He couldnít move.

His arms, legs trapped. No escape. Despair. Torment.

Thrashing madly in the grip of a nightmare, Iphicles woke Ares from a sound sleep. Instantly alert, the god shook his lover, trying to break the grip of the nightmare. This wasnít the first time. Theyíd been getting worse, more frequent as the weeks went by.

"Iphicles," he shouted. "Wake up!"

With a start, Iphicles obeyed. Still quivering, he freed himself from the linen sheet wrapped about him, his eyes gazing blankly ahead, his tousled red gold hair framing his distracted face. Ares knew better than to touch him in this state, knew that if he did he would find every muscle taut. Iph would struggle mindlessly against anything but verbal reassurances until he recovered his self composure.

He sighed, his warm hazel eyes fixed on Iphiclesí frozen face. "When are you going to tell me whatís wrong?" No response.

"I canít help you if you donít trust me, Iphicles." His voice gentle as if Iphicles was a fractious colt, Ares gave the only reassurance he could. "I wonít judge you, or hurt you. I want to help you."

"Iím sorry I woke you." Iphicles was avoiding the crux of the matter as usual.

"Donít be sorry." The god tentatively extended a hand to touch Iphís face, to smooth the strands of hair from his brow, ready to withdraw at a secondís notice. He was an extremely tactile person and these fits where Iphicles couldnít bear his touch hurt worse than a knife twisted in his gut. "I know you canít tell me what the problem is now. Will you tell me in the morning?"

Iphicles scowled. He had refused to discuss the source of his nightmares for weeks now and Ares felt the distance growing between them. Perhaps a small show of insecurity wouldnít hurt here.

"You donít trust me, do you ?" He looked hurt, thrusting out his bottom lip in a childish gesture. Carefully now, Iph wasnít a fool. No threat of leaving, he didnít want to have to follow through on that. Just a little emotional blackmail, a little insecurity. Something Iphicles would relate to.

"I do trust you, Ares."

The god gave himself a mental pat on the back. Got him.

"IÖI canít talk about it, please."

He was weakening, Ares could sense it. Just a little push. "I want to know, Iphicles. I canít bear to see you hurting like this." He reached across the bed and drew Iphicles into his embrace spoon fashion, his back fitting perfectly against Aresí broad chest, thigh against thigh. Ignoring the tenseness of his body, he stroked him soothingly, long, languorous strokes designed to calm. "Tell me," he coaxed.

He knew the god wasnít going to let it pass. Sighing deeply he beganÖÖ.

"Iíve always loved my brother. I was jealous of him, of what he had, of who he was, but I still loved him. When we were young we werenít that close. Everything came to him so easily. I wanted to get away from his shadow. When I came home to visit, I felt like a visitor, an intruder, not like I belonged. Hercules and Mother lived in an idyllic world that had no place for me.

"On this particular visit I felt more of an outsider than ever and had vowed to leave the next day. Herc and I stayed up late that night, drinking wine long after Mother had gone to bed, talking about anything and everything. I didnít realise just how much Iíd had to drink until I tried to get up. Everything swayed and I was staggering around giggling madly, trying not to fall over furniture. Herc wasnít any better, but he didnít seem as uncoordinated as I did so he helped me to the room weíd shared as boys, holding onto each other to avoid falling over as we disrobed.

"I fell onto the nearest bed, his, and he toppled onto me, out like a light. You donít realise just how heavy all those muscles are until youíve actually been pinned underneath him, desperate to breath. Moving him to the other bed was impossible - moving myself seemed almost as hard. Still, I rolled him onto his side and fell asleep where I was. When I woke.."

Iphicles paused and Ares said nothing, still stroking his loverís tense frame. The nightmare was too vivid for this to be a simple fear of being crushed by another person. There had to be more.

"When I woke, Herc was nestled up against my back, an arm casually slung over my hips. His eyes were still closed but his hand was gently stroking me, stroking my thigh, my hip, myÖ.cock." Iphicles swallowed hard. Talking about this was one of the hardest things heíd ever done.

"I liked it." There was defiance in his tone.

"Go on," murmured Ares, entranced. "Finish it."

"His hand stroked me and gripped me firmly. I guess I probably started thrusting into his hand - itíd been awhile for me. Next thing I knew, I could feel his cockhead against my ass, dripping and his fingers were pushing into me, readying me. He withdrew them and pushed his cock inside me, still stroking me, gripping my cock firmly in his large hand. It hurt. I must have made some noise, some sort of protest. Then the next thing I knew, I was face down on the bed, my cock trapped awkwardly under me while Herc fucked my ass."

There was an uncomfortable pause. Ares could feel his own cock hardening in response to the story and willed it to behave.

"He held me down like that and fucked me. Hard. I could hear him grunting next to my ear, enjoying it. He didnít give a shit about how I felt about whether I wanted it or not - he just used me." The misery in Iphiclesí voice was heartbreaking.

"But I Ö..I liked it. After that first pain, it started feeling good, then it felt incredible. My half-brother was fucking me like I was a cheap whore and I was enjoying."

Ares struggled to hide how turned on he was by this confession, easing his rock hard erection away from Iphiclesí hips. He knew that mortals didnít view their family relationships the same as the gods and he could guess what was coming.

"I came, he came. He pinned me down while he recovered his breath, just like the night before. Only this time I was lying in a pool of my own cum, wanting to return the favour." Iphicles snorted. "What a fool I was."

"How did he take it?"

"Take it?" Iphicles laughed shrilly. There was a hysterical edge to it that worried Ares. "How do you think he took it? He was all apologies, telling me he hadnít realised who I was when he woke up. He thought I was his *friend*."

"And then I made my biggest mistake. I told him not to be sorry, that I enjoyed it. The look of horror on his face will stay with me to the end of my days. I wanted him so bad and he backed away from me like I was a leper, shaking his head in denial. Heíd practically raped me and then blamed me for enjoying it." He hesitated, a break in his voice. "He didnít want *me*."

"I left at daybreak. It was years before I could face him again. Every time Iím scared that Iíll see that look again - the one that tell me just how deluded I was to think he could actually care for me in that way."

"And thatís what the nightmare is? Him hold you down?" asked Ares. He had levered himself up onto one arm so he could watch Iphiclesí profile. The look of betrayal on his face would stay with the god a long, long time.

"Holding me down until I tell him that I love it, then his disgust." Iphicles was shivering now. Ares moved to warm him with the heat of his body, wrapping both arms around Iphiclesí shaking body, his hard cock trapped between them.

"Has he ever mentioned it again?"

Iphicles shook his head emphatically. "No. And he never will. But I know what he thinks of me."

"What he thinks of you, Iph?" Ares gripped Iphicles tightly in his arms, suddenly furious. "Do you want to know what I think of him?" Iphicles made a low sound of protest but said nothing.

"I think he used you. Used you and then put all the guilt onto your shoulders just because you didnít want to sweep it under the carpet. He must have been scared witless."

Ares focused on the man shivering in his arms. "You donít deserve that kind of treatment, Iph. Nobody does. Thereís nothing wrong with you."

Perhaps it wouldnít hurt to change the subject now that Iphicles had his problem out in the open. He certainly didnít appear able to talk about it dispassionately, trembling as he was. Ares was enraged by Herculesí treatment of his brother, but he knew his feelings for Iph and his hatred of his half-brother were most likely distorting his impartiality. Iphicles didnít need to hear what Ares would like to do to Hercules given half a chance - he needed reassurance.

"I love you, Iphicles." The godís tone was firm, allowing no dispute. "Your brother is a fool." Ares lowered his voice to a seductive whisper. "Let me show you why."

Iphicles turned within the circle of Aresí arms. "Show me, Ares."

Ares didnít wait for a second invitation. Now the healing could begin.

Who was your friend inside?
  Passing time
What was your dream inside?
  The end of time
Itís a tomb you lie in, you know you cannot leave
So you learn to look inside to find the love you need
From your loneliness, sometimes reprieve

"I Did Time"    Luka Bloom