Weep Not For All the Memories
It had been a week since Iphicles and Joxer had been reunited and the two men had spent each day talking about the last fifteen years of their lives, pausing only for sleep and the time Iphicles needed to spend on Corinthian business. Iphicles couldn't help but be impressed with what Joxer had done with his life. Sure, it was nothing like being King of Corinth, but he had done well considering where he'd begun. He was also impressed how, despite the life Joxer had led in Lord Janus' manor, he was still kind and compassionate with a gentle soul. And when Joxer smiled one of his once-rare goofy smiles, Iphicles didn't even mind the "helmet" and the "armour".
Joxer was still getting used to the fact that he was here with Iphicles, one of the first people ever to show him compassion, and the man to whom he'd lost his virginity. He was just as handsome as he'd remembered. He constantly had to force himself to look away from that face, a face he'd seen in his dreams almost every night for fifteen years. He'd clung to the memories of that last night together whenever his life was difficult, whenever anyone hurt him or made him feel he was worthless. At those times, he could remember that someone had once seen something in him that was special.
The two men had gotten to know each other all over again, this time as equals. However, they couldn't help remembering ghosts of the past while in each other's presence.
One such ghost crept up on Iphicles one day. He was showing Joxer around the palace and they had come to the ballroom where Iphicles entertained visiting dignitaries. Joxer had stared wide- eyed in amazement at the glamour, but it was the far corner that had attracted his attention. He walked over to the raised platform where musicians would play for their audience and picked up a lute that had been left there. As he plucked the strings, Iphicles remembered one of the many conversations they had had so many years ago.
* * *
"Come on, Jox. I know there's something you're good at. You just have to keep looking."
"Let's just not talk about it, ok?"
"Why not?" A pause. "You know your talent, don't you?"
"I'm not supposed to talk about it, ok?"
"Jox, you know you can tell me anything."
"I can play instruments ok. The lute and the lyre, but Dad doesn't like it."
"So you're not allowed."
"Exactly. It upset Mom at first, but she didn't have much choice in things."
"Well, I'll tell you what. Some day, I'll save up some money and buy you your own lute and you can entertain me and my troops as much as you like."
"You don't have to do that. They wouldn't want to hear me anyway."
"They will, Joxer. I just know it. And I'll do it. I give you my word."
* * *
"One of the musicians left it here after their performance last week."
Joxer looked up from the instrument, not having quite heard what was said to him. "What?"
"The lute. It was left here last week. The musician should be back soon to reclaim it."
"Hmm." Joxer idly ran his fingers up and down the strings.
"Why don't you play something?"
"What? No. I couldn't."
"Go ahead. There's no one here but me and you."
Joxer bit his bottom lip and looked at the instrument. He plucked one of the strings and heard the sound reverberate throughout the room. It was definitely a good quality instrument, and the room had excellent acoustics. He took a deep breath and plucked a short, swift rhythm. When he finished, he looked up into the smiling face of the King of Corinth.
"That was beautiful, Joxer."
"No it wasn't. It's just some silly little song."
"Joxer." Joxer's eyes met Iphicles'. "It was nice."
Joxer nodded. He set the lute back on the platform and headed for the door to the ballroom. "I think you've pretty much shown me the entire palace. Well, all except for the dungeons." He laughed to himself.
"Trust me, Jox, you don't want to go down there."
"Don't worry. I don't plan on it."
After dinner, Iphicles decided to take a couple of bottles of wine with him and Joxer when they headed up to his personal suites. They sat on elegantly crafted wooden chairs in front of a crackling fire and talked and laughed as they poured glass after glass of the warm red liquid. After they finished the first bottles, Iphicles sent for more. It wasn't long before they were both somewhat drunk.
"...so I tell him, I'm the King of Corinth and I'll bloody well do what I want!"
"Damn heroes. Always sticking their noses in your business. I guess it's even worse when one's your brother. Thank the Gods Jett and Jace will never qualify."
Both men giggled.
"Well, it's only been the last while that we've kept in touch. I think all those years I stayed away are probably the reason we haven't tried to kill each other. We're ok now."
"Yeah, Herc's ok, but he could stand to loosen up every now and then."
"Well if you asked him, he'd probably say I was too loose already." Joxer giggled. "What?"
"Nothin. I just really missed you, Iph."
"Oh yeah? I missed you too." Iphicles took another swig of wine then swung his head to look at Joxer. "How much did you miss me?"
"A lot. I even write you letters sometimes."
"What? I never got any letters."
"I never sent ‘em." Iphicles looked back to his wine. "It was just my way of remembering, y'know?"
"Yeah. Sometimes I wish I'd spent less time trying to forget."
"Why would you want to forget me?" Through his alcoholic haze, Joxer seemed close to tears.
"I didn't want to forget you, just what happened to you. I didn't like it. I didn't like doin nothin about it."
"There was nothin you could have done, Iph. That's the way it was."
"It didn't have to be, though." This time it was Iphicles' eyes that teared up, and soon his body was shaking with sobs. "I should have done somethin."
Joxer got up from his seat and knelt in front of Iphicles' chair. He laid his hands on the man's knees and looked up into his face. "You were young. He would only have hurt you too."
"I was, I am strong. I could have taken it."
Joxer shook his head. "You're strong, but it takes more than just strength."
Joxer raised a hand and wiped away Iphicles' tears. Iphicles watched as Joxer's eyes seemed to memorize every detail of his face.
"Joxer, there are some things I never even tried to forget." Iphicles took the hand that had wiped his tears in his hand and brought it to his lips, placing a kiss in the palm. That one simple gesture lit a fire in Joxer's eyes that burned to his very core. Somehow, Iphicles knew the same had happened to him.
Joxer cupped Iphicles' face with that hand and pulled it to his. Their lips met, softly pressing against each other. Sparks shot from their lips to every part of their bodies. They opened their mouths to each other as Joxer's other hand snaked around Iphicles' neck. Within moments, the soft kiss had turned incendiary. Joxer broke the kiss, struggling for breath.
"I-I don't remember it being like this."
Iphicles too gasped for breath. "Me neither. It's different."
"Yeah, a good different."
"An amazing different."
Their lips met again and Joxer's hand slid down Iphicles' neck to the shirt he wore. The often clumsy fingers were surprisingly nimble as they undid the fastenings in record time. Before he knew it, Iphicles was lost in the feel of Joxer's hands all over his chest, stroking a muscle here and teasing a nipple there. Joxer's lips moved from his lips down his neck, licking and nipping at the tender flesh. Those lips soon met up with the fingers that were flicking one nipple, taking their place.
As Joxer's tongue reacquainted itself with the taste that was Iphicles, Joxer's hands strayed down to Iphicles' pants and undid the laces. Iphicles unconsciously lifted his ass so that Joxer could pull his pants down and off his legs. Joxer's hands returned to Iphicles' aching nipples as his mouth kissed lower, down Iphicles' abdomen and down to where Iphicles' cock stood, waiting.
Joxer first placed a light, lingering kiss on the tip, then kissed up and down the shaft. Every now and again, his tongue would flick out, teasing the straining muscle.
"Oh Gods, Joxer, please."
Joxer couldn't have asked for a better invitation. He wrapped his lips around the head of Iphicles' cock, running his tongue along the slit. His lips moved lower, his mouth taking in more of the heated flesh. Iphicles' moans encouraged him, urging him to move his lips a little faster up and down the cock. He brought a hand down from Iphicles' chest to fondle the man's balls.
Iphicles felt himself close to the edge, but he didn't want to come yet. He reached down, gripped Joxer's shoulders, and pulled him up to face him. "Where in Tartarus did you get so good?"
"I had a good teacher and even better inspiration."
Their lips met again, and Iphicles lifted himself out of his seat without breaking the kiss. He lowered Joxer onto the floor and impatiently ripped his clothes off his skin, needing the feel of naked flesh against naked flesh. Once Joxer was as nude as he, Iphicles took a moment to look over the pale flesh he remembered. The scars were no longer as fresh and rough as he'd remembered them. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that he was looking for them, he probably would have missed most of them.
Iphicles latched his mouth onto Joxer's neck as Joxer ran his hands along Iphicles' back. Iphicles ran one hand along Joxer's chest, and the other down to gently squeeze the cock that had matured some since he'd last felt it. Heat emanated from Joxer's skin and he was already moaning and restless with need.
"Jox, I need you so much." He reluctantly let go of Joxer's neck and met his eyes. "I want to make love to you."
"I've waited so long to hear you say that, Iph." Once again, Joxer's eyes showed the same trust as they had before, however they also burned stronger than they ever had.
Somehow, a coherent thought made its way to Iphicles' mind. "Jox, let's move over to the bedroom. There's some oil in there." Joxer nodded and Iphicles stood up, pulling Joxer up with him. Iphicles pulled Joxer along to the bedroom and swung him onto the bed. He made his way to one dresser and pulled out a vial of oil, bringing it with him to the bed.
Joxer reached out a hand which Iphicles took and pulled him down next to him. Their lips met again, kissing for what seemed like an eternity, before Joxer felt a wet presence at his behind. He gasped as Iphicles finger pressed into the tight hole. Iphicles gave Joxer a moment to adjust before moving the finger, stretching the passage. Once Joxer was looser, he entered another finger, filling Joxer even more. He wiggled the fingers around until he finally found Joxer's sweet spot, making the man arch below him. Soon Joxer was rocking back against the fingers, needing to feel Iphicles inside him.
"Iph, now, please."
Iphicles took some of the oil and coated his rock-hard cock, then positioned it at Joxer's entrance. Looking into Joxer's eyes, Iphicles pushed his cock past the tight ring of muscles and into the pulsing heat within. Once Joxer relaxed a little, Iphicles began a slow rhythm pushing in and out of the tight hole. Joxer wrapped his legs around Iphicles' waist, urging him on.
"I want you to fuck me, Iph."
Iphicles' controlled thrusts soon turned frenzied. He grabbed Joxer's cock in his hand, stroking it in time to his thrusts until they were both panting and straining for release. Iphicles knew he was close and let go of Joxer's cock, grabbing onto his hips with both hands and pounding into him, hitting his sweet spot with almost every thrust. Without warning, Joxer's orgasm hit him and he exploded, sending streams of white cum across Iph's chest. His ass tightened around Iphicles' cock and soon Iph followed him, coming in hot spurts inside Joxer.
Iphicles collapsed bonelessly over his new lover's body. Both men panted, trying to fill their lungs with air that had abandoned them in their passion. Joxer tilted his head so that their lips could meet in a sweet, gentle kiss.
Iphicles finally found the energy to move and laid down on his back. Joxer rolled onto his side and flung an arm over Iphicles' chest. Iphicles couldn't help but smile in contentment. As it had been so long ago, Joxer was once again lying at his side.
This time, however, he had no intention of ever letting him go.
* * *
The main guard at the door to the Corinthian palace fought back yet another yawn. He'd watched the sun rise over the horizon, telling himself he only had another hour left at his post before he could sleep. Now that time was cut in half and he was that much closer to sleep's oblivion.
As his eyes fluttered, trying to encourage him to fall asleep, he was woken by shouting.
"Open the doors. I have to speak to the King immediately."
The guard recognized the visitor and opened the door immediately, moving to escort the man inside. He told the other guards to keep watch while they were inside.
The guard had to rush to keep up with the man. The palace servants tried to stop them but aborted their attempts when they saw the urgency in the man's eyes. One of the servants led them to the King's bedroom, opening it for the man.
And they all froze in shock.
Neither the King, nor his lover, had been wakened by the commotion. The servant took a deep breath and walked toward the bed to wake the King as the guard desperately tried to look away. The other man simply looked on in shock, unable to look away from the scene before him.
"Your Highness, please wake up. There is an urgent matter that requires your presence."
The King's eyes fluttered open. "What is it? Can't you see I'm trying to sleep?" Iphicles made no move to cover him or Joxer, knowing that his servants were known for their discretion.
"Your Highness, I'm afraid this cannot wait. Someone is here to see you."
The servant looked toward the door and Iphicles' eyes followed until they rested on the two men. His jaw dropped and he immediately moved to grab a sheet to cover himself and Joxer, jostling his lover in the process.
"Iph? Is everything ok?" Joxer mumbled, half asleep.
Joxer's eyes snapped open looking hurt. "Oh, so that's how it is. And by the way, it's Joxer, since you so obviously forgot..."
Iphicles reached down to cup Joxer's face and motioned toward the door with his head. "No, Jox. Over there."
Joxer looked over at the gaping hunter and instinctively pulled the sheet tighter around himself. "Umm, oh, hi Iolaus."
Iphicles took a steadying breath and tried to pretend nothing was out of the ordinary. "What is the problem, Iolaus?"
After a few moments, Iolaus regained the power of speech. "Umm, Herc sent me. That warlord we're after, he's massed up this large army and its headed straight for Corinth. He thinks you should have your army at ready in case we can't, umm, stop him in time."
Iphicles nodded. "All right. Tabor." The guard beside Iolaus stood at attention, yet refused to turn around. "Take Iolaus to see the Captain of the Guards. Explain the situation to him, then have him escort Iolaus to the main camp. Once you're done, go get some rest. I know your shift is just about over. Tetrus," the servant nodded, "gather my advisors in the War Room and tell them I will be there soon. Now, if everyone will excuse me, I would like to get dressed."
Everyone managed to look away and make their way out of the King's bedroom. Iphicles looked to his side to see Joxer smiling up at him. "What?"
"I've never seen this side of you, Iph."
"The take-charge King of Corinth. I like it."
"Oh, do you?" Iphicles braced himself on one arm as he leaned over Joxer, placing his other hand on the bed on Joxer's other side. "Then I suppose you don't mind taking orders from your King, do you my warrior."
"My sword is always at your service." Joxer wrapped his arms around Iphicles' neck.
Iphicles leaned closer to Joxer, his breath brushing against the other man's skin. Just as their lips were about to meet, they were interrupted by a knock at the door.
"Sire, your advisors are waiting for you."
Iphicles let out a groan as he moved off Joxer and swung his legs off the bed. "I'll be there momentarily!" He got up and moved to choose some clothes to wear from the selection in his closet.
"Iph, is there anything I can do?"
Iphicles paused mid-choice and looked back at Joxer. "You can help, Jox. Why don't you get dressed."
Joxer got up and made his way into the next room, gathering his discarded clothes from the night before. He brought them into the bedroom and started putting them on when Iphicles interrupted him.
"Jox, why don't you try this on."
Joxer caught the navy shirt that had been thrown at him. It was much nicer than the multi- coloured shirt he usually wore under his armour. Smiling, he pulled it over his head. He slipped on his loincloth and pants, then watched as Iphicles finished getting dressed. "So, you want me to fight in your army? Or did you want me to go on some kind of special mission?"
"Actually, Jox, I had something else in mind for you. If this gets as rough as I fear it might, I want you here at my side."
"So, you don't want me to fight for you?"
"No." Iphicles walked over to him and placed his hands on Joxer's shoulders. "I don't want to risk losing you. I need you now more than ever, but as a friend, someone who can keep me sane."
Joxer inhaled and nodded. He was a little disappointed, but he would do anything he could for Iphicles. Iphicles kissed him gently on the lips, then led the way out of the bedroom.
Before they reached the door, Joxer stopped Iphicles with a hand on his shoulder. "Iph, I'm, uh, sorry about before, when you said Iolaus. I-it's just that..."
Iphicles looked into the man's deep brown eyes. "I understand. You just need to remember that I care about you, and I'm the last person in the world who would hurt you."
Joxer nodded. "I know. I just get so scared sometimes, and when I'm scared I guess I get a little jealous."
"There's no reason for you to be jealous. You're the only one in my life right now." Iphicles wrapped his arms around Joxer, resting the man's head against his shoulder. After all this time, Joxer was still haunted by his insecurities. The King hoped they could get over them together.