How Sweet My Dessert
Iphicles held the substantial pastry lovingly, salivating in anticipation of the sweet taste of the honey that coated the flaky layers, the crunchy texture of the nuts. The thought of this one small contribution to the culinary arts of Greece had kept him going all day, through the endless meetings and council sessions full of boring and monotonous speakers and petitions. Throughout it all, visions of dancing baklava had inspired him to hold on and endure, for little did the world know, Iphicles was a closet pastry junkie.
His sleep robes rustled softly as, with exaggerated caution, Iphicles checked his bedchamber yet again. He had earlier dismissed his personal guard and attendants but they had a tendency to slip back in against his wishes, continuously anxious to tend to his every need. Privacy was a precious thing for the King of Corinth and privacy is what was required absolutely just now. Of course, being king also meant he now had the resource to accommodate this special delight
Satisfied that he was well and truly alone, he moved back to the polished ebony table near the bed. Looking down at the small tin there that sheltered his prize possessions, he counted them. Counting the one in his had he had six baklava remaining. With care, he could make them last for several hours. Whether it was inbred from childhood or what had caused it, he couldn't say, but whatever the reason, his obsession made him feel guilty. Shaking his head at his own perceived weakness, he ran his empty hand carefully across his mid-section, checking for any added bulk. This was a habit that could literally add to his existence in a way he wasn't ready to deal with. Still a young man in the prime of life, he didn't fancy that he was prepared for what was so quaintly described by many as love handles.
Exhaling in relief at finding the flesh taut and firm as usual, he sat down on the edge of the bed. Looking at the pastry he had held for some minutes now, he realized his fingers were now quite sticky from the honey covered sweet, but that was easily remedied. Licking his lips in anticipation, he moved clover to the long awaited delight of the baklava, extending his tongue to clean a dribble of honey from the back of his thumb. A deep voice made him jump and nearly lose control of his precious dessert.
"What in the name of Hades is that?"
Iphicles spun round only to come face to face with a very puzzled and amused God of War. Ares was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed. Ares had become a frequent visitor since Rena's death, but normally he gave advance notice of his intent to visit. Trying to rein in his surprise at this unexpected interruption, Iphicles was equally puzzled by the question.
"I don't know what you're doing here right now, Ares, but if you're talking about what I was about to eat, it's a baklava."
This did not seem to be much of a clarification for the God of War. "Okay, so it's a baklava. So, what is it?"
Iphicles shook his head. "I can't believe this. First, you show up unannounced in the middle of my bed, and then you ask me something like this. How in the name of Zeus, oh, sorry, how could you possibly be a Greek god and not know what baklava is?"
Ares quickly tried to look anywhere but at Iphicles. "Well...I...that is...well, you see..." The God of War was distinctly uncomfortable with the question.
Iphicles persisted. "Ares, you're how old? You must be over a thousand and I know you didn't grow up under a rock. Why don't you know what this is?"
Ares raised his brows, looking sheepishly at Iphicles. "Not exactly under a rock, no, but...you could say I was very sheltered for a long, long time."
Iphicles perked up at this. Ares was not one to talk about his personal life. "I don't understand. Ares, you're a god. You have the power to do anything you want, go anywhere you want..."
Ares shrugged. "Ah, little mortal, you think that means we aren't governed by rules and regulations too? You don't know Hera. Mom was really tough. Not that she was ever there, but she made sure I was watched. She wouldn't let me leave home until my 500th year. Even then she had me under constant supervision. I couldn't do anything that had even the remotest possibility of making me weak or soft. I had my first taste of mortal food only a few hundred years ago."
Iphicles listened in fascination as Ares reminisced. The god was so caught up in the telling of his own history he seemed to have forgotten the king's presence. "I wasn't allowed to consort with mortals. Once my position was solidified, I was able to break free of her hold. I mean, I've tried to make up for lost time with a vengeance..." Ares seemed to suddenly realize how much he was revealing and smiled at the frowning king.
In a startlingly quick move, Ares snatched at the hand holding the oozing pastry. Holding the king's hand firmly in front of him, he pointedly examined the baklava. "Even now, like your precious whatsit, there are things I'm finding out I know little about." Leaning in, Ares ran his tongue over the sticky honey which had pooled on Iphicles' hand. Licking his lips in pleasant surprise, he stared at Iphicles.
"Honey! It's honey!"
Iphicles jerked back his hand. "Of course, it's honey! That's what makes it sweet. And it's MINE!" He clutched his precious pastry, daring Ares to try that again.
Ares frowned at the king and glanced over at the tin on the table. "You have more, surely you can share?"
Iphicles sighed deeply. "Ares, you don't understand. I've been waiting for this all day. I want them all, I have to have them all." Something occurred to the king. "What are you doing here? It's not like you to just pop in like this."
Ares smiled a little too pleasantly. "You have no idea what vibes you've been sending out, babe. I couldn't stay away. I had to see what was making you feel so wanton. Those little whatsits must really be something else to make you broadcast like that."
"Broadcast? You can read my thoughts?" Iphicles was horrified at the prospect.
Ares chuckled at the king's discomfort. "Not thoughts, babe, emotions, aura, whatever you want to call it. You don't usually come over like that so I figured you must be contemplating something really wicked. So, how wicked is this...what did you call it?"
Iphicles shook his head, feeling peeved and generally put out. "Baklava! And you are keeping me from enjoying the moment I've been waiting for all day! Honestly, Ares, I don't know why you come here at all. It's not like you couldn't get the same thing from anyone else. The only thing I can figure is that I look just enough like you that this is as close as you can get to making love to yourself!" Each word was punctuated with a motion of the baklava filled hand. The honey was continuing to ooze from the pastry,
nearly gluing Iphicles' fingers together, irritating the frustrated king further.
"Whoa, whoa. That was NOT called for. Okay, so you look like me. And no, I haven't figured out why yet, but I'm not that much of an egotist." Ares paused, knitting his brows in thought. "Well, maybe I am, but I truly enjoy your company, my dear king. Right now I'm not sure why, but I swear, as Zeus is my witness, our similar appearance, while intriguing, is not why I come here."
Iphicles turned his back on the God of War. "Ares, I'd like to believe that, I really would, but right now I want one thing, and one thing only; to be left in peace with my baklava. Can't you understand that?"
Ares flopped back against the pillows, stretching out and making himself comfortable. "Nope, I can't, but since you refuse to share, I don't see how I could. Remember this, a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled."
Iphicles turned back to stare down at the Olympian sprawled across his bed.
"Philosophy? Since when did you become a philosopher?"
Ares tucked his hands under his head and smiled again. "I've always been philosophical. In my line of work, you have to be or you'll go mad. You don't want me to go mad now, do you?"
Iphicles rolled his eyes. "No, I just want you to go away."
Ares chuckled a bit at this. "You don't mean that. You know how you love it when I make you squeal. I could do that right now. I could make you a lot happier than that sticky thing you can't seem to put down. You remember how much noise you made the last time." The God of War began to demonstrate, howling like a cat in heat.
If Iphicles had been horrified before, he was doubly so now. "Ares, SHUT UP! Stop it!" The entire population of the castle would be in here soon if Ares didn't pipe down. The howling went on, in between the giggles. "SHUT UP!!!"
Ares only got louder, his laughter accentuating the howls making a bizarre, barnyard cacophony. As the godly lips parted once more to let loose with a howl, a desperate king shoved the sticky pastry in the Olympian mouth. The howling ceased immediately, blocked very effectively by the honey drenched sweet. Iphicles watched in uncertain silence as Ares lifted a hand to the baklava, holding it as he slowly bit off a portion. Chewing and then swallowing, he smiled up at the king. He moved the baklava to Iphicles mouth, gesturing for him to take a bite also. Iphicles hesitated but a moment, suddenly feeling overwarm. He leaned down, placing his hand around Ares' hand, raising the sweet to his mouth and wrapping his lips around it. As Iphicles bit into the flaky layers, Ares stroked a thumb across the king's lip. The god watched as Iphicles savored the flavor and finally swallowed his bite.
"See, sharing is nice, isn't it? Want to try sharing some more?" Ares placed the baklava between his lips and drew the king down to join their mouths around the pastry. Moans mixed with giggles from both god and king alike as their mouths worked at demolishing the sweet. Soon they were down to lips and tongues, luxuriating in the aftertaste of honey. Easing back a moment later to catch his breath, Iphicles smiled down at the god in his bed.
"You tricked me!"
Ares smiled back. "Damn straight! It worked didn't it!" Ares looked over at the table holding the tin with the remaining baklava. "I think I understand why you feel so strongly about this baklava now. What do you say? Let's have ourselves a bit of dessert?"
Iphicles looked at the tin, then back at the smoldering gaze of the God of War. He began to see the wisdom in the philosophy of sharing. Suddenly the thought of having the pastry all to himself no longer mattered. Iphicles looked back at Ares and smiled in what he imagined passed for an innocent expression. "What did you have in mind?"
Ares looked a bit evil as he made a decision. "First, we gotta lose some of these clothes." A slight tingle and the movement of air on bare skin told Iphicles that the sleep robe had been wished away along with the leathers of the War God.
"You know I hate when you do that. I keep telling you, it's a lot sexier to take them off slowly." Iphicles was put out, but only a little.
"Yeah, well, that takes too long." Ares raised up to reach over and pull the tin onto the bed. He reached inside for one of the pastries, lifting it and considering its sticky quality. Looking up at the quizzical king, Ares acted on impulse and smeared the pastry down his own chest, feeling the layers break apart and deposit themselves among the hairs on his chest. He took extra care to coat his nipples with the stickiest portion and continued rubbing until he was left with a shredded nub of baklava. This he placed in
his mouth, swirling it around before swallowing. A glance at Iphicles showed that his actions had the desired result. The king was fully aroused, his mouth parted and his breath quickened.
"Care for dessert, King Iphicles?"
"Oh, damn," Iphicles managed a breathy response. "I really love baklava." With a throaty growl he threw himself at the God of War, thinking in one last moment of clarity, *four more, we've got four more*. It was going to be a good night after all.
The chambermaid cursed under her breath as she worked at straightening the royal bedchamber. "Dammit, he was eating in bed again! I'm never going to get this sticky mess out." She stripped the sheets from the bed savagely, wondering at how he managed to get what appeared to be honey on all the bed posts as well. She'd have to come back with something to clean that with later. Too many sweets, that was the problem. It was no small wonder he was so late in rising this morning. She threw the sheets into the corner and turned to retrieve her dust pan. That's when she noticed the note on the bed table. She turned it over, feeling a bit guilty. This was the king's private place after all. But her curiosity won out. Being one of the few servants in the palace that could read, she was privileged enough to be able to decipher the print on the paper. After reading it she frowned. The words made no sense at all. Shrugging it off as something only the aristocracy could fathom, she replaced the note exactly as she had found it. Still the words swam in her head, unclear in their meaning.
The floor swept, she picked up the soiled linen and left the room, glancing once more at the note on the bed table and thinking over the words yet again.
"How sweet the dessert when shared, how bitter when consumed in solitude and
loneliness. Till next time, little king."