Note:  Assume either that fifth season Xena never happened, or that this episode takes place before those events.

Seems I’ve always wanted to kill dear old dad.  Patricide.  Mmm.  Always made me shiver with pleasure just thinking about it.  I mean, how often can you kill someone and fulfill an old family tradition at the same time? Problem is, it’s tough to kill a god.  Unless you can get your hands on some hind’s blood, it’s damn near impossible.  Especially if your father still has more power than you do, despite everything you’ve done to grab more for yourself.  And that day, it wasn’t just my life in the balance.

But the game has changed.  Since that day.

Simple murder would have been nothing.  A hind’s blood-tipped dagger between the ribs would have been far too painless for that viper.  I wanted to rip him open, drape his entrails around his shoulders, and burn his liver in a thanksgiving offering, while he watched it all through dying eyes.  I could feel my hands around his throat, crushing the cartilage and smashing the bones, choking off every lying, scheming breath.  I can feel the rage and power hum through my body just thinking about it. Well, you get the picture.

He hates me so damn much, so why doesn’t he kill me and get it over with?  I suspect he has the power to kill another god.  But he doesn’t. He keeps me around because I’m fun to torment.  Lording it over me helps him feel powerful and superior, like he’s still young and virile.  And he loves to play games, the more vicious the better.  Every encounter with Zeus is a contest.  And he’ll use anyone or anything as a pawn in those games.

I should have suspected what I’d see that day.  Zeus never allows me to march right into his inner sanctum.  He enjoys making me rest my boot heels in some garish anteroom where I can watch the scented candles burn down to wax puddles. That day, no one stopped me.

Of course, I already knew he’d abducted Iphicles.  How an enormous eagle had swooped down from the Olympian heights and snatched the king away in front of half of Corinth.  Gee, that was original.  Anybody remember Ganymede?

Thing is, I found out about it two days after it happened.  Whatever else he might be, Zeus isn’t stupid.  He waited ‘til I was halfway across Greece leading a battle before carrying out his little kidnapping.  Fuck, for all I know, Zeus may have started the hostilities.  He knows my devotion to duty.  He should.  He trained me to it.

So by the time I heard about it, my mortal lover had already spent two days in my father’s tender clutches.  Zeus might have already killed him and all I’d find would be a lifeless shell.  So I was pissed off before I even got to Olympus.  Round one to him.

It makes me sick that mortals so often see Zeus as some sort of kindly old geezer, like the father they wish they’d had.  Shows just how stupid most mortals are.  Yeah, he’s good at pretending to be lots of things. But if you look closely, you can see the cruelty and viciousness in his eyes.  And even the stupidest mortal ought to be able to guess at the decadence.  I mean, how many mortals has he raped over the eons?

You know how time turns slippery sometimes, like it’s slowing down? You’d think I’d be able to control it, but it seems to work that way for gods too.  Shit, it still makes my palms sweat to remember it, even now, days later.  I had all the time on Olympus to notice every damn detail. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to forget that picture.

The first thing I realized was that somebody had rearranged the furniture.  Usually, you walk in and you’re face to face with the king of the gods on his throne.  Oh, he doesn’t call it a throne, but that’s what it is.  It forces you to either look up at him or levitate, so you’re immediately at a disadvantage.  Later, I realized that Zeus had rearranged everything so I’d be able to see Iphicles’ face.

At the time, I just took in the rearranged furniture, the heavy, dark wall hangings, the scent of wine and ambrosia, the jewel-toned carpet hiding part of the marble floor.  I saw Zeus, on his throne, dressed in some rich, brocaded fabric.  In those first heartbeats, I didn’t realize that his robe was open, exposing his cock.  Then I saw the naked man kneeling between his legs.  The naked man was Iphicles, and his busy tongue was lapping at my father’s cock and balls like a mortal’s well trained pet dog.  I saw his tongue move, slowly, tenderly. The look on Iphicles’ face was rapture.  I’d never seen him look that way when he was sucking me.

My vision shut down then, as rage consumed me.  Everything was red and pulsing, like the blood pounding through my veins, like the drumbeats echoing in my head.  All of me was poised at the killing edge, ready to fall over it and tear my faithless lover’s head from his body.  Every muscle was primed for destruction.

Something stopped me at that edge.  Gave me enough sense to bite down hard on my tongue so my own blood flooded my mouth.  Yeah, I find the taste of blood soothing.  That harsh, metallic flavor brought me back further, cleared my vision, even focused it so every vicious detail stood out sharply.  I was still more than ready to kill, but my brain was working again, racing furiously.  If I ripped my lover apart in front of him, Zeus would win.  That’s exactly what he wanted me to do. Round two to me.

While I was blinded, I must have moved toward them, because I was suddenly only inches away, with my arm raised for the killing blow.   I lowered my arm slowly, using the time to breathe deeply, to push the rage back into the black pit where it lives.  Iphicles hadn’t reacted to my appearance in any way.  He was still bathing my father’s cock with his eager tongue.

“Son.  How nice to see you!  I guess you heard I brought your little pet here for a visit.  Glad you could join us.”  My father’s face was all smiles.  ‘Til you looked in the eyes, and saw the viciousness he wasn’t bothering to hide.  He thought he’d already won.

Frenzy threatened again.  I can’t begin to describe the depths of my loathing at that moment.  That misbegotten spawn of a Titan knew exactly what he was doing to me.  He’d done it thousands of times before.  Every time I got attached to something -- a toy, a pet, a weapon ­ he’d find some way to use it against me.    Nothing could ever be pure, be mine, just to enjoy.

The only thing that saved me at that moment was my hard-won realization that he always uses my temper against me.  I’m a violent, bad-tempered, impatient son of a god, and he’s the one who made me who I am.   Every encounter, he plays on that rage, fans the temper, hoping that I’ll lose control.  It’s taken me centuries to find even a minute amount.

This time, somehow, I’d keep it together.  I’d play his game and beat him at it.  I’d get us out of there, and with my lover still alive. Whatever Iphicles’ sins, he didn’t deserve to die at Zeus’ hands or suffer one of Zeus’ eternal torments.  I knew he was in that room because of me.  If he was faithless, I’d figure it out and punish him in my own way.  But not here, not in front of the one who called himself my father.

Finally, my mind worked well enough to remember that Zeus is a master of illusion.  He’s always pretending to be someone else.  Especially when he wants to seduce someone.  Think of what he did with Alcmene.  The Furies alone knew what Iphicles was actually seeing.  He might think he was sucking my cock, snug in his royal bedroom in Corinth.  Somehow or other, we’d sort that out later, when I had the stomach for it.

Through all this, I knew Zeus was reading every expression on my face, every twitch of every muscle. Since the first assault hadn’t made me explode, I could see him calculating, seeking the perfect weapon.

“Come to collect your pet, have you?  I wonder why.  I don’t see anything special.”

“Maybe that’s ‘cause you don’t inspire him.”  I was looking for an opening, some way to turn this back on my tormentor.  Insulting his virility, his attractiveness, is usually a good place to start.

“Hmm.  I doubt that.  But just in case, I had Apollo come by and play with him too. “

Everything went black.  Something exploded out of me.  When my vision cleared, I saw the drapes were burning.  My whole body was shaking as I tried to pull back from the edge.  Zeus grinned and waved a hand to put out the fire.

“A second opinion, as it were.  He doesn’t see anything special either. He sucked both of us, and then both of us fucked him.  Of course, he is pretty.  And he does suck cock fairly well.  I wonder if you taught him that, or if he’d already played whore for somebody else.  Hmm?”

I clenched my fists so my nails dug into the palms of my hands.  Think, damn it.  Don’t let him do this to you.  “Maybe he learned it from his mother.  From what I hear, you gave her plenty of practice.”

He flinched.  He covered it well, but I saw it.  Only another god would be able to.  I heard a gasp from off to the side.  That’s when I realized someone else was in the room.  Ganymede, that whore.  His slender, white body was stretched out naked on a low, silk-covered divan, wavy golden hair drifting over the pillows.  He was lying on his side, stroking his own erect cock lovingly.

“Shouldn’t talk to your father that way.  He’s so generous.  He let me have Iphicles too.  I had him suck me, then he fucked my ass.  I think he’s delicious.  He filled me so well, it made Apollo come just to watch us.”

The cunt smiled at me lasciviously, while his thumb stroked over the wet head of his cock.  I hate the pig.  He worships my father’s dick and every lying word that comes out of his mouth, but he’ll spread his cheeks for anyone or anything.

 “You know, since you like to compare notes--” I started.  I figured I should push my advantage while I had a chance.  “Too bad I didn’t go ahead and fuck Alcmene.  Is the mother or the son the better piece of ass, I wonder.”  I looked at Iphicles again.  He had sucked Zeus’ wilted erection into his mouth.  Seeing those lips around that cock made me want to gag.

“How dare you?” Zeus pushed Iphicles away and stood.  Thunder echoed somewhere off in the distance.  Iphicles knelt on the floor, his forehead pressed into the rug and his ass arched high.  “Alcmene was a beautiful, virtuous woman who gave me a son I can be proud of.  You shouldn’t even mention her name in the same sentence with this whore.”

He shoved Iphicles, and I heard his head strike the throne’s wooden base.  He collapsed in a heap.  I hoped he was still breathing.

“Besides, Alcmene wouldn’t give you the time of day.  She liked a man of refinement: skilled, intelligent, mature.”

I saw Iphicles stir, so at least he was still alive.  This was tricky. I had the advantage, and I wanted to press it home.  But not at the cost of further damage to Iphicles.

“You know, the time I dropped by, before she knew who I was, she seemed to be quite taken with me.  Very flirtatious.  Then she found out I was your son.  I wonder whether she thought it would be bad form to fuck both the father and the son or whether remembering you turned her off altogether.”

I could see the rage in my father’s eyes.  I’ve never understood why, but he’s always worshipped the memory of what he had with Alcmene. Using it had gained me the advantage.  Maybe I could use it to get us both out of here.

“I wonder what Alcmene would think if you killed one of her sons.  I know Iphicles wasn’t her favorite, but surely she has some small amount of maternal affection for him.  I’m sure Hades would be happy to pass along the tale.”  That’s one of the good things about Hades.  He hates Zeus almost as much as I do.

“Of course she cared about him.  She was a good woman and a good mother.  You wouldn’t understand.  You have no finer feelings.”

I had him off his game now.  I could care less about my lack of finer feelings.  I smiled so he’d know I’d won that point.  We needed to get out of there soon, though.  The longer I had to leash my anger, the more it threatened to burst free.  I was afraid any little thing would set me off.

My father hissed, and lightning flashed in the room.  Then his face went cold and still.  “Take him.  I’m done with him.  Use him how you will. It doesn’t matter, because every time you look at him, you’ll see me.”

I grabbed Iphicles and got us both out of there before he could change his mind.  When we reached his chambers, Iphicles seemed to be waking from a trance.  He looked at me and then the room as if he wasn’t sure where he was or who I was.  I moved as far away from him as I could. Fury still simmered under my skin, and I’d have to let it out soon.

He staggered a bit, then caught himself and stood upright.  He started to come toward me, worry and confusion on that beautiful face.  I stretched out my arm to keep him at a distance.

“Ares, where are we?”  I could hear the fear in his voice, the uncertainty.

“Don’t ask questions now.  Zeus took you away for a few days.  Show your advisors you’re back, and tell them Zeus wanted to consult with you on the future of Greece.  They’ll love that.  Say as little as possible.”

“But Ares, what happened?”  He moved toward me again.  His hands were trembling.   He wanted reassurance, maybe even a sign of affection from me.   I pushed him away.  I had no comfort to give him.

“I can’t answer you now.  I need to go destroy something, and if I stay here any longer, it could be you.  Just do what I’ve told you.”  With that I vanished.

It’s been several days now.  I don’t know where we go from here.  I haven’t gone to see Iphicles, and I know he’s wondering where I am, what happened.  I can’t see him right now.  Zeus was right.  Every time I think of him, I see him on his knees, sucking and licking at my father’s flesh.  It makes me want to puke.

I don’t know what I had with Iphicles before this happened.  He was more than a pet.  I liked him.   I respected his military and strategic skills, his capacity to rule for the greater glory of Greece.  I loved his body.  I loved to bury myself inside him until we both shot rivers of come.  Something about being with him, after I’d fucked him a few times, made me feel at peace.  Like I’d found a home.

I don’t know where we go from here.  I can’t think of him without reliving that scene. Wrath still surges through my body even though I drained off the worst of it in some nice bloody battles.  I only know that if I hurt him or I never see him again, then Zeus has won.  And I can’t live with that.