maintained his silence.
Faced with unspoken defiance, Ares reacted with the tactics that had served him well many times before. Pushing Iphicles backwards on the bed, Ares disposed of their clothing with a thought. Iphicles struggled upwards only to find himself placed firmly face down across Ares’ knees as he sat on the edge of the bed. He fought in vain to right himself.
"Ouch !" Ares’ hand landing on his bare ass stung both his pride and tender skin. He doubled his efforts to escape his punishment but the war god had him in a firm grip and was slapping his ass cheeks hard, working off some of his frustration. After a few more blows, the pain transmuted into pleasure as well. Iphicles groaned as his cock took an interest in the proceedings, hardening and rubbing against Ares’ thigh with each strike. He endured the sensation as long as he could, biting his lip to keep from crying out.
Just as he reached the limit of his endurance, Ares twisted beneath him. Sliding Iphicles off his knees and onto his own feet, he took up position behind him. Grabbing his lover by the hips he pushed into his ass in one swift movement. Ares pushed hard and pushed deep, grunting with each stroke. Iphicles was incoherent with desire, whimpering softly, arching backwards to meet Ares’ thrust. He had experienced violent sex before but had only tolerated it. The intense stimulation of the combined pain/pleasure was new to him.
His legs trembling, Iphicles begged for release. "Please Ares, I need you touch me."
Ares snorted. "You want me to stop what I’m doing?"
"No ! No, please don’t stop, " Iphicles paused, caught up in the sensations of Ares’ large cock pounding his ass. He formed the words slowly, "I want you to stroke my cock. Please, Ares"
Ares didn’t speak for a moment. "You’re making me do all the work, Iphicles. Give me your hand." With Ares standing behind him, Iphicles could not see the devilish grin on Ares’ face, nor his pleasure at Iphicles’ responsiveness. He held out his hand quickly. Ares placed his own over the top and moved both their hands to Iphicles’ straining cock. He stroked it roughly in time with his thrusts.
Unable to stand the stimulation of Iphicles’ hot, tight ass and his moans any longer, Ares came. With his last harsh strokes, he increased the hand stimulation on Iphicles’ cock, wrenching a guttural scream from him as he spurted his semen over both their hands. They remained standing, panting for several minutes. Ares tightened his arms around his lover, unwilling to release his control.
"Obey me, Iphicles," he murmured softly. "Never forget who is your master."
The conflict with the Argosians was going well. Used to the former King’s conservative approach, the new tactics were catching everyone by surprise. Their raiding parties had been unable to strike a path into Corinth’s lands without encountering Corinthian warriors spoiling for a fight. The one pitched battle which occurred resulted in a soundly defeated incursion force. The King’s popularity had never been better, with the nobles and commoners united in his support. Other city-states’ ambassadors presented respectful and carefully worded congratulations to Corinth, while Argos’ neighbours Epidaurus contemplated their own vengeance.
In short, the whole campaign was a success. Except to one man. Hercules.
Ares knew that Hercules would be bound to visit his brother sooner or later. He had counted on later but Corinth’s success was the talk of Greece. His moralising half-brother would be unable to see the necessity of the fighting and would subject Iphicles to a long diatribe on the evils of war.
Ares smirked to himself. It had been good while it lasted. It was a pity it had only taken Hercules a month to find the time to visit his brother. Iphicles was turning out to have quite a flair for this game. And as for the part where Hercules found out that it wasn’t his brother on the throne anymore - Ares wouldn’t miss that for anything.
Forewarned of Hercules’ imminent arrival by Ares, Iphicles received him in a private room. He listened patiently to his lecture, nodded in all the right places and carefully avoided making any promises. Iphicles began to see why King Iphicles had jumped at the chance to make a new start. Hercules had a way of making even a success sound like an atrocity, moralising and rambling on about the horrors of war. Personally Iphicles wanted to tell Hercules to stick his opinions where the sun didn’t shine, but he knew that it was not something his predecessor would do.
Unfortunately, Iphicles’ lack of response was in itself uncharacteristic. Hercules was used to his brother defending his actions and arguing with him: this polite silence just wasn’t right. Eventually he ran out of things to say, and moved onto more personal subjects. In his none too subtle way, it became obvious that Hercules’ suspicions had been aroused.
"And of course Iolaus’ sister sends her regards."
Iphicles looked straight at Hercules. "He doesn’t have a sister."
Hercules coughed. "Well, er no, that is, er…..I mean Jason’s sister."
Iphicles looked at Hercules oddly. "He doesn’t have a sister either……"
Hercules was floundering now. Not sure enough of his ground to make any accusations, yet convinced that something was wrong. He gave up trying to trap Iphicles and stood there, looking confused.
Ares appeared in a characteristic flash of light, laughing so hard he was almost bent double. He took in the look on Hercules’ face with obvious enjoyment, attempted to say something then started laughing again.
"Ares! I should have known!" Hercules was on familiar ground finally - blaming Ares for his problems. "What have you done with Iphicles?"
Ares looked at Hercules with a look that implied he thought Hercules had been out in the sun too long. He pointed "That’s Iphicles….isn’t it, little brother?"
"NO! Well, yes but no…" Hercules was lost again. He resorted to threats. "I’ll take this up with Zeus if I have to, Ares."
Ares sighed heavily, and looked at Iphicles. "No need. You want Iphicles, you get Iphicles". Hercules stared at him, surprised by his easy capitulation. Nobody was behaving as they ought to today, leaving him with the feeling that the earth was moving under his feet.
The war god gestured, opening a swirling blue vortex through which King Iphicles appeared. He strode out briskly, coming to a stop beside his counterpart. Their similar clothing made them appear almost mirror images. Smoothly Ares added, "Sorry for the interruption, King Iphicles, but you know how impatient Hercules gets."
He sauntered towards toward a convenient seat and sprawled on it. He gestured for Iphicles to sit next to him while Hercules and the King spoke. Hercules looked at him doubtfully and withdrew to the opposite side of the room to whisper in King Iphicles’ ear. He lost no time in informing him of the events of the previous months and added his own opinions of the ulterior motives of Ares and the man who looked exactly like his half-brother.
Ares appeared bored by the whole thing, assuming an expression of godly tolerance designed to disturb Hercules’ self-composure. He played the injured party so well that the King, glancing at him from the other side of the room was moved to protest Hercules’ blackening of his character and casting aspersions on his role in the matter. He launched into a long explanation of his own whereabouts and his achievements in the parallel world. The whispered conversation got louder and louder until the brothers were practically shouting.
"The land over there is in turmoil - no government, no law, utter chaos," argued the King heatedly. "Ares has asked me to -"
"And you trusted him ?!"
"I have no reason not to! He’s shown me what -"
Hercules shook his head in frustration, interrupting his brother once again. "I don’t understand you, Iphicles. You should be-- "
"Sitting here on my backside while people suffer?"
"No, you know that’s not what I mean, " retorted Hercules, starting to lose his temper. "You belong here, Iphicles."
"But _I_ don’t want to come back," insisted the real King, shocking Hercules badly. He stared at his half brother in amazement. "I’m needed there."
"What about your kingdom ?" asked Hercules, hardly able to believe his ears. He wished Iolaus had come along for this trip - he and Iphicles seemed to communicate much better than Hercules ever could with his older brother.
The King shrugged. "If you care so much about it…..you rule it." Hercules gaped at him. "You and I both know I was never Jason’s first choice as his successor. I also know that rebellion there needs me - I can achieve more for the people of that land than I ever could back here. Corinth doesn’t need me. You don’t need me. That world does."
He looked over at his double, sitting quietly by Ares’ side. "My counterpart there seems a decent enough man, even if he’s not exactly me. And from what you’ve said, Corinth isn’t suffering under his rule. Far from it. Just because he’s made some decisions you don’t agree with, doesn’t make him a bad king."
He paused. "I think he’s made the right decisions." From his seat next to Ares, Iphicles felt a warm glow of appreciation. He’d walked a tightrope between satisfying Ares and considering what was best for his new kingdom. It felt good to have that acknowledged.
The King looked seriously at his younger brother. "Either let him do the job or do it yourself, Hercules." Ares, sitting across the room studied the King - somewhere he had found the strength of character to stand up for what he believed in. Perhaps this had been just what he needed.
Hercules made one last plea. "You’ll be leaving your family and friends behind. There’s no crossing back into this reality again - no way to contact anyone here ."
The King shook his head. "Family ? A visit from you every couple of years or so. Friends ? A king has no real friends, only duty. Rena is dead. You won’t sway me this time, Hercules. I have to do this."
Ares interrupted before Hercules could overcome his amazement at his brother’s passionate show of spirit and start a serious guilt trip. "Do you hate this Iphicles so much that you’d condemn him to return to his former life? Nothing more than a slave. This way, each man can stay where he wishes, make his own life."
He laughed and added persuasively "Free will - it’s what you’re always advocating, isn’t it brother?"
Caught with his own words, Hercules could only shrug helplessly.
"What if he does organise the rebellion over there ?" asked Iphicles curiously. "Put an end to the fighting, bring order to the chaos." He lounged back on royal bed besides Ares, relaxed.
Ares shrugged. "Fighting is easier than diplomacy any day. And more satisfying. Freed of Hercules’ stultifying influence, I’m sure King Iphicles will find that out for himself." He laughed. "Anyway, it’s not my problem. Not my world. If their God of War can’t handle him, I’ll offer him tips on the hands-on approach."
He leaned over and suited his actions to his words, running his hand lazily across Iphicles’ bare chest and down his flat stomach. He leered at Iphicles. "Actions are always more meaningful than words."
Iphicles nodded. "I’ve been debating what my next course of action should be."
Ares sat up and looked at Iphicles suspiciously, not sure what he was getting at. "Debating ? You do what I tell you to do, Iphicles - and don’t forget that."
Iphicles smiled innocently. "But I’m the King here, Ares. You need me on display."
He paused, giving Ares a chance to consider his words. "What happens if you dispose of me? Hercules will have Zeus on your back faster than you can imagine, worrying about whether his brother is still alive. And if you just remove me from the throne and send me back - Hercules will think you’ve killed me and are hiding the evidence."
He gave Ares a chance to take that in, then hit him with the last option. "Or you could bring his brother back and do what you wish with me. Of course, the King will be pissed at you, Hercules will think he’s won and you won’t be able to savour the fond memories of the time you tied him up in knots with his own hypocrisy."
He smiled warmly at the god. "But…"
Ares scowled blackly at him, refusing to take the bait.
"But if you negotiate with me, instead of ordering me - that’s a different matter entirely." Iphicles ran a hand lightly across Ares’ face. If Ares hadn’t been a god, Iphicles would have said he was sulking. "You can do it, Ares…..convince me that your way is best."
He looked at the god’s sullen, beautiful face. He whispered, "Persuade me, Ares. Don’t order me like a servant: persuade me. You like a challenge, don’t you? Need it, even. Convince me that I need to expand Corinth’s lands."
"How ?" growled the god. "What more do you want?"
"Ares." Iphicles spoke forcefully, claiming the god’s full attention. "I want you, Ares. Nothing else. No one else." Iphicles stared hard into the god’s eyes, his desire clear. "Always you." Ares relaxed slightly as Iphicles’ hand pushed him back down onto the bed and traced a pattern on his chest.
Ares considered. Iphicles had him cornered. He could either forfeit - or he could play according to the new rules. And the rules could always be changed later.
"You drive a hard bargain," he conceded finally. "Consider this argument then." He shifted his position against Iphicles, taking the new King’s cock into his mouth, sucking it expertly into his hot mouth.
Iphicles stifled a groan and moved himself so that he could return the favour, savouring the hardness of Ares’ cock for a few moments. He lifted the head to watch the god’s dark head at work, licking, biting, sucking. This could turn out to be a very long negotiation.