By Jen

Golgoth.  The very name's enough to breathe fear into any right-thinking person.  Or god.  I'm the God of *Love*, for Zeus' sake.  I should never have to even think about a place like that, let alone go anywhere near it.  But after some research, I've found out that that's where he is.  My quarry. Iphicles.  The Sovereign's other half-brother.

I don't want to go there, but I've dreamed so longingly of finding my Iphicles, of us becoming lovers, that I screw myself up to it, and I do it. I wander unseen through the grim prison carved into solid rock, through the dark and the stench, the death and despair.  I remain hidden; I'm not welcome here.  Love is the furthest thing from the minds of those condemned to a living death.

Finally, deep in the maze of disgusting cells, I find him.  I stare for a moment.  He's clean-shaven, and obviously fed better than the others.  He's in chains, like all the prisoners here, but his body isn't wasted away, which means he must get some exercise as well.  Strange.  He doesn't move from where he's sitting on the floor in the corner of the cell, but as I make myself visible his head raises and he looks at me.

I momentarily stop breathing as I see him again.  He's so beautiful, despite the sullenness of his face.  I look at his full lips and remember the other Iphicles wrapping them around the other Ares' cock and have to fight the wave of desire that threatens to submerge me.

"Iphicles," I say instead.

"Ares."  He knows who I am then.  But there's no surprise in his voice.

"Come with me," I tell him.  "I'm here to take you away."

His eyes close momentarily, then he gets to his feet.  He says nothing.  Even when I free him from his chains and take him to my chambers, he says nothing.  I show him the results of my careful preparations; the set of new clothes laid out ready for him in place of the filthy rags he wears, and the steaming bath laced gently with sandalwood oil to relax and refresh him. The soft woody scent is my favourite, and I'm sure it'll be his.  His shoulders slump slightly as he sees all this, but he does as I bid him. He does it all in that sullen morose silence.  I had intended to bathe him, to tenderly sponge each part of his body, gently cleansing every last trace of that awful place from him while the heady scent of sandalwood filled the air around us; a careful loving preparation for what will follow.  His silence defeats me.  I leave him, but I watch from elsewhere.

He strips off in a workmanlike fashion and gets into the bath.  I'm taken by surprise by how white his skin is.  I was expecting the golden skin of the other Iphicles, but this one hasn't seen sunlight in. years, probably.  He's too thin as well, and his hair's lank and dirty.  I watch him sponge himself.  He does it all with a resigned economy of movement.  I don't understand why he takes no pleasure in cleaning the dirt of that place from him, why there's no relaxing into the luxury of the hot bath.  As soon as his body is clean he washes his hair, then gets out of the bath and dresses himself.  He looks at the clothes before putting them on, but there's no visible pleasure in the experience of clean new clothes.  I'm beginning to feel a slight stirring of uneasiness. This isn't going as I'd expected.

I check myself again in the mirror, tease my dark hair into order, make sure the leather's snug with no wrinkles to mar the impression I want to make, and then go to him.  My breath catches as I come face to face with him; wearing the clothes that I've provided, he's indistinguishable from his double.  I've given him the same clothes I saw the other Iphicles wearing - a loose white shirt tucked into black leather pants and serviceable black boots which on him really do something to me.  His curling copper hair brushes his shoulders, drying quickly in the warmth of the early evening.

He's waiting for me to say something, but I'm too busy looking at him.

At length he speaks.  "What now?" he asks, tiredly.

I sit down on my favourite divan, invitingly patting the red velvet seat beside me.  He obediently sits where I've indicated.  I start to tell him about the other world and its relationship to ours.  I keep getting distracted in the telling of it by how near he is to me, the faint suggestion of sandalwood still clinging to him, sending images racing through my mind of me massaging lightly-scented oil into him, my hands slowly working over every part of his body.  I shift slightly in my seat to ease my growing erection.  This is what I've dreamed of, us sitting close together, talking, before hands start to wander and we're locked together in a passionate embrace, going on to love one another all night long.  Except, when my hand falls on his thigh to punctuate what I'm saying, there's no response from him, no quiver of delight at my touch, no barely suppressed shiver of desire.  I leave my hand there and keep talking.  I tell him that I've seen his counterpart and that I then realised that *he* must be alive.  My hand gently strokes the soft leather over his thigh to emphasise my point as I tell him that the other Ares and Iphicles love one another, and that I knew I had to find him and free him so that we could become lovers.

There's no response.  He says nothing, and for all the effect my touch is having I might as well have left the leather on the cow and stroked that.  I remove my hand, feeling awkward and confused.  I look at his face and I suddenly see that there's one big difference between that Iphicles and this one: his eyes are dead.  It's not sullenness in his face; it's the expression of a man who knows only punishment, who expects only punishment, and has given up asking why.

"You're free, Iphicles," the words spill from me.

His eyes, still lifeless, just look at me.  He's waiting for the punch-line.  I look at him and frown.  How long has he been kept there?  Why has he been fed and shaved?

I ask him; he tells me.  He'll do whatever I want him to, even if he doesn't understand why.  He tells me that the Sovereign sometimes likes to remember his family.  That sometimes he's taken to the castle for a spontaneous family reunion.  Sometimes the Sovereign gets tearful and hugs him and tells him how much he loves him.  And sometimes the Sovereign screams at him for betraying him and beats him within an inch of his life before laying his brother's head on the block and releasing the Executioner.  So far he's always changed his mind before the blade finally falls.

I'm lost.  There's no emotion from him, no feeling.  And worst of all, no trust.  I know that there's a whole ocean of things he's not telling me. He' s just giving me the minimum information to answer my questions. How can we be the lovers that we're destined to be if he won't trust me?

In the end it's late, so I tell him to sleep.  I tell him to use my bed, and pretend to leave.  Instead, I spent the night watching him.  He sleeps naked.  He tosses and turns in the silk sheets at first, until he gets used to the feel of the huge water-filled mattress beneath him.  I still marvel at my brilliance in coming up with that idea.  Who else would have thought of it, let alone found people with the skills to turn whale-gut into the most delicious sleeping experience I've ever known?  Eventually he quietens, and sleeps the motionless sleep of the truly exhausted.  Or the dead.

I shiver.  I don't know where that thought came from.


I join him for breakfast.  I've caused the table to be laden with foods to please him.  Hot bread, new honey, fresh cheese, quails' eggs, and fruit. The fruit-bowl is laden with ripe luscious fruit; strawberries, cherries, oranges, and, best of all, peaches.  Ripe smooth peaches.  Of the many dreams I've had of me and Iphicles together, there's one which comes back to me, again and again.  I dream of skinning a peach for him, peeling the skin from it with such love and tender care that its skin remains intact and falls off in one piece to reveal the fruit beneath, and then cutting the fruit and feeding him its ripe flesh.

He's torn some bread from the loaf and is eating it when I make myself visible to him.  I immediately see the change in him when he looks at me. There's an intelligence in his eyes instead of last night's deadness.  I suppose that, even if he doesn't want to, the change in his surroundings is forcing him to react to things.

"What does our brother want now?" he asks me before I've even sat down.

I'm taken by surprise by his directness.  Then I realise what it is he's asked.  How can he not know?  "The Sovereign's dead," I tell him.

"Ok, keep on with the mind-fucks," he dismisses, abruptly dropping the bread as though what appetite he had has now deserted him.

"He is," I insist.  "Ares, the God of War from the other world, killed him."

"How?  He's a demi-god.  He can't be killed."

"Hind's blood."  His abruptness is catching.  I recall myself and tell him the details.

"And the God of War who killed the Sovereign is the same God of War who's in love with the other world's Iphicles?"

So he had been listening last night after all.  "Yes."

He laughs suddenly.  It sounds wrong, as though he's unaccustomed to it.  "You're pathetic, Ares," he tosses at me.  "At least tell me something believable.  The Sovereign can't be killed.  Gods of War don't love."  His eyes flicker scathingly over me.  "You might as well tell me that the God of Love fights."

His contempt hurts.  I'm used to ridicule, but from *him* it really hurts.  My dreams are suddenly and cruelly exposed for what they are - pure fantasy. He isn't the other Iphicles.  In fact, I realise that I don't know the other Iphicles either.  I just got obsessed with the idea of having what he and the other Ares have got.  This one's the Sovereign's half-brother, after all; I suppose I should have expected a family resemblance.  For an instant, I think about casting a spell, making him love me for a while.  At least my physical desire for him would be satisfied.  But that's not what I want.  I look at the ugly sneer on his face and I sigh for my foolish dreams.

"There's enough money there to cover your immediate needs," I tell him abruptly, causing a purse of coins to appear on the table by his hand.  "If you tell me where you want to go to, I'll take you there and leave you to do whatever it is you want."  Which will probably be trampling other people's dreams unheeded into the dust.

The ugliness fades from his face and he stares at me, a mixture of suspicion and consternation.  "What's going on?" he asks at last.

"Call it a favour to my counterpart," I say.  Without me, this Iphicles would have rotted in Golgoth until he died, which would have been sooner rather than later.  At least by giving him a chance at life, this gives the other Ares longer with his Iphicles.

He still doesn't believe me, that's obvious.  But there's a part of him which allows the dawning of an incredulous hope.  He's trying to deny it, but I can see it beginning to take hold.

"So what's the catch?"  I admire his control, the weary cynical jeer in his voice even while hope begins to burn desperately in his eyes.

"No catch, Iphicles," I tell him.  I can't help myself, I walk around the table to him, lean forward and, lightly kissing his lips, I kiss my dreams goodbye.  He sits there, rigid.  "Good luck," I say softly.


Whatever he's going to say is lost under the sound of a familiar mocking laugh.  Cupid stalks forward, black wings rustling ominously.  How does he keep doing that - turning up without letting me hear him?  His hand connects with my chest and he shoves me backwards, out of his way so that he can hitch a hip on the corner of the table.  He sits there, one long bare leg swinging idly as he reaches across and picks up a peach from the bowl of fruit.  He tosses it in his hand, looking at Iphicles.  Iphicles sits frozen beneath his scrutiny.

"How may times, Ares, how many times?"  Cupid sighs exaggeratedly.  "He's a mortal, you're a god.  You don't need his permission to fuck him."

He shifts slightly on the table, and Iphicles' eyes are drawn to the way Cupid's leather kilt is riding up his strong thighs as he sits there.  He suspects what I know for sure - that Cupid wears nothing beneath it.  'The War God always has to be ready for action' is how he put it to me last time, just before he really put it to me.  Cupid's eyes flick mockingly to mine as he bites firmly into the peach.  Juice squeezes from it, running down his chin, dripping to his powerful chest.  I watch mesmerised as it clings to his flesh before oozing slowly down his stomach.

"Lick it off."

My head jerks up to meet his eyes, but it's Iphicles he's looking at.  Iphicles doesn't move.  My heart lurches.  Yesterday he'd have done whatever Cupid told him; he'd have expected nothing else.  But I gave him hope.  I let him think, if only for an instant, that things could be different.  This is my fault.

Cupid's wings are extending, his eyes beginning to burn.  "Lick it off me," he repeats menacingly.  *Do it*, I will Iphicles.

His chin comes up and he meets Cupid's gaze.  "No," he says.

There's a growl as Cupid lunges forward, the rush of dark wings, the flash of teeth and blood, and then they're gone.  I'm left staring mesmerised at the place where they were, the chair toppled on its side, and one black feather still whirling around in the disturbed air.

Maybe I got it wrong.  Maybe it's not Ares that Iphicles is supposed to be with, but the God of War.  Maybe it's his destiny to be Cupid's.  I watch silently as the black feather finally drifts to rest on the floor beside the remains of the peach, now no more than a mangled pulp.  Or maybe I've rescued him from one living Tartarus only to plunge him into another.

Part 2

I can't do it.  However much I know I should, I can't go after them.  I suddenly start to haunt Olympus, waiting for Cupid to show, waiting for a chance to talk to him in the relative safety of company.  He doesn't.  Almost a full day passes, and he still doesn't show.  I ask around idly.  No one knows anything, other than that they're pleased at his absence.  I'm left with no alternative.  I ask around, one last time, desperate.  Has anyone got any messages they want taking to Cupid?  Even that fails.  So I have to go and find him with no excuse for being there.

I hate the Halls of War.  Dark and oppressive, the only decorations are deadly-looking weapons, their purpose to maim and kill.  Every dark wall has its own arsenal.  All this, and not one mirror anywhere in sight.  No colour scheme either - it's all basic black.  Sometimes, when I feel I really need a challenge, I work out possible colour combinations for it in case Cupid ever wants to redecorate. The skill likes in working out a scheme which won't allow the gigantic black marble table to dominate in the way it does now.  It's positioned in the centre of the floor, and it's Cupid's pride and joy. I've seen him preside at celebratory feasts around that table.  I've seen him fuck on that table.  I've seen him kill on that table.  I'd half-expected to find Iphicles - or what's left of him - staked out on it.  Despite myself, my hand reaches out to touch it.  Its cold surface seems to burn.  I snatch my hand away and turn quickly as I'm aware of his presence behind me.

"Ares."  Oh no, he's smiling.  Not a good sign, not a good sign at all.  "Something I can do for you?"

There's no point in lying.  He can always tell when I do.

"Iphicles," I start.  "The man you left with from my chambers."  Careful now, don't use emotive words like 'kidnapped' or 'stole'.  "Where is he now?"

His smile grows.  "In my bed, of course."

Of course?  No 'of course' about it.  I've never known him to use a bed for anything other than sleeping before.

"Oh."  And Iphicles is still alive.  I don't know whether to be relieved or not.  When Cupid's had his fun, he usually kills any mortal unlucky enough to have had his attention  Well, to be honest, that's usually *part* of the fun for Cupid.  But if Iphicles is still here, Olympus only knows what state he's in.

Cupid's predatory smile wouldn't disgrace a hungry sandshark.  "Anything else I can do for you, Ares?" he offers.

Gods can't be killed.  Gods can't be killed.  I keep telling myself that. "I. um, I want him back."

I stand waiting for the storm to break.  Nothing.  Confused, I open my eyes.  And shiver at the look on the War God's face.

"Why do you think I'm interested in what the Love God wants?"  In his mouth, my calling is a curse.

"Because there are things I can do for you in return.  Love is often a good way to start wars, jealousy between rulers, over some wife, or daughter or lover or something."  I'm babbling.  I've also just betrayed my calling.  I stop, feeling sick.

He's laughing derisively as he stalks around me.  "You think *I* need *your* help?"

Before I can react, he's slamming me back against the wall and tearing my clothes off.  He likes doing it this way - it's more satisfying than thinking them away.  Then I'm pushed face-first against the wall and he's thrusting into me.  It hurts.  He likes that; my pain really gets him going. It always does.  And as he gets more excited, as he thrusts harder into me, panting obscenities into my ear, teeth sinking into my shoulder, my neck, my cock starts to respond, just like it always does.  I hate this, I hate the fact that the God of Love likes to be taken by the God of War.  The very thought gets me even harder and I take my cock in my hand and start to work it, groaning at the twin sensations as my hand closes around myself and his size fills me, pushes in and out of me.  Without warning he pulls out completely, spins me round and slams me down on the table so that I'm bent face-first over it, my ass open and inviting for him.  He's thrusting into me again, grunting as he does so.  Each thrust pushes me hard against the
table, the resistance means he's getting deeper and deeper into me until I come helplessly, wet seed spilling everywhere as I cry out my release  He slams into me a few more times then pulls out and turns me onto my back, yanking my legs open to stand between them.  I reach out blindly for his enormous cock and work it, once, twice, until he's coming in my hands, hips still thrusting as he spurts and his seed lands on me, stringing over my chest, my face, in my hair.

He breathes deeply, wings fully extended as he stares down at me, eyes moving hungrily over me.  "You're beautiful," he tells me.  "My cum all over you - that's how you should always be."

Uh oh.  It's always a bad sign when he gets romantic.

He suddenly takes advantage of the fact that he's between my legs and pulls them up over his shoulders, shoving his instantly recovered cock back inside me again.  He pushes, holding my legs in place, looking down at me as he thrusts. This time I don't even need to touch my cock - he's hitting that spot inside me again and again, mercilessly, his eyes on mine with more than a hint of madness as he makes me come again and again, until I'm covered with my seed and I'm begging him to stop.  As soon as I've finished coming, my cock is hard and I'm coming again.  I roll my head, trying to escape his eyes on mine, trying to escape the amazing feeling of his big hard cock burying itself deeper and deeper in my ass.  As I look away from him he reaches his hand and his nails rip into my chest around my nipple, drawing blood.  My head jerks back to look at him and I come again.  He smiles, and reaches to do the same thing with my other nipple.  I come again.  And again and again, helpless, screaming his name, screaming for him to stop, to carry on.  That's when he finally stops - when I ask him to continue.  He pulls out of me, letting my legs down - quite gently, for him - takes his cock in his hand and his hot seed again spatters onto my face.

He turns away.  "If you want him, you can have him," he says.

I like there for a minute, still panting, almost trembling.  I can't believe what he's just said.

"Cupid." I start.

"I wasn't talking to you, Love God," he snaps out, turning on me.  "I was talking to *him*."

And as I look past him, I see Iphicles standing there, silently watching.

Iphicles turns away from me.  "No," he says.

When is he going to learn not to say that to Cupid?  He's going to get himself killed.  I sit up slowly, and as Cupid goes for Iphicles, I catch a glimpse of the man's face.  Zeus, but that's what he wants.  I stay on the table, cleaned and dressed again, my legs drawn up and my arms hugging them to me, making myself as small a target as possible while Cupid slams Iphicles around the room.  Finally Cupid tires of the foreplay and savagely mounts him.  Iphicles is crying out in pain at what Cupid's doing to him, but he's still resisting him.  He really doesn't want to live.  That's why he said no to Cupid.  It wasn't that he didn't want me.  It wasn't.

Eventually Cupid gets bored.  He shoots a look at me.  "I'll leave you to lick his wounds," he tells me, then disappears.  I get off the table and go to Iphicles' bleeding figure, crumpled on the floor.  He's dazed, but still aware enough to pull away from me when I touch him.

"It's me, Ares," I reassure him.  "I'm here to get you away from him."

"Why?  Whose turn is it next?"  His voice is blurred, but the savage anger is unmistakable.  It stops me dead as I'm reaching for him again.  "Or are you gonna bullshit about love and pretend to free me again first?"  He draws a painful breath then looks me in the eye.  "Fuck you Ares," he snarls.

I'm reeling at his words, but it's the hate blasting from his pain-filled eyes that sends me away.  I can't bear it.  I've dreamed of his eyes looking at me as though I'm his reason for living.  They now tell me clearer than words that it's because of me that he'll welcome death.


I go back again later.  The decision took me hours of pacing my favourite temple, and rearranging the décor over and over, until I'm finally satisfied with the new look.  Hearts and flowers are so passé.  I've gone for a more sophisticated theme - rich red carpeting, its very softness making it a sensuous experience to walk on, divans covered in dark red leather dotted around, all with white silk-covered scatter cushions.  And just to complete the ensemble, I add a subtle dark red piping to my white leather vest and pants.  Now that's what I call accessorising.  I look around in satisfaction.  The familiar activity has steadied me.  I know what I have to do.  It doesn't matter any more what he thinks of me.  It doesn't matter what Cupid does to me.  All that matters is that I try to put right the damage I've done.

I find Cupid fucking him.  Of course.  The god's insatiable.  Sometimes I think the other world makes more sense, where Cupid is God of Love.  But then this Cupid doesn't know love - he only knows sex.

He looks up as I appear, and a slow smile twists his lips as he carries on fucking Iphicles in the middle of the table.

"Come to play again?" he jibes, never even pausing in his thrusts.

"I've come to take Iphicles away from you," I tell him.

He stops then, motionless inside Iphicles, staring at me in disbelief. "*You*?  Mr 'I'm a lover not a fighter' pansy Love God?"

"Yes."  I meet his gaze unflinchingly and his wings suddenly extend and he comes.

He pulls out of Iphicles, cock still dripping, and jumps down from the table to stand in front of me, leaving Iphicles motionless, face down.  I wonder if he's dead.  I wouldn't put it past Cupid to fuck a corpse.  In fact I wouldn't put *anything* past Cupid - which makes me wonder again what I'm doing here, confronting him like this.

A cruel smile is lighting his eyes.  "You want to reclaim your toy do you, Love God?"

"No."  I don't expect Cupid to understand, but I have to explain so that if - when - he kills me, at least someone knows.  I know gods can't be killed, but I know that Cupid's going to manage it somehow.  "He's not my toy," I tell him.  "He isn't anyone's toy.  Let him go."

His wings rustle angrily as they stretch and move in preparation, his eyes violent on mine.  "You know what I can do to you, don't you Ares?  Love God.  Rose-petal scatterer."

How can he make beautiful words sound so ugly?  I stand my ground.  Probably because my knees are shaking too hard for me to step backwards, but I meet his gaze.

"Iphicles isn't yours," I tell him.

I don't recognise the expression on his face.  I've never seen it before.  He steps forward sharply.  I try not to flinch as he prowls around me.  He returns at last to stand in front of me, hot breath on my face.  I refuse to look away from him.

"So what you have you done with the real Ares?" he says at last.

His mockery stings.  "I *am* the real Ares, Cupid," I tell him.  "And I'm telling you to let him go."

I hold his eyes as he stares at me, his wings folding and unfolding restlessly, until suddenly one corner of his mouth twists and he shrugs.  "Take him."

I try not to gape.  I try not to query his agreement.  "Good," I say calmly.

I turn away from him and walk round him to get to the table, all the time waiting for the hind's blood dagger between my shoulder blades.

"Oh, Ares?"

Here it comes.  I try not to tense too visibly as I turn back to him.  There's that expression on his face again.

"When you've ditched the mortal, come back and play," he tells me.  Then he disappears.

I don't know what sick game he's playing this time, but I have to take him at his word.  It's Iphicles' only chance.  I'm trembling with reaction as I climb onto the table and reach out to his still figure.  At least he's still alive.  Without delay I take us to my chambers.

"Iphicles."  I don't know if he's even conscious.

There's a pause, then he turns over onto his back on the silk counterpane and looks up at me, his face expressionless.

"You're free," I tell him.  "Tell me where you want to go to, and I'll take you there so you can start a new life."  As I see the look in his eyes I realise why the words come so easily - it's not the first time I've spoken them.  "I promise," I add.

I take in the fact that he's naked, and covered with dried blood and semen. I can't see any deep wounds or old bruising though; Cupid must have healed him each time he'd finished playing, so he could start again.  Healed the physical wounds, anyway.

"You can clean up first if you want to," I tell him.  "I'll get you some more clothes.  And food and money, and anything else you might need."

He silently acquiesces.  I produce a sandalwood-scented bath for him, complete with a screen around it, even though it goes against all nature to hide that beauty.  Then I produce some clothes for him.  His own, this time, not a copy of the other Iphicles' clothing.  I don't know what he likes to wear, but you can't go too far wrong with soft hide pants and a linen shirt.

I don't look in on him this time.  I'm sitting at the laden table when he emerges, the ends of his wet hair soaking his dark shirt, causing it to cling damply to his body.  I tear my eyes away with difficulty.

"What would you like to eat?" I ask.

"I want to leave."

I'm devastated.  I didn't really believe he'd go.

"Iphicles," I start.  The look in his face stops me.  The expression that tells me that this is what he's been waiting for, that he doesn't believe I'll honour my word to him.  He's waiting for me to demand payback from him, take it, and then reveal this to be another trick.  And as I see that cynical resignation in him, I swallow my words.  What I want from him, he can't give.

I slowly stand up.  "Ok," I say calmly.  I can't believe that this is really happening.  "Where d'you want to go to?"


I blink.  It's an odd choice, but no doubt he has his reasons.

I pass him a purse.  He hesitates briefly, then accepts it.

I take him to Phlegra.  He says nothing, just turns away and leaves me.  I watch him go, watch that familiar longed-for figure walk steadily away from me until he's lost in the crowd in the market place.

Part 3

I look in on him occasionally.  He's safe, at least.  He's got himself work as a groom in King Joxer's service.  That surprises me.  I didn't know he was good with horses.  Just another of the many things I didn't know about him, I guess.  Whether he's happy though.  Every time I think that, I tell myself that he has to be happier than he was in Golgoth.

I tried to avoid Cupid after that last little scene with him, till one day he turned up in my temple and took me.  Hard and fast, bruisingly painful.  As he thrust hard into me, he started to pant out that he was going after Iphicles next and what he'd do to the man, the creative ways he had in mind to kill him.  That's when, for the first time ever, I pitted my strength against his.  He ended up pinned down beneath me, growling obscene threats up at me as I fucked him.

I collapsed forward onto him afterwards.  "I love you, Cupid," I said, before I could stop myself.

"I know," he said.  For the briefest instant his eyes were clear as he looked back at me.  Then he left.  Every now and then he shows up.  We fuck. He leaves again.

It's six months later and I still miss Iphicles.  I miss my dreams about him, but I miss his reality as well.  I miss the opportunity to find out about him, all those things I don't know, and now never will.  I can't bear the scent of sandalwood now, nor peaches.  I miss him.  I miss him so much that when I hear someone calling my name, I can almost believe that it's his voice.  It calls me again.  I sigh, and answer.  Somehow I've lost the heart for what I do these days.

I freeze when I get to my favourite temple.  It's him.  Standing in the middle of the floor, calling to me.  He looks. different.  Taller, somehow - is that it?  He's wearing the pants and boots I gave him, but with a different shirt, thinner for the summer heat.  It's white, showing off the beautiful rich gold colour of his skin, the unnatural pallor completely disappeared.  I can't control the surge of excitement that runs through me, a surge which finds new life when it gets to my cock.

"Ares."  He slowly kneels before me.

I find my voice, sort of.  "Don't kneel, Iphicles."

Thankfully the temple's empty.  Good - the last thing I need is for my credibility to go out the window just because I suddenly can't control my voice.  He looks up at my face, then his eyes drop to what's at eye level.  My cock jerks against my pants as I see the direction of his gaze.  He reaches out and slides his hand around my ass, gently pulling me closer to him, before he starts to unfasten my pants.


His hand slips inside my pants and I groan as he touches my cock, his fingers moving over the hot flesh while his other hand finishes unfastening my pants to free me completely.  I moan again in exquisite anticipation as I watch him guide my cock towards his mouth, his full lips opening for me, and then I'm crying out as his wet mouth wraps warmly around me.  His tongue moves against me, he's pushing his head down on me, taking me into his depth and heat and moisture.  This is too much.  This is everything I've dreamed of and more.  My hands tangle in his hair and I stop the movements of his head, stop him and pull him off me, gently bringing his head back to look up at me.

"Why are you doing this?" I ask him.

His eyes are steady on mine.  "Don't you want me to?"

If I wasn't a god, I'd whimper.  But I am, so I merely repeat myself.  "Why?"

"I want to," he says simply, before returning his attention to my cock.  I slide into his warm mouth as though I was made for it, as though I belong to him.  Within seconds of that thought I'm coming, crying out his name as my seed spills into him.

We're silent for a moment afterwards.  As his mouth - reluctantly, surely - lets me go, I see the tears on his cheeks.  I kneel before him and reach out a hand, wiping them away.

"Iphicles," I say urgently, "What's wrong?"

He shakes his head in denial, but when I wrap my arms around him he leans into me and I can feel silent sobs racking his body.

When he's still again, I unwillingly let go of him.  There's an awkward silence.

"Anywhere you want to go to, I'll take you there," I tell him at last.  It's the only thing I can offer him that I know he'll accept.

He's silent for a moment.  When he speaks, his voice is tight.  "This is where I want to be."

I stare at him in shock.  I can't believe he said it.  I can't believe he means it.

"But you didn't before," I blurt out involuntarily.

His eyes close briefly, but not before I've seen the shadows in them.  "I needed time," he says.  Then he looks at me.  "And I needed to know about you.  Whether you meant it or were just playing."

"I mean it," I tell him.  I reach out and cup his cheek in my hand.  "I love you."

The shadows recede slightly.  He rests his face against my hand for an instant then turns his head and his lips brush my palm.  It goes straight to my groin, white-hot desire speeding through my body, my cock immediately swelling in response.  He can't help but notice - we're kneeling inches apart, my pants still open.  Very deliberately he turns his head further and takes one of my fingers in his mouth, his soft tongue slipping up and down it, wrapping longingly around it before he starts to suck.

"Iphicles."  There's that problem with my voice again.  I keep just enough awareness to close the temple before my other hand caresses the back of his head and I persuade his mouth from my fingers.  I lean forward and kiss him. My tongue pushes slowly between his lips and he meets it.  Our tongues touch, start to explore.  I taste my seed on him, and I taste him, sweet and heady, like sandalwood.  We kneel there, tongues stroking, my wet cock thrusting out of my pants towards him like he's its home.  Eventually my hands start to run down his chest, skimming his nipples through the thin shirt.  His sound of pleasure at my touch is the sweetest thing I've ever heard.  My fingers go back to circle his nipples, again and again, until his tongue is pushing into my mouth in a mute plea for more.  I run my fingers across the taut flesh, erect beneath his shirt, and he jolts in reaction.

His hands on my back have been slowly stroking the warm leather, feeling the outline of my muscles beneath it.  Now they're sliding lower, down to my ass, his touch light and loving as he explores every curve through the leather.  Impossibly, I grow harder at his touch.  One of his hands moves to my cock.  I grasp his wrist, lightly.

"Please," I ask him, "Let me, this time."  I want to give him everything I can - everything I am.  And I can't do it if he touches me.  His touch is too distracting even for the God of Love.

I gently lay him back on the soft red carpet of my temple.  I kneel beside him and look down at him.  Amber eyes return my gaze.  He's breathing fast, full lips slightly apart, the pink tip of his tongue moistening them slightly as his chest rises and falls swiftly.  His nipples are rigid against his shirt, and I can see that the friction of the material against them each time he breathes is exciting him still further.  I look further down, to where his cock is pushing against the leather of his pants.  I can't help it, I know I mustn't, not yet, but I can't stop myself.  I reach out and lightly trace it through the soft hide.  He moans and arches back, copper curls glinting in the sunlight through the high windows.

When he's in control again, I think myself naked.  His indrawn breath brings a smile to my lips.  I know from seeing the other Ares what a beautiful sight I am to him.  And the mirrors on each wall of the temple tell me the same thing.  Dark muscled beauty - perfection of body and face.  And my cock.  The only thing more beautiful than my cock is the thought of sliding it inside Iphicles.

I lean over him and kiss him again.  My tongue traces around his lips, my eyes closing as I trail around their fullness, again and again, before my tongue flicks teasingly into his mouth.  His head raises and his tongue seeks mine.  I let him try for a while, our tongues flicking and skimming one another, but not enough to satisfy him.  A sound of protest from him is too much for me, and my lips cover his again.  I explore his warm mouth, finding the sensitive spots and pressing lightly, loving to hear his groans of delight.  Eventually I withdraw from him again and kneel astride him, my hips above his.  I lean forward and my mouth trails down his neck, licking, tasting the sweetness of fresh sweat on his skin.  I pause to lick hotly around his ear, then my tongue slips in, probing.  He's gasping by the time I move lower.  I lick his nipples through the shirt, before taking one between my teeth and gently rolling it, flicking again and again with my tongue until the shirt is wet and so is my cock as he groans my name.  I sit back up and start to unfasten his shirt.  Slowly, so very slowly, despite his encouragement for me to go faster.  Two buttons are open and I pause; it 's enough for me to slide my hand across his warm chest and brush my nails against his other nipple.  He bucks up at the contact.  "Gods, Ares, *please*."

I smile down at him, at his desperation.  "Hush," I tell him, kissing him gently.  "I love you."

I carry on opening his shirt even while I kiss him, until it's open all the way down.  My hard cock starts moving against his warm skin where I'm leaning forward to kiss him.  I pull the shirt fully open to reveal his nipples and rub my cock against the hard nub on one side while my fingers gently play the other one.  My cock is leaving a trail of moisture, and I move down his body again and bend to lick it from him.  His fists are clenched, his arms rigid with the effort of not touching me.  I smile as I lick my lover where my cock has leaked on him.  I only stop smiling so that I can pleasure him more.  My mouth moves over his body as I remove his shirt, exploring, finding out what he likes, finding out what drives him wild beneath me.  By the time my tongue swirls around his navel, tracing downwards, he's trembling.  "Please Ares," he gets out again.

I decide to move it on.  He's too ready.  I could stop him coming if I wanted to, but I don't.  I want him to come with me.  I want to come with him.  I move off him, and pull off his boots, slowly, giving him time to calm again before the next stage.  Then I kneel beside him and my hands move to his belt, slowly undoing the buckle then pulling the leather.  It comes gradually, unwilling to leave him.  I understand that.  The pressure as I pull brings his hips up towards me, and my breath comes faster.  Finally he's free of the belt and I cast it to one side.  I pause for an instant, looking down at him; his copper hair spread so wantonly around him, his lips swollen and parted, his high cheekbones flushed with passion and his eyes.  They're almost black with desire, but still tell me everything I need to know.

My hands reach to the fastening of his pants, brushing his skin as I do so, and he whimpers in anticipation.  I begin to unfasten his pants, slowly, until his cock thrusts free.  I keep on with my task of undressing him, resolutely ignoring the way its wet tip is tantalisingly there, just inches from my mouth.  He arches his hips briefly to allow me to draw the pants off him completely, then I kneel astride him again, cock to quivering cock.

My eyes close as I feel his hardness moving so eagerly against mine. I don't know which of us whimpered that time.  I take control again.  I move my hand to his cock, one finger taking the drop of liquid from the tip and smoothing it over the head, my touch like silk on him.  As he moans and thrusts upwards, his cock pushes against mine.  I hold them close to one another and my hands start to stroke the entire length of cock against cock. As my hands move, he's arching back on the floor, crying my name, his hips thrusting to force our cocks even closer together until I can hardly tell which is his and which is mine any more, just hard hot flesh under my hands and the feel of cock against cock and hands sliding rhythmically up and down, bringing us closer, closer.

"I can't.. Ares."  He's practically sobbing.  I'm suddenly aware again.

"It's alright," I comfort him, slowing the rhythm before stopping.  He can't hold on much longer, I can see that.  I move to kneel between his legs, raising his hips briefly to think one of the silk cushions underneath them so that I've got full access.  There's so much I want to do, so many ways I want to pleasure him.  I haven't even started.  But he's so ready for me.  I produce a flask of oil, unstop it, and slowly pour some of the liquid over him.  His cock jerks at the sensation; my own cock jerks as I watch the oil gliding over him, his full cock, the heavy sac, and down.  The flask is gone again and my hands are on him, smoothing the liquid over him, sliding over his inner thighs, loving the touch of my hands against his skin.  I hold his legs further apart and my tongue begins to probe his entrance.  He's almost sobbing as my tongue teases him before pushing inside him, hot and moist, relaxing him so he's ready for my hard cock.  I raise my head at last, and kiss his thigh, my fingers slipping inside him to stretch him further.  I'm bigger than most - well, than anyone really, except maybe for Cupid - and I don't want to hurt him just because we've ended up rushing this the way we have.  He goes rigid as my fingers work him, then thrusts down, trying to impale himself on them.  I withdraw and he cries out in disappointment.  His willing legs are on my shoulders and I move so that the tip of my cock is pressing against him.  My cock is already oiled and ready for him.  It's been ready for him since the first moment I saw him.

"Please Ares - I need you."

I look down at him. I need him too, need to be inside him, to feel him around me.  We need to be together now.  I begin to push into him slowly, my cock sliding into his tightness, all the way until his back arches and he cries out in unbelieving ecstasy.  I'm still for an instant.  I can't move. I'm inside him, inside Iphicles.  Gods.  I start to move again, pushing into him rhythmically until he's crying out each time I sheathe myself inside him, moaning when I withdraw, and in between my name keeps escaping his lips.  I've dreamed of this so often, but it's never been this good.  He's so tight around me, and his sounds of pleasure are more than I can bear.  My pace increases, my cock thrusting into him harder and deeper until he's crying out continuously and I'm groaning as I feel it building in me.  Oh gods, Iphicles, Iphicles.  My hand reaches to his cock, lovingly closing around his thickness and warmth, then beginning to slide up and down it, gaspingly telling him how much I love its hardness, its beauty, its size, as I thrust faster and faster into his tight ass.  It sends him over the edge. Crying out in agonising pleasure, he comes, his seed spurting again and again as he comes and can't stop.  His muscles clench round me, but it's hearing him call my name with that look on his face that does it for me.  My hips are pumping uncontrollably as I fill him with my seed, and I'm crying out, head back, screaming my love and completion to the world.

We sprawl limply together afterwards, sweating, panting, almost trembling. Our lips meet in the sweetest kiss I've ever known, and then we're just holding each other.  We should find somewhere more comfortable, I'm thinking idly.  Soon.  Not yet, as his lips brush my skin.  Soon.

And then I'm suddenly waking up.  Alone.  I panic for an instant, but looking round, find that he's sorting through the offerings on the altar. He pads back to me, pausing to pick something up from the pile of his clothes and kicking the cushion out of his way before laying back down beside me.  It's only then that I see what he's holding.  He starts working with his knife, the skin of the peach coiling and curving until, in one piece, it falls to the floor.  Regardless of the juice that spatters his golden skin as he does so, he slices a piece of the soft fruit and offers it to my mouth.

My heart's suddenly so full that it's all I can do to accept it from his loving hand.

The End