As High As His Palace
By Foxmonkey

I love Iphicles.

Before you get a burr up your ass about what Ares, God of War would or wouldn't say about being in love, or even whether I'm capable of that emotion, take it from the god himself: I love Iphicles.

You've seen him, right?  The Fates gave him my face, and one of these days I'll ask those bitches why.  Funny, isn't it?  Hercules is the demigod, but Iphicles is the one that looks it. Could that be the joke the Fates were playing?  Could it be a joke on my thick little brother?  Hercules is a demigod, but
Iphicles is divine, if you know what I mean.

Forget I said that.

This isn't something I do every day.  I don't talk about Iphicles and I don't share; I'm not a sharing kind of god.  Successful battle plans depend on stealth and secrecy, and that's the kind of god I am, secretive.  Trust?  I trust the power of a blade or a fist to bend wills.  I trust *me*.   I've killed monsters.  I've killed prophets.  When one of Iphicles' councilors called him an 'unwashed warrior brat', the fool's body was cooling within the hour.  The life of an anonymous mortal means nothing to me.  You're lucky I'm in a good mood.

Where was I?  Ah.  Iphicles.

He doesn't know, of course.  He's not really sure that I love him.  I've never said it, and you mortals get a little huffy about that kind of thing, the saying of it. They're only words, why do you need to hear them?  I've done things to show that I care; eliminated troublesome warlords, given Corinth's armory caches of weapons from time to time..  As far as making
declarations goes.I'm the god of war.  My actions should be enough.

I first saw him at a birthday party for our blockheaded brother.  I'd thought about crashing the gathering - terrorizing the guests, kicking Hercules' ass around the room a couple of times - but in the end I just stood in a corner and watched Iphicles.  I'd taken one look at him and stopped breathing.  He was me, but more.

There's a vulnerability to him, a fragility you mortals have that gods don't.  But he's strong, make no mistake about that; I wouldn't waste my time with someone who wasn't.  I've seen him in a couple of skirmishes since he's become king.  His advisors hate it, but he was born to the sword.  His body's hard and graceful, and he fights with a fierce determination.
There's nothing like watching a skilled warrior slicing through the enemy like a sickle through wheat, barely pausing between blade strokes as men drop, bleeding, on either side.  It's a thing of beauty.

He looked uncomfortable at the party, though, watching dear old Mom cooing and clucking over the favorite son.  He made a pretty convincing show of fitting in, but I could see the ugly stuff he was trying to hide.  We both know it's not Blockhead's fault that he was born, but Iphicles resents Hercules as much as I do.  I'd have liked him for that, even if I hadn't gotten
hard just looking at him.

Hercules knew I was in the room, and I was driving him crazy by *not* doing anything. He kept looking at me, waiting for all Tartarus to break loose.   Eventually Alcmene noticed him tensing up every time someone scraped a chair against the floor, and he admitted I was there.  She looked surprised, but I have to give the old slut credit for being gracious. Baby brother's face turned bright red when she gave him a little slap on his arm and told him it was rude to ignore me.  She actually invited me to join the party!  It was *priceless*.

I'm not usually this open, and certainly not with a mortal. You realize that I don't have to answer your questions, that I'm talking to you because I *choose* to.  It's not like anyone will ever know - one burst of energy and you'll be a handful of cinders.  Oh, for Zeus' sake, it was a joke.  I'm not going to fireball your ass; I'll just wave my fingers and you won't remember a single word.  It's either that or fry you, and I'm not in the mood today.  Keep whining, though and I'll change my mind.

Anyway, the guests were properly awed when I showed myself.  I forgot to mention that Iphicles was newly married. His wife kept snuggling up to those big biceps like someone wanted to take him away, though I can't say I blamed her.  If I'd been his blushing almost-virgin bride, I'd have taken pride in the fact that I was fucking him, too.

Rena's - Iphicles' wife - eyes went wide and she blinked a few times when she looked at me, then she tightened her grip on his arm.  He didn't seem to notice, though; he was staring at me.  He stood up, whispered my name and gave me a warrior's salute. You should have seen Hercules' face; one brother paying tribute to the other, and no one paying attention to him.  If I hadn't been planning how and when to fuck Iphicles, I'd have laughed.

He'd have been easy to seduce - he's so beautifully needy - but I wanted something different with him.  Besides, I'd seen Rena's lifeline so I knew I wouldn't have to wait long.  Trying to corrupt him might've been interesting, but he had enough problems just being Hercules' brother.  You know what it's like being second best?  You want to matter to someone.  You want to come first, but nothing you do or say is ever good enough.  It's fucked.

You know, I could probably get used to this.  Maybe once every thousand years or so.  Find some mortal, cut loose with the emotions, scramble their brains, then get back to business.  Yeah, I could do that.

Here's one last confession:  I almost killed Hercules.

"Come rule at my side, Hercules; you've no more family down here." That's how Zeus conned Hercules into becoming a god right after Alcmene died.  Zeus kept telling him that it was a limited time offer, which was a crock. What was the rush?  Zeus is immortal and Hercules isn't going anywhere; the manipulative old fucker just used my brother's grief to get what he wanted.  Iphicles had gone to sea a few weeks earlier -  not that he'd have asked Iphicles' opinion - but Jason and Iolaus patted Hercules on the head and told him it was OK to go.  And off he went.  The miserable asshole kept his godhood long enough to toss my mother into Tartarus, then decided it wasn't his thing after all.  He ran straight to his little blond twat when he came back, blubbering that he'd left Olympus because, and I quote: "I realized how much my family means to
me.  And - you're it."  The nerve of that bastard freak!  I don't care how Hercules feels about me, but to have so little regard for the brother he grew up with...I could've ripped his heart out.

Killing Hercules would've been worth eternity in Tartarus, but one thing stopped me.  A few months earlier, Iphicles' wife and unborn child had died while he'd been away on royal business. He was still grieving, and I knew he'd be inconsolable when he
returned from sea to find that his mother had died while he was gone.  Adding Hercules to that body count would've been sweet for me, but too much for Iphicles.

I get revenge other ways, though.  When I fight Hercules, I don't pull my punches as much as I used to, and every punch, every kick is for his brother. Neither of them knows that, but I do, and it's enough.  That's another secret you won't be able to tell.

So here I am, talking to a mortal who won't remember this conversation.  I'm on the slopes of Mount Olympus, carving "I love you" in letters as high as his palace to show Iphicles that he comes first to someone.  That he matters to me.  That I love him.

I'll deny doing this.  I'll feign disinterest at first, then accuse him of having another lover.  He's got a temper, so he'll spin in circles denying it; eventually he'll realize that I'm yanking his cock.  Can you believe I'm doing this for a *mortal*, just
because it's his birthday?

And he says I'm not romantic.