They were his followers. They weren’t farmers, or potters, or innkeepers. They had been proud warriors, living and dying by the sword before their leader accepted land and back breaking toil as their reward for faithful service. Their disgrace was his disgrace. Their debasement an insult to him. Someone would pay for this. No matter which side they fought for, no matter if the battle was won or lost. They once were warriors.
The first time he saw him was silhouetted against the flickering torchlight in the temple, almost invisible, his dark clothing fading into the sable depths. An unfamiliar face, quickly forgotten. A few weeks later, he felt the presence of someone stalking him in the lonely corridors of his own palace. Turning swiftly he glimpsed a tall, broad- shouldered man, well-muscled and arrogant, staring challengingly at him then walking quickly away and disappearing from sight. He ordered the captain of the guard to search but no intruders had been found. He passed it off as an overly active imagination to his clearly concerned captain.
Alone in his work room in the depths of night, he felt unseen eyes studying him. He knew there was no one else in the room - there was simply nowhere to hide. Abandoning scrolls and maps on the table, he strode through the almost empty corridors, nodding to the young sentry outside his room. Closing the door behind him, he sighed heavily and sat on the edge of the bed to remove his boots. He stared into space, unnerved by the incident.
Once undressed and under the covers, he drifted off to sleep. His dreams were troubled by a faceless man, teasing and tormenting him into a frenzy of lust. He awoke the next morning unrefreshed, with a raging hard-on and twisted desire for the stranger who haunted his dreams.
"What’ya been up to, Unc? What’s happening?"
Normally Ares would have backhanded the little weasel for impudence, but he was still feeling charitable towards the newly reborn god, remembering cradling his thin, lifeless body after the incident with Callisto. Strife had been unusually reserved for him since his return from the Underworld. Zeus had eventually given in to Hades’ pleas and resurrected the god. He’d caused all together too much upheaval in both Tartarus and the Elysian Fields, his very presence disturbing the centuries old routine. For himself, Ares had avoided the subject with Zeus - the old bastard was more likely to spite him than to please him. Ares smiled slightly at the younger god and beckoned him closer.
Emboldened, Strife edged closer to the quicksilver pool which held his uncle’s attention. He didn’t recognise the place, but he certainly recognised the person. He studied the man’s features and wondered just when Ares had taken to voyeurism. Watching the King of Corinth beat off had a certain fascination but it just wasn’t the God of War’s style. What he wanted, he took.
"Beautiful, isn’t he Strife?" Ares’ tone was deceptively mild. "And oh so _useful_." He took a deep breath, and shifted his gaze from the pool to Strife. Cupped his nephew’s cheek in his hand.
"Get naked," he whispered. "Now."
Strife gaped. Things had changed. Still, he knew better than to disobey a direct command from Ares, and made his clothing disappear with a quick thought. He stood there uncertainly, still staring at Ares as the older god did the same, then reached out to draw him into a passionate kiss. He felt himself drowning as the war god embraced and caressed his pale flesh, brushing his fingers across the scar which was the permanent reminder of his brush with death. Felt flames in his groin as Ares massaged his cock lightly, his callused fingers sending uncontrollable shivers through his entire body.
"Ares," he moaned. "Fuck me."
"Oh, I intend to." Ares laughed, a deep sensuous sound.
Strife giggled nervously, his nimble fingers toying with the nipples hidden by the abundant hair on Ares’ chest, teeth nipping at the smoothly muscled shoulder. He intended to make to most of this opportunity - he’d coveted his uncle’s ass for years, watched him lavish his attention on seemingly everyone but himself. Now Ares needed him. Even if he strongly suspected he was being used as a substitute, Strife fully intended enjoying Ares’ famous skill and perhaps even make it a memorable occasion for the other god.
Even as Ares forced his cock slowly up his ass, Strife begged for more. The two gods writhed on the floor, the lean pale form squirming with desire, contrasted against Ares’ massive golden skinned form pounding into him, rough, hard, brutal. They fucked for hours, tirelessly, pausing only to change position, against a wall, face to face, on their hands and knees.
Soaked with sweat, bruises and cum, his skin decorated with bite marks and scratches, Strife heaved a contented sigh. Some things were almost worth dying for.
"So, can I watch when you’re gonna play with Iphicles, Unc?"
"You wouldn’t be expecting favours now, would you Strife? " There was a note of warning in God of War’s voice, threatening yet seductive.
"Not me." Strife did his best wide eyed and innocent act, knowing it wouldn’t fool Ares. "Never!"
Ares grunted, He linked his hands and stretched his arms above his head, displaying the full glory of his chest and shoulders. It made him look oddly vulnerable. "I might let you join me once or twice - if you prove you can obey me and not fuck up." He looked sideways at the pale god curled beside him. "Maybe."
Strife raised himself onto one elbow and stared down at Ares. "Your wish is my command." He lowered his head to Ares’ semi-hard cock and engulfed it slowly, tongue working busily.
Ares laid back contentedly, absentmindedly stroking the dark head engrossed at his groin, his mind filled with schemes.
It had been weeks since Iphicles had slept a full night. He alternated between insomnia and deep unrefreshing sleep. Tormented by dreams of a dark stranger, his days seemed surreal and the dreams the reality. He grew to hate the sounds of the guard changes, the liquid bird song that greeted each dawn. He rejected his former lover in an ugly scene, forgetting the happiness of the past.
He was mindful enough of his duty to listen when he must but every decision was an effort. He ruled his kingdom in a half a daze, ignoring well meaning advice designed to snap him out of his fugue state. Public audiences were spent searching the faces in the crowd, looking for the face that haunted him. He searched for features that he was beginning to doubt existed outside his own tortured dreams.
He was there. A veritable gift from the gods. Half seen behind a group of chattering, brightly dressed merchants, arms folded disdainfully, he surveyed the room from a secluded alcove, more real than the people crowded around him. Suddenly indecisive, Iphicles did nothing, finishing the kingdom’s business automatically. The audience chamber cleared gradually as the day’s business concluded, even the most garrulous of his councillors sensing his distraction, leaving the king alone but for his guard.
Iphicles stood slowly, dismissing the guard with a wave, his eyes fixed on the figure in the alcove. He removed the crown, tossing it onto the chair behind him, and ran his hand distractedly through his chestnut hair. Licked his bottom lip nervously.
"Who are you?"
The man said nothing, but devoured Iphicles with his eyes. Dressed in black figure-hugging leather traced with ornate silver designs, arms crossed across a broad chest, he radiated strength and danger. Iphicles wanted him so badly his teeth ached with it. Silence.
"You’re in my dreams," whispered the king. Leather creaked as the man sauntered forward, closer to Iphicles.
"Your dreams? What happens in your dreams?"
"You dominate me." Even as he spoke, Iphicles knew it was the truth. He would do anything to please this man. Anything to be allowed to touch him.
"Dominate you….is that what you want?" He sounded amused, bored even.
Iphicles winced, realising how gauche he seemed by comparison. "Don’t play with me!" he entreated. "You must know what I want."
The man stepped closer, wound his fingers into the king’s shoulder length hair and dragged his face close. "I know what you want." He kissed him softly, folded him into his arms and felt the king’s body mold against his own. Thigh to thigh, chest to chest. "And I’ll give it to you." Another kiss, stronger, more forceful. "But you have to do whatever I tell you to do." He felt Iphicles’ body go rigid. disliking the implications. "This isn’t about Corinth, little king. It’s about you."
He kissed the king again, sucking the very breath from his lungs, leaving him dizzy. "I am Ares, God of War. Mortal kingdoms mean nothing to me. I live to fight." He wrenched Iphicles’ head backwards and licked the soft skin of his throat, growling softly. "And to fuck."
A blazing blue white light. The chamber was empty.
The crown remained, glittering in a shaft of sunlight..
Wisps of steam, bubbling pools of water. A golden cavern formed from roughly hewn rock, lit by thousands of glowing white candles. Rivulets cascaded from the walls noisily. He looked for Ares, found him already naked and immersed in chest-high water, watching. He peeled off his clothes, entered the pool slowly, enjoying the heat of the water. The god smiled lazily at him.
The king glanced around, looking for a wash cloth or sponge. Ares’ hand grabbed him by the throat roughly, displeased by the slow response. His thumb covered Iphicles’ pulse, the pressure making him lightheaded. His cock jerked. The reaction surprised the king. He’d never been turned on by fear before.
"Do it with your hands."
He released the king and turned his back. The combined degradation of being treated as a bath slave and the arousal covered Iphicles’ skin with goosebumps. He obeyed blindly, clumsily at first, then more sensuously, using fingers, palms, even the heel of his hands to stroke the god. Cupping water in his hand, he trickled it over the bronzed skin, mesmerised by the path the water took across the god’s flesh. He licked the droplets from the smooth skin before they could rejoin the pool, jealous of their closeness to his god.
Ares received his attentions passively, yet Iphicles had no doubt that he was in control. He dared to dip his hand lower, beneath the water to touch the god’s groin. His fingers had touched the black curls surrounding Ares’ cock, when the god seized his arm, twisting around to restrain him against the side of the pool.. He bound the king’s wrists behind his torso with a strip of cloth that appeared from nowhere and turned him back to face him.
"You’re not good at obedience, are you Iphicles?"
His captive stared back at him defiantly. Ares knew how to break a man’s spirit, but for now he’d be satisfied with molding this defiance into squirming acquiescence. He noticed him testing the restraints. Time to take his mind off resistance and channel that energy into more….useful pursuits.
He leaned forward and captured the still struggling king’s lips in a kiss, tracing the lips with his tongue, probing for a response.
Iphicles’ body was still fighting but his mouth opened to Ares. Tentatively he pushed his tongue into Ares’ warm mouth past the lush inviting lips. Felt the god accept it, suck it deeper. He pushed his head closer, forgetting his bound hands for the moment. The god leaned harder against him, resting his weight and not incidentally trapping him against the side of the steamy pool. Iphicles fought for his freedom, twisting under the god yet continuing to explore Ares’ soft mouth and accept the return thrusts of his tongue.
He ended the kiss. "Free me. I’ll do whatever you want."
The god laughed. "Not a chance. I like you this way. Wet…..eager….helpless."
He curled his hand possessively around the back of Iphicles’ neck, down his shoulder. He rubbed his hands firmly across the king’s well developed pectorals, fingernails seeking out the nipples and tweaking them roughly, drawing a groan from him. He leaned backwards and his hands stole even lower, tantalising the flat stomach, roamed around to cup the tensed buttocks, appreciating the play of muscle under his hands. Iphicles’ breathing was ragged as the god’s touch lit fires of desire. Ares’ proud cock dug into Iphicles’ thigh, turned on by the captive king’s response.
"Will I fuck you now?" He assessed Iphicles’ condition with an experienced eye. The king was nearly ready to plead for it, but that would make him think he had a say in what happened to him. No, best to fuck without making him beg, no matter how much Ares enjoyed having the power to do so. Let him deceive himself into thinking the god merciful.
"I think you want me to fuck you. You want me inside you, Iphicles." The god’s voice was low, hypnotic. He jerked the king’s legs out from under him, leaving him to recover his balance as best he could with his arms still bound tightly. "Wrap your legs around me."
The king did as he asked. He remained silent, his eyes fixed on Ares, rapt. He felt the god adjust his position, felt the head of Ares’ cock pushing against the tight ring of muscle. With a grunt, he pushed inside Iphicles. The water that surrounded them was no lubricant. It was dry, it hurt slightly but damn it felt good. His cock was rigid, engorged.
The god’s face was twisted with pleasure as he slowly slid in and out of the king’s ass, holding him firmly by the hips. Rocking harder and harder, he rhythmically pounded his cock up and down as Iphicles tight passage clenched around him. He found the prostate and angled each thrust for maximum impact. The king thrashed against him, encouraging him with demanding wordless sounds. He came hard, flooding the king’s ass with his hot semen, leaving his partner on the brink of orgasm without any stimulation to push him over the line. He pulled out, breathing hard. The king was left whimpering incoherently, unable to articulate his need.
Ares hoisted him clear of the water, dumping him on the cold onyx rock at the side of the pool. Never removing his gaze from Iphicles’ distraught face, he engulfed his still wet cock in the warmth of his mouth. Iphicles watched as it disappeared between the full lips framed by the black beard, stimulated by the sight. He thrust his hips up wildly to meet the descending mouth. A few strokes were all that was necessary to send the king’s semen flooding into Ares’ warm mouth. He swallowed, licking his lips to catch the last traces and fitted his body along the side of the king’s, lending him his body heat. They dozed entwined.
He woke in his own bed, disconcerted by the presence of the god. It seemed more like a vivid dream than reality.
"Ares?" He’d just been fucked raw yet he wanted more. "I.." He paused, unsure. "I don’t know what you want from me."
The god was ready for the question. He knew exactly what he wanted.
"Obey me. That’s all you have to do, Iphicles. Obey me and I’ll show more pleasure than you ever imagined."
Ares shifted closer, his lips only fractionally away from the king’s. He kissed him ferociously, pulled back to study the king’s desire-filled face, the bright, eager eyes, sinfully long eyelashes, the lips still swollen and pouty from his savage kisses earlier.
"You _can_ back out of the deal any time you want to," remarked the god casually. "But once you say no you won’t see me again. I don’t deal well with rejection." He grinned ferally, and pinned Iphicles beneath him. "Agreed?"
Iphicles fought briefly against his hold, instinctively but only succeeded in inflaming Ares. They thrashed together, each seeking the other’s weakness. Skin to skin. Hard throbbing cock against satin smooth flesh. The god snarled. "Agreed??"
"Yes, my lord Ares," he whispered, still struggling.
It was only the beginning. He never knew when or where the god would appear. He threw more energy than ever before into the kingdom’s affairs, spending hours in meetings, discussions, negotiations. Drove his chamberlain to distraction with ideas for improvements to the palace. Trained with his guard, conscious that he had lost some of his edge since becoming a ruler. Keeping busy helped to keep his mind off the god. He lived on nervous energy and adrenaline, constantly waiting for a sign. The sex was always incredible, always different, spoiling him for the mundane mortal encounters. There was an undercurrent of raw violence that underlaid everything the god did or said. Yet sometimes Ares surprised him with what seemed almost like tenderness. Life was good.
It was too good to last.
Hercules and Iolaus were passing through Corinth on their way south. They spent the evening in the palace sharing stories and seeing who could tell the tallest tales, sitting companionably in front of a crackling fire. Herc was almost bearable after a few tankards of wine had mellowed him a little. Iphicles smiled, more relaxed than he’d been in ages. It could be hard to live in the shadow of a demi-god, but he always enjoyed his brother’s company when he brought Iolaus. Nobody could be upset or unhappy for long around him.
He lifted the wine jug, realised it was empty. He moved to the antechamber to refill it, loathe to call a servant and disturb the family atmosphere. The semi-darkness was shattered by Ares, blue light coruscating around the figure of the god. Iphicles hadn’t seen Ares in days, yet now with his half-brother in the next room, the god had obviously decided he had to have sex in the next ten seconds or die.
"Come with me," he demanded.
"But…." Iphicles glanced behind to the room he’d just left. Saying no was not an option if he ever wanted to see the god again. There was only once choice to make.
"Iphicles?" Shit. He really didn’t want to explain this to Herc.
The god wrapped his hand around the back of the king’s neck, his fingers bruising the skin, a painful reminder of his strength.
"You promised me, Iphicles. Obedience. You’re mine. Aren’t you?"
He nodded his agreement, quickly following the god through the passageways to his bedroom, informing the guards that he was not to be disturbed. He hoped that his brother and Iolaus would stay where they were for awhile.
Ares’ eyes danced at this proof of his power, his lips curved in a small triumphant smile. He knew Hercules had heard his voice. There was no way he’d leave Iphicles alone until he got some explanation. Any minute now.
"Kneel down before me, Iphicles." he said softly. His eyes were fixed avidly on the king, his lips parted in anticipation. He ignored the furious pounding on the door and sounds of a scuffle. "Suck my cock."
The king made a wordless noise, combined desire and self-hatred. Ares gave him a warning glance, reminding him of the penalty for disobedience. He saw the humiliation in the amber eyes as the king wished for the earth to swallow him whole before his brother saw him thus, but he obeyed the god, taking the swollen organ between his lush lips, drawing it deeper into his mouth. He kept his eyes fixed on the bright blues and green of the floor covering beneath him. Despite the inevitability of coming confrontation, the mere presence of Ares was enough to make his own cock hard. He despised his lack of self control.
Hercules burst into the room, glancing at Iphicles on his knees before Ares. The stunned guards on the floor outside the room testified to his eagerness to speak to his half-brother.
"Get up Iphicles, you don’t have to kneel before him. No matter what he says." Hercules’ voice rang out strongly. He stared defiantly at Ares. The god smiled back at him, not at all perturbed by this sudden audience.
"You know, you’re right!" he exclaimed. He favoured the demi-god with a especially brilliant smile, all affability, then lowered his gaze, addressing his next comment to the man kneeling before him. "But it will make it more difficult for you to suck my cock."
Hercules looked at Ares as if he’d gone mad. The god motioned him closer, anticipation sparkling in his eyes. Herc edged forward warily, close enough to see that the king was not merely on his knees before the god but was also swallowing the length of Ares’ straining erection.
"You bastard! If you hurt him, I’ll see you rot in Tartarus for this. You disgust me." His voice was thick with emotion, his hands balled into fists.
"Disgust? Are you sure, Hercules? Sure you’re not just a little envious?" Ares’ voice was a low, velvety whisper. "I’ve seen the way you look at him after you’ve had enough wine to loosen your inhibitions. It’s only Blondie’s presence that stops you."
He paused dramatically before delivering the next blow. "Are you jealous of him or me, I wonder. Either way, it’s incest for you. Don’t even dare to think about it."
"Don’t try to imagine the feeling of his tongue caressing you, pleasuring you." He stroked Iphicles’ bright hair away, allowing Hercules a glimpse of the king’s mouth working up and down the length of the god’s rigid organ. He spoke again, harsher this time.
"Don’t picture yourself bracing me against a wall, fucking my ass while I beg you to do me harder and harder…"
Ares fixed his dark brown eyes on his opponent, and thrust into Iphicles’ mouth savagely, his loss of control betraying just how aroused he was by his own words. The king gagged briefly, then recovered his rhythm.
The coarse, yet evocative words combined with the invitation in Ares’ eyes to paralyse Hercules. He was harder than he’d been in years, yet his mind screamed that he couldn‘t trust the god even for a moment. He wavered for several minutes, watching, until morality and common sense won the battle against lust. He turned and ran blindly, desperate to not to see, not to hear. The god’s mocking laughter floated down the corridor after him, taunting him.
"You did that deliberately."
Ares looked down. Not bothering to reply, he forced his cock back into Iphicles’ mouth, needing only a few more strokes to cum hard. His eyes sparked with anger, elation, perhaps even a hint of compassion before he too disappeared.
Iphicles was left kneeling on the floor. Alone. He stayed there for a long, long time.
Weeks passed before the god deigned to honour him with his presence again, long weeks in which Iphicles agonised about whether he had made the right choice. He knew Hercules would forgive and forget in time, regardless of whether he wanted or deserved forgiveness. Being able to forgive himself was another matter completely. He knew Ares hated his brother with a passion and he had allowed himself to be used to wound his brother deeply. He dare not even consider the possibility that Ares had not merely intended to hurt Hercules. But all recriminations were forgotten the instant he heard the now familiar silken tones of the war god. He rose to greet him, eager to touch and be touched when he realised the god was not alone.
The pale skinned figure by his side was slight, dressed in strange dark clothes. Ares smiled at the king malevolently. "I’ve a whim to watch you today." He gestured to his companion. "Say hello to your new playmate Strife."
Iphicles froze. The young god walked toward him, grinning manically. "Bitchin’, Unc. He’s even better close up."
"Please don’t do this to me." The words were quiet, the voice almost emotionless. Iphicles’ misery showed clearly in his face. His body tense, he fixed his eyes on Ares, mutely begging him to reconsider, to take back the hateful command.
"You promised me, little king. You promised to do what I wanted." He hesitated long enough to give Iphicles hope, then crushed it cruelly. "This is what I want. You _will_ do it."
Iphicles stared at him blankly, not comprehending. "Why?"
"Why not ? It’s not as though you mean anything to me."" He glared at the king scornfully. "What did you think, Iph, I was going to settle down and play house with you? " he demanded incredulously. He curled his lip at Iphicles’ naiveté and gestured imperiously towards Strife. He spoke again.
After that crushing statement, everything passed as if in a daze for Iphicles. Strife knew how to arouse his body even if his mind and heart cried out for Ares’ knowing touch. They fucked, Iphicles mechanically, Strife with enthusiasm. Ares watched intently as Iphicles’ well-built body wrestled with Strife’s lithe form, stroking his own cock through the skin tight black leather and breathing heavily, aroused by this evidence of his control over the king, directing their actions in a low throaty voice.
Iphicles did all that his god asked of him, even managed to cum. It left him feeling dirty, used. The last of his self-respect disappeared. He could no longer pretend to himself. Once it was over, he curled himself into a ball and waited to be alone again. He rocked himself gently, back and forth, waiting for the pain to go away. He thought about absolutely nothing.
(Two months later.)
"I told you never to fuck anyone without my permission!"
Joxer froze in place in the bed, quivering nervously. Bladder control loss appeared imminent.
Iphicles rolled onto his back, displaying complete unconcern about the furious wargod glowering at them from the foot of the bed, his darkly handsome face framed by the bed’s velvet draperies. He laced his hands behind his head for comfort, his beautifully sculpted torso highlighted by the sweat of his recent exertions. He said nothing, his eyes fixed almost hungrily on Ares.
Ares read his silence as insolence, glaring at Iphicles whilst ignoring Joxer’s existence. "Answer me."
"I got tired of waiting for you," he replied tersely. Iphicles looked the god straight in the eye, eager for his reaction.
"Are you trying to tell me something here, Iphicles?" The god was evidently holding on his temper with some difficulty. "Would you be trying to blackmail me?"
Ares strode round to the side of the bed, leaning over ‘til his bearded face was only inches away from the king’s, filling the air with his distinctive masculine smell of leather, sweat and blood. He stared hard at Iphicles, challenging him.
"Two can play that game. How would you like Hercules suddenly overcome with a consuming passion for your admittedly tasty body, Iph? Cupid owes me a favour or two." Ares smiled evilly, his eyes dead black.
Iphicles winced at the thought of sex with his moral half brother. The fucking itself might be enjoyable, but Herc would certainly obsess about it afterwards and spoil it for both of them, droning on about incest, convinced he’d done wrong. He still wasn’t talking to his brother after the last incident involving Ares.
"You wouldn’t do that, Ares. If you object to Joxer, you’d certainly not relish the thought of your rival fucking me." His voice was still level, still calm. He maintained eye contact.
Ares’ voice had dropped to a whisper. That scared Iphicles more than any amount of shouting. An angry Ares he could deal with. In fact, some of their best sex had been the result of Ares’ anger, hours of rough, demanding fucking. It seemed to be his preferred method of working away the tensions of his position. This was a side he hadn’t seen before. This seeming calm. He didn’t know what to say, how to react.
"This isn’t over, Iphicles."
Iphicles closed his eyes in relief , dropping the arrogant facade as the god faded out of view. He felt the tension leave his body, leaving him drained.
"You used me? Just to get his attention?"
Iphicles opened his eyes. Joxer’s voice contained a certain amount of sadness. He reached out and drew him against his chest, soothing his fears with physical contact, stroking his straight, dark hair.
"I want you, Joxer - never doubt that." He smiled gently, reassuringly, running his fingertips over the pale skin of his lover. "Ares doesn’t own me or even want me most of the time. You helped me remember what love is." His voice was tinged with bitterness.
Joxer lifted his head, his clear brown eyes looking deeply into Iphicles’ amber eyes. "But you don’t love me, Iph." He kissed him softly on the lips to make his words seem less harsh. "If you did, you wouldn’t be trying to get Ares’ attention by any possible means. If you cared about me, you’d have warned me about the danger. He could have killed us both without a second thought."
He paused, considering his words carefully. "You’re not the man I used to know. When you asked me to come back, I thought you regretted breaking up with me. But it’s obvious to me, that Ares has you, heart and soul."
Iphicles stared mutely at him, trying to deny the truth behind Joxer’s too perceptive words. There was no accusation, only understanding. He bowed his head, wordlessly seeking comfort. Joxer held him tightly, soothing him as he cried out his hurt and uncertainty like a child in his arms. Eventually, the sobbing subsided.
"I’m sorry, Joxer. You deserve better." His voice was subdued, genuinely regretting his selfishness.
"I understand, Iphicles. I understand more than you’ll ever know. " Joxer’s mouth twisted wryly. Iphicles didn’t know his own history with Ares and it was simpler to keep it that way. "I’m here when you need me." He stroked the handsome face, brushing away the tears with his thumb. "I just want you to understand what you’re doing. To both of us."
He kissed the king’s lips again, this time as a parting gesture. Felt them open, felt Iphicles’ tongue move softly over his own lips, caressingly. Felt arms tighten around him. Joxer knew he should leave but it took more strength than he possessed to turn down Iphicles’ sweet kisses and unspoken desire for comfort.
"Ares ! Ares !" Joxer shouted loudly, aggressively demanding the god’s presence in a way that would have astounded most people who knew him. "I want to talk to you, Ares." He marched purposefully through gloomy temple, bypassing altars and statues without a second glance.
He’d left Corinth early the previous morning as the sun rose into the brilliant azure sky, the smell of sex still on him. Abandoning his plans to meet up with Xena and Gabrielle, he’d borrowed a horse from Iphicles’ stables and headed in the opposite direction through vineyards and orchards, aiming for a remote temple two days’ ride from Corinth. He was determined to confront Ares but equally anxious not to do so in Corinth’s shrine to Ares for fear of word getting back to the king.
A subtle air movement in the chamber warned Joxer that he wasn’t alone, and he whirled to confront the dark god.
"You and Iphicles, right?" Ares stared challengingly at the thin man with his collection of homemade armour. He smiled without humour, his eyes black and threatening. "Afraid of what I’ll do? " His voice lowered and he smiled unpleasantly. "To hurt your lover?"
"He doesn’t love me, Ares." There was no emotion in Joxer’s voice, not even self-pity.
"Aww, poor Joxer."
Ares was at his most insincere today, a small voice in Joxer’s head noted, as the god postured and pretended sadness at his words He wondered why. Normally he only stooped to that level of childishness when he was trying to nettle Xena or Hercules. He forced himself to stand a little straighter, to bolster his courage.
"Then why are you here ? Worried about yourself ?" The God of War leered at him. "You’re a good fuck, Joxer. It’d be a waste to kill you." He turned his back and walked away from Joxer dismissively, the conversation finished as far as he was concerned.
"I’m not afraid to die, Ares. I didn’t come here to plead for myself. "
"Not afraid?" Ares laughed. "You spend most of your life afraid, Joxer." He smiled sardonically and there was suddenly a silver throwing dagger in his right hand. He made as if to throw it and Joxer cringed instinctively, knowing there was nothing he could do if the god decided to wound or kill him merely to prove his point. He desperately tried to change the subject back to Iphicles before he lost his nerve.
"Please don’t hurt Iphicles !" he almost shouted.
The god paused, dagger still poised for throwing. "I’m threatening you, and you’re begging mercy for _him_?" He sneered. "You must really have it bad. You should be in Aphrodite’s temple writing poetry, not here." He wasn’t prepared to deal with for the stark truth of Joxer’s next words.
"He wants you more than anything else, Ares." Joxer wondered if his words were making any impact on the angry god, if he was doing more harm than good. "It was a plea for your attention."
"By fucking somebody else ? That’s the way he wanted to get my attention?"
"If that was the only way he could get it, yes. Don’t you see, it’s a vicious circle. You hurt him, he hurts you. Everybody’s unhappy."
"Get out of here !"
Ares threw a fireball to punctuate his command. Joxer quickly decided that the conversation was definitely at an end and scrambled out as fast as he could, falling over his feet in his haste to leave.
Ares threw himself down on his throne and brooded. The sight of Iphicles with Joxer had disturbed him more than he could admit, even to himself. Somehow, he’d lost control of the situation. He would regain it, no matter what it took.
It had been several weeks since Joxer had left. Days in which Iphicles tried desperately to tire himself, hoping to sleep. Perhaps even to dream. But his dreams were haunted by his fears and he woke screaming more than once.
Somehow the loneliness was worse than the dream-filled time before Ares had revealed himself. Now Iphicles knew what and who he wanted. He just couldn’t have him. Perhaps the man or god he thought he loved didn’t even exist. The emptiness leeched all joy and colour from his life, made him a shadow of his former self.
The only hope was Ares’ threat of punishment. Iphicles used that to remind himself that he would see the god again - surely he would never be satisfied with revenge at a distance or through an agent.
Even as he held onto his last small hope, he knew it had to end. He couldn’t continue on this way. He had to move on with his life.
The god lounged in his temple in front of the pool once more displaying the king’s bedchamber. He watched the king toss and turn. Stared at that vulnerable face with its shadow of a beard. The plan had been so clear cut once. To humiliate and control the man responsible for that debacle with Ajax and the returned warriors from the Trojan war. To bend and perhaps break his spirit. Iphicles refused to play the part designated for him, that of a god’s plaything.
Somehow his main objective, revenge, had been lost. Now it was less an affront to his position as the god of warriors and much more personal. The game itself was more interesting, seeing just how far he could push the king. He could be pushed much further than Ares had thought from the start - his willing submission to the god’s every command made the god more aggressive, hotter than ever to fuck him.
Yet when Iphicles lashed back at him indirectly by fucking Joxer, he felt betrayed. He clenched his teeth. He refused to admit anything more than a sneaking admiration for the king. He definitely wasn’t jealous. He would not feel anything. He would not. He rose from his couch, paced furiously across the chamber . He would _not_.
The sea breeze cleared his head of the cobwebs that had filled it for weeks now. Iphicles breathed deeply, enjoying the hint of salt, the faint mist of spray, the rocking of the deck beneath his feet. The inspection of Corinth’s warships was a welcome diversion from his day to day routine. He made a mental note to thank Parniseus for suggesting the idea.
Familiar arms encircled him from behind and he relaxed back into them without thinking. Whole again. He enjoyed the wordless embrace for a few more seconds, reluctant to speak and break the moment. He wanted nothing more than to stand here for eternity, safe in Ares’ arms. But the coming confrontation was inevitable. It had to be done.
There was a wealth of longing in his voice, emotion that had almost choked him over the past month. The god smiled, assured of his welcome. And yet there was a little contempt too, contempt for the king who continued to accept the punishments visited on him.
"Iphicles……..look at me."
"No?" Ares was taken aback. It wasn’t a word he was used to hearing - at least not applied to him. He shrugged. Obviously Iphicles had decided he needed to be taught a lesson. He could indulge him, humour him - for a short time at least. He tightened his hold around the king’s waist and repeated the offending word again, playfully. "No?"
"I won’t do what you tell me, Ares." Iphicles stared out to sea, his eyes focused in middle distance, chin lifted determinedly. He was calm outwardly. Inside his stomach churned and his guts knotted. He desperately wanted to relieve himself. "I can’t live like this."
Ares frowned. This was not what he had expected. True, he had thought he might need to smooth Iphicles’ ruffled feathers, perhaps even tell a small lie or two about how he hadn’t mean to leave him alone for so long, but this flat refusal of a request was unlike Iph.
"It’s not what you ask of me now, Ares. It’s what you’ll order me to do in the future." He paused, searching for the right words. Not being able to see the god’s face made this easier than it might have been, but by Zeus it was still difficult to feel those arms around him and not react as his body urged. "You don’t respect me for wanting you, for loving you - you despise me."
He waited for a denial. He would have sacrificed anything he had to hear a denial and to be able to believe it. There was none. The god was silent. There was only the sounds of the sea, the boat and the sea birds that circled endlessly overhead. The tension was unbearable and his determination slipping away minute by minute. He lashed out blindly, his words designed to force the god away.
"Why Ares? Why are you still here?" Anger crept into his voice, overcoming the sadness. "You said that if I disobeyed you, rejected you, you’d leave. Why are you still here ?"
"I’m going, Iphicles." Ares didn’t know why he was still there. He didn’t know why he wasn’t angry, or upset, or even trying to overpower him with raw sexuality. He only knew that he didn’t want leave like this. He loosened his grip on the king and stepped back, confused. Seeing Iphicles’ shoulders slump, he felt something break inside him. It scared him. He need to say something but he had no words. He was gone.
From that day on, the god’s name never crossed Iphicles’ lips. As if ashamed of his prior preoccupation, he devoted his whole life to his kingdom. He concentrated his efforts on building Corinth into a haven for artisans, philosophers, merchants. He accomplished the not inconsiderable feat of reviving the flagging ship building industry and initiated a major public works program without overtaxing the people. The city-state prospered under his rule.
Joxer returned to visit at Iphicles’ request but they both knew that what they had had was gone. Iphicles was too conscious of the way he had used Joxer. He also knew the emotional intensity he had felt with Ares was unlikely to be repeated with another lover, yet he was unwilling to settle for anything less. For his own part, Joxer’s self-confidence never recovered - his trust in Iphicles was gone. Though both men still cared deeply, by unspoken agreement they remained only friends.
At the urging of the King’s Council there were discussions of a state marriage. Iphicles felt he was unlikely to suffer that fate in the immediate future given their propensity for arguing the most trivial matters to death. No doubt by the time they were unanimous on the most advantageous alliance, he’d be his grandfather’s age.
Two years passed, prosperous years. Then the king, overworking himself as always, fell ill with one of the fevers that swept the city in the autumn. Usually the elderly and infants were the worst affected, adults having greater reserves to draw upon, but Iphicles was proving the exception to the rule. When he heard of his brother’s illness, Hercules left his companion Iolaus to continue their work and headed swiftly to Corinth.
At the palace, the physician took him aside before admitting him to the sick room. "He had the fever badly, but he’s over the worst now. He’s strong enough to recover but he’s not trying. Perhaps you can encourage him." The doctor shook his head, baffled. "I don’t understand what’s wrong with him."
Hercules stood in the doorway, staring at the still figure in the middle of the large bed. His older brother had never been seriously ill before and now he was at death’s door if the doctor was to be believed. Ill at ease, he walked over and sat on the very edge of the bed, alarmed by the prominence of his cheekbones, by how thin and drawn he looked.
The sound of his name woke Iphicles from his light doze. He looked at his brother as if he was a stranger for several moments before recognising his face. He smiled warmly, genuinely glad to see him.
"How are you feeling, Iph ?"
The king snorted. "Well if you listen to that quack, I’m dying. He must think that he gets paid according to the seriousness of the illness."
Hercules said nothing, gazing at his brother. His worried face told Iphicles he didn’t believe him. The king sighed heavily, wishing his brother hadn’t succumbed to the general air of worry that permeated the palace these days. He just didn’t have the energy to convince him otherwise.
"He did this to you, didn’t he ?" asked Hercules.
Iphicles knew who he meant. Hercules had never referred to him by name in Iphicles’ presence, not since the night he’d learned more than he ever wanted to about his attraction to both his half-brothers. His own refusal to utter that name came from the same source, an irrational fear that to speak his name would summon the god. He shook his head, denying it.
"Don’t defend him still, Iphicles ! He’s not worth it."
His temper flared and he half rose, pushing his torso off the bed in his agitation. "I’m not ! Not everything in this world is his fault, Herc. Some things we do to ourselves." He sighed and laid back, visibly tired by the outburst. He continued in a more subdued tone.
"I’m not dying. I don’t want to die, Herc, I’m not some cheap character in a melodrama, dying from unrequited love. Yes, he hurt me, but I let him do it. I should have been stronger, should have told him where to go the first time he told me to do something against my better judgment." He studied his brother’s face. It felt good to get all this out in the open finally, allowing the poison to leech away. "Of course, I’m not the only one to blame here. If he wasn’t such an unmitigated asshole with nothing better to do than spend his life manipulating everyone, we might have had a chance but I honestly think hurting me was the only way he could show emotion."
He laughed humourlessly. "You know what the worst part is? I made him leave me alone and I still can’t let go. Even if he is a sadistic, sheep molesting, gutless, depraved, degenerate, cowardly son of a bitch with………."
Iphicles continued to list Ares’ attributes in a most uncomplimentary fashion at great length. If nothing else, he’d certainly devoted a great deal of time to learning some of the most colourful terms in the Greek language, thought Hercules. The angry catalogue brought welcome colour to his cheeks. He left his brother still thinking of suitable adjectives to describe the offending god and wandered off to find get a second opinion of his medical condition. He certainly had a lot of anger for somebody who was supposedly on his last legs.
Left alone, Iphicles finally tired of demonstrating his expanded vocabulary. He finished with a final ‘Fuck you, Ares." and rolled over, ready for a nap.
A gust of displaced air alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone.
The large black-clad figure of the God of War loomed at the foot of Iphicles’ bed, uncharacteristically subdued. He looked as if he’d bitten into a lemon. He glanced at the king briefly, then at the floor.
"I’m sorry?" The god’s face twisted as if he couldn’t believe what he was saying.
"Was that a question or a statement?" Iphicles was surprised at how well he was dealing with this. His heart was racing and his palms sweaty but no signs of tension were evident in his voice.
The god glanced up from his detailed inspection of the cracks in the floor. "It was an apology," he rumbled, none too graciously.
The king stared. Of all the scenarios he had imagined on those lonely nights when sleep was a distant memory, this was _not_ one of them. True, most of involved anatomical impossibilities and an awful lot of screaming on Ares’ part, but this was way weirder.
"Why are you doing this?" A dreadful suspicion crossed his mind. Had Herc used his influence with Zeus to force an apology in hopes of reviving his brother from his near-death experience? It was just the sort of incredibly insensitive thing he would dream up.
He wouldn’t have thought it possible but the god looked even more uncomfortable.
"I don’t want you to hate me anymore."
"Excuse me? Are you out of your mind?" His voice rose hysterically. "After the way you abused me, tortured me, and just generally screwed up my life !" He was practically screaming now, covers falling away as he sat upright. "You don’t want me to hate you anymore ! Fuck ! You egomaniacal bastard !"
He threw himself back flat against the bed, angry, confused, too exasperated to even attempt expressing his feelings. He chose to attack instead.
He stared at the god incredulously. "You can’t be doing this just because you can’t live with your own conscience - you don’t have one." He threw the bed clothes off and stood, unwilling to continue while prone. He was wobbly but his fury gave him an edge. "Do you really think that you can come back after all this time, offer me a lame apology and pick up where you left off? Your ego is incredible. What the fuck makes you think I still want you?"
"Well, you haven’t exactly been looking twice at anyone else." Ares realised he’d revealed his surveillance and quickly tried to cover the mistake. "And either you’ve got a nasty groin tumour or you’re really pleased to see me." The god smirked, gesturing at the scanty loincloth Iphicles was wearing. It was not the smartest thing he’d ever done. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Iphicles finally lost all self-control and did what he’d been longing to do for a long, long time. He lunged forward and punched the god, throwing all of his weight behind the blow. Blood flowing from his lip, Ares staggered back a step.
"Nice left." The war god wiped the gleaming blood from his mouth, with the back of his hand. The king swung for him again, narrowly missing as the god ducked lithely under the blow.
"This is not a good idea, Iph. It’s too close to foreplay for me." He grinned at Iphicles. His tone was light but there was a certain hunger in his eyes..
"There you go, thinking about yourself again. Don’t you understand I just want to beat the shit out of you, you asshole ?" He advanced on the god who backed away uncertainly. This was not the compliant man he thought he knew.
"I said I’m sorry," he frowned.
"Yeah, I heard you. I need to teach you some respect as well. You can’t just use people as if they were toys."
The god opened his mouth ready to say that he could if he wanted then realised this wouldn’t win him any friends. He hated this almost grovelling but he’d missed Iphicles and if he had to swallow his pride ‘til he calmed down, he could. As long as it didn’t take too long. Then again, perhaps there was another way to do this.
"Go on then."
The king looked at him suspiciously then decided he wasn’t likely to get a second invitation. He threw himself at Ares, knocking him backwards. The pair wrestled, rolling over and over, each trying to pin his opponent to the ground. Iphicles’ weakened condition was hampering him in the uneven contest between god and mortal, but he hung on tenaciously, determined to make the most of his opportunity. He cursed the god as they struggled, punching and gouging.
Naturally, Ares won the contest. He laid on top of the king, using his body weight to restrict Iphicles’ movement. His captive bucked, trying to free himself, his chest heaving with the exertion as he sought to free his wrists from the god’s steely grip. Ares lowered his head to whisper erotically in the king’s ear, tongue flickering out to tease.
"Are we done?"
Denied any other course of action, Iphicles snarled angrily, and sank his teeth in Ares’ neck. Blood gushed from the wound, smearing his mouth scarlet. The god winced, tawny eyes opening wide in desire, aroused by the pain and by the anger that drove his prisoner. He stared at the enraged man beneath him, bent his ebony head slowly and kissed him thoroughly, passionately, before pulling back. He licked his lips, tasting his own blood, its metallic tang still warm from the king’s lush lips. He swooped down to steal another kiss.
This time Iphicles was ready for him. He opened his mouth willingly, disconcerting the god who nonetheless made the most of the opportunity,. He waited until he felt himself start to respond to seductive taste of the god then rolled sharply to the left, taking Ares with him, forcing the god under him, into the position Iphicles had just abandoned. Now he had the upper hand.
Positioned as they were, chest to chest and thigh to thigh, he couldn’t mistake the hard cock rubbing against him, separated from him only by the cream coloured linen of his loincloth and the smooth black leather of the god’s attire. He panted, hot, tired, incredibly aroused by the thought of Ares beneath him, at his mercy. He knew he couldn’t win a straight contest of strength, but there were other ways to prove himself the master. This time it was he who kissed Ares, a harsh kiss, violently invading his mouth, sucking his tongue, biting the soft lips. The god was quiescent, visibly surprised by this assault.
Iphicles enjoyed the sensation of control, relishing his power while it lasted. He moved his body against Ares’, eyes half closed in enjoyment. Perhaps it was time to push his luck, to see just how far he could go.
"Get rid of the clothes, Ares. I’m going to fuck you."
The god gaped at him. Who did he think he was, giving orders to a god? Commonsense overrode his arrogance, forcing him to admit that he wanted to get rid of the clothes anyway - and there was a certain dark pleasure in hearing Iphicles command him to prepare for sex. He could do the submission gig: for a short time at least. Obligingly, he obeyed and was rewarded with the sensation of hot sweaty skin on skin. Oh yeah, that was good. He squirmed, seeking more contact with Iphicles’ golden flesh.
Iphicles released the god’s wrists. "Leave your arms where they are. I don’t want you to move until I tell you to."
He scowled warningly at the god. Ares gave him a ‘who me?’ look and moved not an inch. His pupils were dilated with lust, huge, dark. Iphicles’ hands traced the contours of his muscles from forearm to tricep to pectorals, massaging, stroking, rubbing, kneading. He fingered the contours of his ribs, dipped into the planes of his flat stomach. Ares relaxed under his skilled touch, eyes half-lidded, his nipples hardening with arousal, barely noticing as the king parted his legs and moved to kneel between them without missing changing the rhythm of his hands.
His eyes flew open as Iphicles slowly worked his middle finger into the god’s tight crevice. This wasn’t something he usually allowed - then again, he was supposed to apologising. And it did feel good, gliding in and out smoothly. He relaxed and relinquished all control gladly to concentrate on the sensations.
Iphicles saw the tension leave the god’s body and knew he’d won the battle.
"Oil," he demanded, holding out his hand. It appeared in his palm, glistening and sweet smelling, already warmed to body temperature.
Sitting up, he coated his throbbing cock generously then switched hands to thrust a slick finger inside Ares, pushing it deep inside and feeling the god push back in turn, eager for more. He debated driving him crazy, but he knew his hold over the god was tenuous and it had been too long. He wanted to be inside that hot passage. He had to be inside.
Inch by inch he pushed into Ares’ ass, guiding himself with one hand. Oh god, it was almost enough to make him scream. He was rock hard, his cock weeping copiously as he pushed into that tight, tight ass, feeling the god writhe sinuously beneath him. Ares’ eyes were closed as he enjoyed the unfamiliar sensation, drawing his legs out of the way and biting his bottom lip sensuously. The god’s cock was taut against his firm stomach, each bulging vein clearly delineated. Pre-cum oozed from the head. Iphicles swirled a finger in the moisture, coated his hand and grasped it firmly, stroking it from head to base. Felt Ares push up, responding to the pressure, felt his ass muscles clamp down on his own cock in response.
He pulled back, leaving only the very tip of his cock in place. Hesitated long enough to feel the frenzied movements of the god beneath him, demanding more, then rammed himself inside, full length. The god groaned.
"Harder," he half entreated, half commanded.
Iphicles lost all control, thrusting in and out madly, grunting. His hand slid up and down the velvety thickness of Ares’ cock, milking the god as he came hard, crying out. Lips curved upwards in a smile of pure pleasure, he convulsively spurted his cum inside the tightly gripping passage, overcome by the spasms of the god’s ass contracting around his pounding cock.
"So what happens now?" Some of the arrogance had disappeared from the god’s voice. Not all of it true, but it was a start. And he was still uncertain of his welcome. Good. Iphicles liked him off-balance. See how he liked it.
He pretended to consider the matter, flat on his back, enjoying a sense of well-being.
"Depends," he answered finally.
Ares controlled his temper. "Depends on what?"
"On whether you can be reasonable. And if I want to take the chance that you won’t turn back into the same old lying, manipulative, domineering…."
Ares placed a hand over Iphicles’ mouth briefly to silence him. "I get the idea already. You don’t really need all the adjectives." He considered it for a moment. "What else?"
"Don’t threaten me. Don’t give me orders. And don’t expect me to share you."
Hmm, that could be a problem, thought the god. He’d grown fond of Strife’s company. Still the younger god had been hanging round Joxer lately - if he hadn’t already discovered his talents and disconcerting habit of being right just when it was most inconvenient, then it was time he did. A little subtle manipulation and they’d think it was all their own idea. Even better, it would annoy the living daylights out of Xena.
"I can do that," he allowed.
"Ares? Do something else for me?" Iphicles’ face was lit up with an unholy glee.
The god looked at him warily and made a noncommittal sound. "Mmmm?"
"You wanna do something really nice for me ? Find a physician who’ll tell Herc that I’m sick because of some horrible undiagnosed sexually transmitted illness. It’d be worth sitting through the lecture just to see how embarrassed he gets explaining what’s wrong with me." He glanced sideways at the god. "Mind you, you’ll probably get the blame for giving it to me. But at least it’ll give him something real to worry about."
The god smiled thoughtfully. Not nearly evil enough but it had possibilities. "I can do that."
He rolled onto his side, eyeing his lover’s body. "But later, Iph. Much later." He kissed Iphicles deeply, brushed the stray strands of hair from his glowing face.