I ignored the twinge of pain in my leg as I knelt before Rena's sarcophagus. I know she isn't really in there.  She's in Hades.  I know that it doesn't matter where I am she hears my thoughts.  Every time.  All the time.  She's all I think about.  I lied to her, pretended.  And she still loved me, trusted me.  I swore to protect her. Then I wasn't even here when she died.

Some damn protector I am.

You would think I would learn.  'Don't get too close.'  I keep telling myself that.  When you get close, you find out that they aren't who you thought they were.  Or they betray you or leave you.

Or they die.

"Damn you Rena!  Damn you for dying!"  I'm screaming in rage until I remember she can hear me.

"Oh gods, Rena, love, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."  Why do I whisper my sorrow when I scream my anger.


"Not now." I don't even look to see who it is.  I don't care.

"Sire."  It's Montoga.  I try to ignore him.  But he's not going to let me.  He walks to me.  "Sire, I'm sorry, but the councilors are waiting.  The meeting..." I turn to him and his voice trails off.

I try.

I gather myself together.

I get up.

I go to the meeting.

I try.

"I did try Rena, but I don't care." I'm walking back and forth this time.  It's night and for tonight they'll let me grieve in peace.  "I pretended for awhile.  Lost myself in rage at the returning soldiers then in shame at how I treated them."  I stop facing her coffin, her sarcophagus.  I put my hands on it and lean on them, as if that will bring me closer to her.

"I did try."  She'll be disappointed in me.  "Nothing is right without you. Not the food or drink.  You're not there to share it with.  Not the council meetings, I miss your sarcastic remarks.  I miss the mess you left in the bath.  Your stealing my shirts.  I want to hold you, caress you, make love. Join our bodies together.  My bed is empty. Even your scent is gone.  Not even my time with our son is right anymore.  I look at him, see you, and look away."

I try to explain to her.  She has to understand. "I can't stay here.  I'm useless.  Hercules and Iolaus tried to help.  They stayed with me.  And they didn't say it, but I know they've both felt this loss, this emptiness.  They promised that it would get easier.  Easier to go through the day.  Easier to continue.  They're probably right."

I catch myself crying and stop a moment.

"They're gone now.  I convinced them that I was fine.  Convinced Mom. Actually, I didn't convince her.  She left because she knew she wasn't helping.  She couldn't help.  She left Jason though."

I reach for my boot knife.

"All these people tried.  I tried.  I want to be with you.  I *need* to be with you.  And this is the only way."

I sit down leaning back against her sarcophagus.  Taking a deep breath, I bring the knife to my wrist breaking the skin and preparing to open the vein with an upward slice.  It would take too long if I sliced across.  Someone might find me too soon.

I start cutting and feel a flash of pain.


I hear low steady moaning and try to figure out who it is so I can shut him up.

"Oh gods I hurt."

Oh it's me.

I try to figure out whether I'm dead or not.

"Rena?" I call for her.

"No."  The voice is deep and male. Not Rena's.

With a gasp of pain, I try to sit up.  My body won't cooperate.  There's a low dark chuckle from somewhere in front of me and above.  Every part of my body is on fire.

"Tartarus?"  I take another guess as pain continues firing through my body.

That 'not Rena' voice replies again, "No."

Slowly and very carefully I twist my head around and open my eyes.  And find him.

I see the black leather boots first then powerful black leather clad legs.

He's standing there looking down at me.  Son of a bitch.

Dressed completely in black leather.  His gauntlets and vest have some silver on them.  He stands there with one hand on his belt and the other resting on the hilt of his sword.  Looking at me.  His vest is open a little, displaying his chest and some hair.  He's wearing a silver sword earring.

I've seen him before.  Well I've seen his statue.  He looks just like it. Tall, powerful, lean, tough.



"Yes."  He kneels down and grapples me up until I'm leaning against the sarcophagus again.

Gods that hurts.

"What?"  I manage to get out before another wave of pain makes speech impossible.

He sits next to me bringing my body to lean against his.  And whispers, "What, what?"

He's stroking me almost absent-mindedly and if feels *so* good.  Soothing the burning pain and filling me with warm liquid heat.

I try to jerk away from him.  He just pulls me back.  "What did you do to me?" I realize that my voice is slurred and try to move away again.

He won't let me.  Instead he pulls me closer and strokes my hair.  "You'll be fine."  As he strokes, I can hear my hair crackling under his hand.  "I just ran some lightening through you."

"You what!"  Why would he run lightening through me?

"Ran some lightening through you."  He's pulled me down to nestle against him and I hear his heart thudding under my ear and feel his warmth flowing into my body.

"Why?" I whisper the question.

He pulls my head up until I can look into his eyes.  "I don't want you killing yourself."

I pull away from him and this time he lets me go.  I collapse to the floor beside him.

"Why do you care?" I'm angry.  He has no right to interfere in this.  I'm not sworn to him.

He pulls me up so that I'm kneeling in front of him and we can see each other's eyes.  "Rome is in a conquering mood again.  I need strong warrior kings who can keep them out of Greece.  You're one of them."

"I don't care."  I spit the words out hoping he'll get angry enough to kill me.

His eyes narrow.  He's pissed but not angry enough.  Instead of killing me he pulls me up and moves us to the sarcophagus.  I struggle with him and black out suddenly.

This time when I wake up, I can feel smooth rounded marble under my back.  I'm on her coffin.  I try to flip off and can't.  I can't control my body at all.  He pulls my head back forcing me to look at him.  I try shutting my eyes and can't do that either.

"You're not killing yourself," he growls out.  His eyes seem to see to my very soul.  I whimper trying to twist off, to turn my head, to shut my eyes. Anything to end the intimacy.

I don't know how long we're like that.  Abruptly everything changes.

His head comes down his mouth taking mine.  His teeth nibble my lips, his tongue licks at them parting them to brush my teeth.  His hand twists in my hair arching my head back giving him more access.  My mouth parts under his and his tongue moves in twisting, tasting memorizing every ridge and dip within.

His hand twisted in my hair and his mouth on mine.  That's all.  But every part of my body ignites.  Fire runs across my skin through my body, my nipples, my cock.

When his mouth leaves mine, I moan in disappointment.  Until his hands rip my shirt off.  His mouth goes to my collarbone.  Worrying it, scraping his teeth across the sensitive bone, playing his tongue into the dip that joins it to my neck.  My shirt is in shreds and his mouth sucks one nipple while his hand pinches the other one.

I'm gasping in passion for the first time since Rena died.  That thought startles me and I lose the fire for a moment.  Then he straddles me, his mouth and hand returning to my nipples while he rubs his groin against mine.  I can feel his hard cock rubbing against me through our pants.

My chest arches to his hand, to his mouth.  My hands clench and I undulate against him.  I can move again and I do.  Pushing my body to his.

I hear my cries of passion.  Gasps and moans.  Soft cries of please, yes, his name.

I want this.

He moves again getting off as I start to sit up he pulls me around by my feet and I'm arched over the marble.  His hands rip my belt and pants off me tearing the pants.  I try to help him with my boots, but his hands push my hips against the marble and his mouth engulfs my cock.  I can't even scream - it's too much.  He releases my cock and pulls my boots off.  I lean up on my elbows watching him as he stands.

He's naked.  His cock ... oh gods his cock is huge.



Ready for me.

I turn spreading my legs bracing my arms on the marble.

He's there behind me.  Close.  I shut my eyes and shudder as his hands travel up and down my torso.  His fingers pinching my nipples.  My breath comes in low hitched pants of readiness.  Feeling his cock brushing my ass, I try to move back to him.  He grabs my hips immobilizing me.  His mouth is on my back my shoulder my neck my ear.

"Do you want this?" His whisper is hot against my ear.

Still shuddering I raggedly nod.

"Do you want this?" he whispers again not moving.

I nod again.  I want this.  I want him to fuck me.  Here.  Now.  Over her sarcophagus.

"Do you want this?" he insists still not moving to take me.

What does he want?  I figure it out.


"Good." He pushes me forward more and his hands travel to my ass.

He parts the checks and pushes one finger against the entrance.  I try to move back and his hand slaps my ass hard.  "Slow down," he orders.  His finger is moist with oil as it enters me twisting to open me for him.

For his cock.

I clench my fists and bow my head as he adds a second oily finger.  Oh, it feels right.  Hot.  His fingers stretch me and stretch me.  A third finger pulls me further apart and he moves them deeper.

Pleasure shoots through me.  I bite my lip controlling my need to thrust back.  My ass is quivering as his fingers push and stroke and twist within. Then they're gone and his cock moves to take their place.

The head just within, he twists one arm around my chest to play with my nipple and hold me to him. I tense a little and hear his whispered, "Relax," as he moves further in rotating his hips to push deeper into me.

He drives deeper and shifts until I jerk in his arms.  He's found it.  He pushes over that place again and I'm twisting on his cock shifting my ass until we find a rhythm that pushes him into me hard enough, fast enough over that sweet spot within over and over again.  He continues to play with my nipples with one hand and the other creeps around to grasp my cock.  His hand strokes and pulls my cock to the same beat as our bodies' thrust and part.

Ares' cock in my ass.  Ares' hand on my cock.   Panting in my ear.  His sweat falling on my back.  I'm defined in this instant by those realities. Nothing else matters.

I feel my body tighten as I cum.  Ropes of sticky white falling across his hand, across my leg, onto my wife's coffin.

Still gasping and shaking I feel him cuming.  Inside me.  He pulls my hips to him tightly holding me tight against him as his cock leaps inside and jerks as he rocks his hips moving that last bit deeper.  He bites my shoulder as he finishes.  Breaking skin.

With a moan, I collapse onto Rena's sarcophagus.  He follows me down panting into my ear.

The last thing I hear before blacking out is his soft still painting voice. "Now that's a reason for living."

I wake in my own bed.  At first, I think that last night was a dream.  But as I move all the right muscles protest.  My ass and nipples are still sore and sensitive.  Everything else is healed but he left those reminders.  My clothes sit on the chest ready for me.  I think about last night for a moment then bathe, using cold water and a sponge.  I needed the cold water.

Tullas stands outside my bedroom door.  Standing guard and awaiting orders. His eyes grow wide when I pull the door open yelling for breakfast.  He has a servant get it.  A large one.

I savor the taste of food as I skim through the basket of scrolls left for my review and signature.  After two scrolls I'm irritated.  About halfway through the basket I'm concerned.  What in Tartarus have I been signing the last few months that they send this shit to me?

"Tullas," I holler, "Get Lucas and four of his people up here now."

As I wait, I look outside.  At least a third of the guards aren't out on the practice field.


Lucas came up with Imbrios, Kefer, Camden, and Leka. They all look nervous.  Then I start shooting out the orders.

"Leka you and two others roust out the guards who aren't on duty or practicing and have them clean out the aqueduct."  She looks at me blankly. Then a slow grin lights on her face.  She's perfect for this kind of duty.

"Shall I let them know that if they don't need to practice that their energy can be put to good use improving the city, Sire?"  Her voice is full of barely choked down laughter and she's already rocking back.

"Yes," she turns to leave, "And Leka any complainers can be assigned to the area off the slaughterhouse."

She leaves laughing.

"Imbrios take Kefer and Camden and get me everything I've signed since Rena's death."  They look at each other trying not to show anything.  "I mean everything.  Every order, pay slip, proclamation, treaty... Everything."

"Yes sir."  They know me well and wait.

"And call off the council meeting.  We'll meet in two days.  Oh and make sure that none of the councilors leave."

When I'm alone with Lucas, he starts shaking his head.  "About damn time you came back."

"I want a full report over dinner.  Two other things: find out what the Romans are up to and the lad who rode for Alcmene, what happened to him?"

"He was discharged for disobeying orders."

"Get him back.  If you think he'll make it in the unit then put him there.  If not, find a decent spot for him in a unit he'll work out in."

Lucas nodded.

Alone again I leaned back against the desk.  I could hear Leka's voice rousting the men out.  I could also hear a few thuds and smashes.

I took a deep breath.

"Rena, I guess I won't be coming after all.  I love you.  I still miss you. But I think I need to stay here a little longer."

The pain is still there.  The hole in my heart and life.  But there are still reasons to live.

'Ares, that better not have been a one night stand.'

I heard a faint echoing reply in my mind.  'No.'

I leave to go play with my son.