Part 1 by Thamiris
"Dry bones can harm no one." -- T.S. Eliot
It was all Iphicles' fault. "Help me," he'd said, and speared Iolaus with that soulful, brooding look. Helen of Troy had nothing on Herc's brother. So here was Iolaus, launched on a mission by Iphicles' pretty face, feet pulverized by the rocky soil of Delphi, spine twisted like the painted black and gold snakes that crawled over the temple walls. At least he thought they were painted.
The main chamber hissed under the clack of tongues, which they said was steam from a secret spring, but Iolaus had his doubts. Maybe Apollo had been a little premature in naming himself the mighty python-killer. He'd been a kid at the time, and god or not, giant pythons were pretty hard to kill. Iolaus knew from experience. But the monster-virgins here for a little one-on-one with the Delphic oracle were too star-struck for much brain action, and stood valiantly in the endless line, armed with troughs crammed with gold, chests with gems, barrels with grain, leading oxen, horses, goats and sheep, a few with continence problems, so the air was ripe with beast-shit and sulphur.
Iolaus had been in the line for half a day, sandwiched between a rich matron from Naxos, so covered with gold jewelry that she clanked with every blink, and a Spartan ambassador with post- nasal drip who snuffled like a happy pig every time Iolaus' heart beat. Killing someone for porcine snuffling might seem harsh, but if they didn't reach the Pythia soon, this guy'd find his nose on the shit-smeared floor. Then he'd have something to sniff about.
As they neared the front, clouds of incense blackened the air, and Iolaus' eyes watered as he peered ahead. He was all for atmosphere, but this was nuts. The yammering voices faded, then the lowing and grunting, and finally the Spartan snuffling, all sound eaten by the smoky air.
"The priestess will see you now," a voice whispered, but when he turned, no one was there. Even the clanking matron at his back had disappeared into the fog.
Blinking furiously against the stinging tears, he took a few careful steps forward, then stopped as the hissing grew louder.
The impatient voice nudged him. "She's waiting."
Under his feet, the sticky floor turned slick and mossy, like stones in a river, and he wagged his arms, fumbling for a wall's reassurance. Nothing. The whole temple had vanished, and he now walked across the sky like Helios without the horses. Something brushed against his thigh, and he jumped with a squawk. When he landed on the springy ground, the fog shifted, thinning to reveal a huge grey rock that shot upward and endless. A fissure that fractured the rock, exposing an oddly-smooth core that glowed an eerie red. On a flat stone level with his eye, directly between the two gaping sides of the rock: a massive twined ball of snakes.
That's when he noticed the flashes of pale skin against the green and black, the emerald-ringed hand reaching for him. "Come."
Her stone ledge opened over a narrow fiery chasm that leaked snakes and steam, and Iolaus' steps slowed again. Iphicles owed him big-time. He didn't like slimy, and a thousand times slimy was... Well, a thousand times worse than happy-drunk in bed with a barmaid (or a king), his belly plump with roast chicken. And the Pythia herself looked like she'd been hanging around a little too long with her snaky friends. Her skin was cracked and shiny, oily under the drunken red light, while her black-marble eyes rolled deep in her head.
"Iolaus," she said.
"Uh, yeah. Hi. See, Iphicles has a question for you." He fumbled for the bag of gold at his waist. "He wants to know who'll win if he goes against Philip of Macedonia. He doesn't want to risk it if Philip's gonna kick his butt. I'm supposed to give you--"
"Dry bones." Her eyes had flipped up, showing pale green undersides, and her voice deepened, crawled toward him and licked his spine.
He shivered, fingers tightening around the sac's leather neck. "Uh, yeah. Good answer." Iphicles' advisors would spend weeks trying to make sense of that one. "But maybe you could elaborate a little--"
"Dry bones. Pain. Blood."
How'd she do that spooky thing with her voice? "Uh huh. So you're saying he should stay home and worry about grain prices, forget about--"
"You killed a man, and he's going to make you pay. He's going
to make you all pay." And she screamed.
Part 2 by JaimieBlue
A dark mist began surrounding Iolaus and soon he no longer saw the woman before him.
"Hello? Hey, what's going on here?"
Iolaus saw nothing but black. He took a tentative step, unsure as to whether or not there was any ground left to step on, but stopped when he heard two whispering voices.
"What will become of him?"
"He will be punished."
"Are you sure he did it?"
"I am never wrong."
"But what if you are? Should he not have a chance to redeem himself?"
"Why should a murderer have the chance to redeem himself?"
"Because I don't think he did it."
"What do you suggest?"
The second voice's answer was blurred. Iolaus was beginning to pass worried and was moving straight for panic. He almost jumped when he was able to hear the voices clearly again.
"Then it is agreed."
"Fine. Just keep to your end of the deal."
The voices faded and Iolaus once again felt lost. The mist began dissipating and suddenly Iolaus found himself standing in the middle of a busy street. He went from person to person, trying to ask someone where he was, but nobody answered him. It was as if they were all afraid to speak.
He spotted a temple and was relieved to see the flowers and hearts motif on the archway. Surely Aphrodite could help him.
He ran into the temple and found it to be empty.
"Hello? Is anybody here?"
The scent of roses drifted past his nostrils as he heard a tinkling sound. He turned to speak to the Goddess...
...only to be stopped in his tracks.
"Sweetcheeks! You came back! I knew you couldn't resist the need for REAL love forever."
After a few moments, Iolaus gained back the use of his voice. "Ares?"
"The one and only!" The white-leather-clad man wrapped his arms around the stunned mortal.
Iolaus realized he wasn't quite home anymore. Only two words came to mind.
Part 3 by Nymphica
The next time, Iolaus decided, that Iphicles made with the puppy-dog eyes and the 'please help me', it would be a great time for a fishing trip. Iolaus hadn't truly known what to expect at Delphi, beyond the interminable smelly queue, but he had definitely not expected to find revelation in the fragrant arms of Ares. It was a revelation, however, and a simple one. He'd been waiting for it most of their lives; Iphicles, pretty Iphicles who bore the weight of the whole cruel world on his stooping, well-muscled shoulders, needed to get a life.
"I missed you!" Ares cooed, squeezing harder, and crushing Iolaus' head against his breast. He smelled like lavender and roses, and he giggled like a wanton child. "Are you hurt? No, you're not ... are you hungry? You're always hungry. Hungry and ho ..." The breathless spill of words was punctuated with a self deprecating giggle, which Iolaus heard echoing deep inside Ares' chest. "We can eat, would you like that?"
"Ares." The name was catalyst enough for immediate action, and Iolaus gave the god a firm shove in the chest, before the flood of sickly enthusiasm could smother him completely. "I ... I'm not who you think I am." Deja vu. Iolaus held his hands up a little, trying to buy a little space. If Ares grabbed a hold of him again, Iolaus wasn't going to be held responsible for his reactions. "Am I?" The guy had said he'd be forever grateful ... and who knew *what* that meant, in this fuck-twisted world of his?
"Aren't you?" His broad smile faltering, and his smooth brow wrinkling with curiosity, the beardless mirror-Ares stooped a little, to peer into his eyes. Iolaus shrugged, trying to look as much like himself, and as little like his other self, as possible. Sometimes the only way to reason with a god was to duck the fireballs and wait for 'em to figure it out for themselves. Or ... probably not fireballs, in this case. Love balls? Iolaus winced, and took a hasty breath, following it with hasty words.
"I was here before. I don't know when." Iolaus risked a quick glance around, but he didn't know the temple. It was a little less sickly than Aphrodite's favoured decor back home, but still, way too pink. "I helped you ..."
"Oh. You." The joy drained out of Ares' features along with the puzzlement, leaving his sculpted face smooth and empty. Not the eyes, though. The eyes melted into pools of golden brown sorrow, and then Ares caught a breath, and his full lower lip trembled a little. Iolaus took a recoiling step, reminded suddenly and horribly of Iphicles, and the pretty, melt-eyed pout that started it all. In fact, without the beard, Ares was ...
Iolaus shook himself, hard. It was one thing boning for a reasonably available king. It was stupid, boning for a god who happened to bear a passing, pouty resemblance to the aforementioned king.
"You ... really did think I was him." Now that he thought about it, Iolaus found that just a little disappointing. Hadn't he been a hero in this world, for like, five seconds? Hadn't he almost singlehandedly dealt with their sick-fuck Sovereign for them? Well, fairly singlehandedly. There had been that Joxer guy, of course. Oh, and Hercules ...
"I thought ... I hoped ... now that *he's* gone ..." Ares straightened, and and clasped his hands demurely in front of him. "I'm glad to see you too. Hello, Iolaus," he said, with a way-too-obvious sigh.
"He gets god hugs and free dinners, and I get 'hello, Iolaus'?" Iolaus sniffed, and squared his shoulders, resettling his dignity. He hoped. It wasn't like it was just this sweet smelling loverboy Ares, either. Back home, Aphrodite raved and cooed about the other Iolaus' doubtless charms; how charming, how sweet, how romantic ... "I must be doing something wrong."
"Don't be angry," Ares requested, and his downturned mouth rose a little, his eyes narrowing with a hint of mischief. He produced a coy smile, ripe with invitation. "Are ... you hungry?"
"I'm lost, I'm pissed off, I'm probably in a *lot* of trouble that I
don't deserve ... probably ..." Iolaus stopped himself
adding to the list, in case pathetic green envy should slip in there,
by mistake. This whole world stank, from corner to corner,
and to be jealous of anyone in it, or from it, was just too sad a
commentary on his own life. "Yeah," he said, deciding that an alliance
with a god might not be such a bad place to start sorting things
out. Best make nice. "I'm starving."
Part 4 by Huntress
"Starving hmmm," the God smiled at him. "I think I can take care of that." A brief thought and a table appeared, laden with all kinds of food. "Now, why don't you tell me how you got here."
"See," Iolaus began, in between mouthfuls of food, "it started with Iphicles and the eyes...he makes the same faces as Herc when he wants something...and I can't say no." By the time he finished, the God was looking at him in understanding.
"But that still doesn't explain how you got *here*." Ares watched him eat, watched Iolaus' jaw work in an up and down motion, chewing the food. Watched his Adams Apple move as he swallowed. "Not that it matters." He leered at the blond, and Iolaus nearly choked on his food.
"Don't look at me like that." Iolaus pushed his plate away and stood. "I am *hot*, I mean *not*, your Iolaus." He felt himself begin to sweat, which was kind of strange, considering it was cool in the temple. "You stay away from me...and don't get any ideas about touching me either. Me and Herc have a relationship...he doesn't like it when I mess around with other men."
"I'm not a man Iolaus...well, I am, but I'm also a God." Before Iolaus had a chance to respond to that, he was on a bed, quite naked, with a naked God of Love kneeling above him. "A horny one too."
Iolaus jumped off the bed, and backed up. "Oh no!" He backed up further as Ares walked toward him. "Herc, he'll have fits. Tie me up, and spank me so hard I won't walk for a week." He finally backed into the wall, and took a deep breath.
"And I bet you like every minute of it too," Ares said, his eyes moving up and down Iolaus' body.
Iolaus gulped, and met Ares' eyes. "Well...I...I..." He didn't get a chance to finish. Ares scooped him into his arms and tossed him onto the bed.
"Come on Iolaus...let's play." Once again, Ares was kneeling above the hunter, but this time Iolaus couldn't move. His hands were bound above his head. "Now don't tell me you don't like this...I know better."
Iolaus did like it. There was something about being helpless that appealed to him...as long as he knew the person he was with wouldn't hurt him. And he knew Ares wouldn't do that. So he relaxed, and smiled up at the God. "You going to spank me Ares?"
"Iolaus, last time you were here, I seem to recall you making some remark about bondage being fun." He leaned down, his mouth pressing hard against the hunter's. He broke the kiss, grinning at the redness creeping over Iolaus' whole body. "If you don't want me Iolaus...."
"I didn't say *that*. I just...if Herc finds out, I may need protection."
"I'll give you all the protection you need Iolaus." Ares' mouth upon Iolaus' again, moving down to his neck, while his hands stroked Iolaus' arms. Sitting up, he slowly spread Iolaus' legs, his fingertips caressing Iolaus' inner thighs. "I don't want to waste any time...who knows how long you'll be here."
Before Iolaus had a chance to respond, his cock was sucked into the wet warmth of the God's mouth, and Iolaus moaned, arching his body up, feeling his hardness touch the back of Ares' throat. Ares' head bobbed up and down, sucking harder with each motion, until Iolaus was writhing beneath him, incoherent grunts coming from his throat. Then Ares' moved away from him, and Iolaus screamed. "NO...DON'T STOP...HOW COULD YOU STOP NOW!"
"I have other things in mind." Ares leered at him, and spread Iolaus' legs further apart, watching Iolaus' eyes on his hands. He began to stroke his own hardened shaft, his eyes not leaving Iolaus'. "You have such beautiful eyes...I could get lost in them."
"Ares...please." Iolaus pulled at the ropes binding him. "I like bondage, but not torture. Do something, would you."
"Tsk, Tsk Iolaus," Ares giggled. "Patience is a virtue."
"You let me tie you up, and tease you, and then you can tell me about patience." Iolaus pushed his body upwards. "You're worse then Herc."
"What does he do?" Ares' fingers began to tease the hunter again. "Does he tease you? Make you beg? Tell me Iolaus...I do so want to know." He leaned down, leaving a trail of love bites, from the hunter's calves, to his groin. "Talk Iolaus." Grabbing Iolaus by the legs he lifted them over his shoulders, bringing Iolaus' ass to his mouth. "Talk...." He bit one of the cheeks.
"Oh Gods Ares...he does what you're doing now. He touches me softly with his fingers, then he bites...then he fucks me senseless...PLEASE!"
"Well then," Ares said, "I guess I should do the same." A jar of honey appeared, and Ares slowly dripped it onto Iolaus' ass, his fingers spreading it over the creamy white cheeks. "I like it so much better then oil...."
The scent was heady, and Iolaus bucked up against the God, screaming again. "NOW...FUCK ME DAMMIT!"
"Such language Iolaus...." He let Iolaus' legs fall, pushing said legs to Iolaus' chest. *SMACK!* The slap was followed by a caress. "I love a man who begs." *SMACK* "Do you like it?" One look at Iolaus' cock, and he got his answer. "Oh yeah...that you do." *SMACK!* One finger entered, and Iolaus pushed against it. *SMACK!* Another finger. *SMACK!* A third finger. *SMACK!* The fingers slid out, and pushed back in hard, hitting the prostate.
The fingers were gone, and Iolaus felt the hardness against his tightness. His eyes were pleading with the God, his voice following, barely a whisper. "Please."
Ares debated whether some more teasing was in order, but his heart skipped a beat at the look in Iolaus' eyes. His own cock was hard and wanting of the warmth of the hunter's ass, and he thrust in, Iolaus' body tensing, his eyes growing wide at the sudden movement. "Shhh...relax." Hands massaging his abdomen, and Iolaus calmed, his breathing slowing. Ares' cock slid out, and moved back in, and Iolaus lifted his body to meet it, his pleasure spot getting it.
"Oh, that is nice," Iolaus moaned. "More...please."
"I do aim to please," Ares crooned. Another pull out, a harder push in, again and again, hitting that same spot with each movement. "You *like* this." The thrusts came quicker, and harder, both men moving as one, pleasuring each other, breaths coming faster.
Ares' hand moved to Iolaus' cock, his hand matching his movements. Iolaus arched his body, moaning, "Yes...that's it...yes...yes...YESSSS!" He couldn't hold back any longer, and neither could the God, and they climaxed together, Iolaus' seed bathing Ares' hand, Ares' semen warming Iolaus.
Collapsing together, they smiled at each other.
"Now that was *real* nice," Ares grinned.
"Oh yeah," Iolaus agreed. "You think you can untie me now?"
"Now Iolaus," came a familiar voice. "I think you should stay like that. It's going to make it a lot easier for me to punish you."
Both men turned at the voice, and all the color drained from Iolaus' face.
"Hi Herc," Iolaus said, with a nervous laugh. "Fancy meeting you here."
Part 5 by Shamenka
"So, how did you get Herc over there too, or is that another Secret of the Gods?" Iphicles nibbled on the earlobe as he whispered into it.
"No great secret, I just asked my sister to help. You know, it really pays to have a twin sister." The God started to chuckle, a deep vibrating laugh that vibrated into Iphicles' body as he rested against his Godly lover.
"Why did you send Herc over there anyway?" Iphicles reached out to stroke the tanned chest, paying particular attention to the welcoming nipples perked up to meet his teasing touch.
"Because It'll keep that shit for brains brother of mine out of our hair." The God turned, capturing Iphicles' lips in a passionate kiss. "At least, Zeus will, once he discovers Herc and his little friend are missing. He might even kill Ares for us." He laughed, harder, harsher than before. "That'd make Herc jump, that other Ares suddenly dropping dead at his feet. Especially as Herc'll be blaming our dear departed Ares for it all in the first place."
"Apollo, my God. I'm glad you don't hate me!" Iphicles pushed the blond God down, making him lie on the couch, kissing him. "Fuck me?" He begged.
"Always, my King."
Neither noticed the ripple in reality as something removed itself from their presence. As it reformed, it removed a helmet from its head.
"You were right GU. They do want Gramps to kill Ares." Strife handed the helmet back to Hades but as their hands touched he pulled the older God into a tight embrace. Strife kissed the older God. "So, what now? Ya' ain't thinkin' of lettin' them do for Unc are ya'?"
"Don't worry young Strife, no one is going to kill Ares." The voice made Strife leap away from the God of the Dead. He turned around and came face to face with Zeus. An angry Zeus. "Why would Apollo want me to kill Ares?" he demanded an answer from both of the Gods before him.
"Don't know." Strife replied.
"Nor do I, yet." Hades informed his brother. "Does Ares even know what he's being blamed for?"
"No, I've got him waiting for me in my study. He's having tea with his mother." Zeus laughed at the twin looks of horror on his brother and grandson's faces.
"Don't that come under cruel an' unusual punishments?" Strife asked.
"Trust me, I wont harm my own son. Not Ares at any rate." Zeus nodded to each God, bidding them good bye. "Keep searching, and keep me informed. They're going to slip up at some point."
"Of course." Hades watched his brother vanish and followed his life force all the way back to Olympus.
"Wouldn't you like to be invisible at that tea table?" Strife asked.
"Possibly, but I think you'd get hit in the cross fire."
Hercules looked at iolaus, all tied up, red from Ares' spanking. Ares' cum seeping out of his well fucked ass. He was indeed going to punish Iolaus. Ares couldn't help it, not with him being a Love God. Iolaus should have known better.
Whatever his darker natured Ares sent them here for could wait, until after he paid Iolaus back. Spanking obviously didn't make the man behave, then he'd just have to find something that did!
"I believe, Ares, that Iolaus learned nothing from your spanking." He smiled at the Love God, making the God shiver in either desire or fear. With this Ares it was always so hard to tell.
"So, what do you suggest?" Ares purred, pouting at the visiting hero.
"Time out." Hercules reached for the God. "He can stay there and think about his actions, while we occupy our time in a more fun way." He leaned against the God and whispered his requirements to him.
Another bed appeared.
"You, my dear Hercules, are such a wise man. I don't know why that nasty
twin of mine in your world hasn't noticed it before now." Ares removed
Hercules' clothing with a thought and crawled over the new bed to
meet him half way. "So, what would you like to do first?
Part 6 by Foxmonkey
Ares tried not to look bored. Hera had run through every available bit of Olympian gossip, and was starting to ask - once again - about his private life.
"I have plenty of grandchildren, Olympus knows, but Ares, don't you think it's time to settle down? There are so *many* lovely minor goddesses you could choose from.."
The pink and gold mosaic on the wall held his attention. If he looked sideways and squinted, all the figures appeared to be naked. If he didn't blink, his eyes watered, and his vision wavered so the figures appeared to be naked *and* fucking. Hmmm, that had to be Zeus and Ganymede.
"Ahem." He'd never been happier to hear the snort that announced Zeus' presence. "Woman, leave the boy alone." Waggling a finger at Ares for him to follow, Zeus disappeared in an impressive shimmer of gold.
Oh yes, he'd give dear old Dad a peck on the cheek in thanks. But first. "Sorry Hera, off to see what the old man needs." He raised his hand to stop her protests, and rose from his seat. "I'll visit soon, I promise." She looked doubtful. "Really." She scowled. "Seriously." The room shook as his mother's anger gathered. "I'm free in about five years!" Ares called, just before he disappeared, but not before Hera's enraged snarl lifted the hair on the back of his neck.
* * *
These gods *really* needed to get lives. Ares watched Zeus pace back and forth in front of him, relaying all Strife had seen and heard. He couldn't believe his brother had gone through such an elaborate scheme just to rip a piece of nooky off of Iphicles. It made no sense, but then Apollo was no brain trust. Ares crossed his legs, and smoothed the leather over his thigh, listening to Zeus as he finally wound down. Just about there -
".so I want you to tell me what's going on. What makes Apollo think that I'd kill you? Why on Olympus does he need you out of the way? What's Iphicles have to do with this?"
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't you know all of this?" Ares really had other things to do. "I mean, you're the king of the gods, right? All-knowing, all-seeing.yakkity schmakkity, yaddayaddayadda?"
His father's eyes narrowed. "Did you know that Iolaus is missing?"
Now that was news - happy news. "Yeah? Has he died for the 45th and final time, I can only hope?" He couldn't suppress a grin, so he didn't try. "I really hated that little -"
"Your brother's missing too."
Brother's missing? If Iolaus was missing, and a 'brother' was missing too, that could only mean one guy. Ares wriggled, but Zeus' gaze pinned him neatly to his chair. "Uhm, Hercules is missing?" Had his voice cracked? "The world's less one demigod, then. Well, gotta go!" His heart was racing and his knees shook, but Zeus pointed a finger.
"Don't move. You're right you know, I *am* all-seeing." Zeus' robes swished against the toes of Ares' boots as he walked by. "I see all kinds of things during the course of a day. It's amazing really, how mortals live their lives without having nervous breakdowns. I mean, we can spy on them any time we want, and they can't do a thing about it. Not even Hercules is immune, though I don't check on him often, and I don't watch if he happens to be with a lover. Usually."
Something about that last word bothered Ares, and he began to tap his ring against his sword. "Usually?" he asked. Zeus stopped in front of him, and smiled. No, not a smile, it was more of a smirk.
"*Usually.* I've seen him with Iolaus, and it's beyond boring. I've seen him with his wives, that Morrighan person," he shuddered, "and even Iphicles. Full rut, mind you. Naked flesh, screams of passion. None of it could prepare me for a little spectacle I witnessed a few days ago." Zeus paused for effect, and Ares' face felt hot. "Hercules was alone at a campsite in the woods near Thrace."
"I was just about to move along when *you* popped out of nowhere. I thought there'd be trouble - I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the grin on Hercules' face, and the little smile you gave him in return."
Slumping forward, Ares covered his eyes. "OK, all right. He was about to go fight some swamp monster, and I just wanted to.." The last few words were garbled.
"What's that? You wanted to wish him luck and give him a kiss? You usually screen your encounters but didn't think anyone would catch this one because it would be quick?"
"Just kill me now," Ares murmured. He opened his eyes when Zeus laughed.
"Ares, I've always wanted to see you and Hercules make peace. I'm not upset that you're lovers - I prefer it to the battling. I'm going to skin Apollo alive, however. He zapped Iolaus and Hercules so you'd get the blame, and if I hadn't known that you're lovers, I probably would have fallen for it."
"All that so that he could be with Iphicles? Because he didn't want Hercules to know about them? I want to kick his ass from here to Tartarus before you skin him."
"I'll take care of Apollo - you have other things to do."
Father and son looked at each other a moment, and Ares, blushing furiously, was the first to look away. "Give me a boost, old man."
"Gladly, boy." Swirls of blue energy chased patterns in Zeus' palms. "Do me a favor when you find Hercules. Give him a kiss for me."
The grin on Zeus' face was positively gleeful.
If you have any questions, contact Thamiris