He stood there pacing. He tried to escape it. But he could not. He saw it every time his eyes closed.
Iphicles. Lying dead on the ground. The crimson pool surrounding the lifeless body.
A small voice in the back of his held told him that Iphicles shouldn’t matter to him. << He was one of hundreds of lovers that you have had. He killed himself for another man. >> But he could not bring himself to listen to that voice. All he could do is pace. He was driving everyone to distraction. No matter where he went, all he did was pace. His family, who normally wanted less than nothing to do with him, was worried. But they did not know how to approach him. Not that he would have noticed. All he saw was Iphicles’ corpse.
"So you missed me."
He spun around, trying to find the source of the voice. That voice sounded so familiar to him.
"You could have loved me. You could have saved me." A body coalesced around the voice.
"I tried to love you, Iphicles! But I couldn’t be with you all the time!"
"You could have loved me. You could have saved me."
"I’m the God of War! I had responsibilities…"
The specter made no motion to show that he had heard the War God. He simply began to fade out, his simple words ringing in the War God’s ears.
"You could have loved me…You could have saved me…"
"NO! Iphicles! Don’t go!" But it was too late. The ghost was gone. He did something that no one would have ever expected him to do. He sank to ground and cried for the first time since the funeral.
"Well, isn’t that cute? The War God, crying like a baby." The ghost of Caesar formed with a smirk on his face.
He looked up. "What do you want from me?"
"I don’t want anything from you. I have already gotten what I’ve wanted."
He looked at the smug ghost before him.
Caesar’s laugh rang in his mind as he rushed the spirit, but he was too late. The ghost was already gone.
* * *
Zeus looked at his buxom daughter. "Take the spell off of him, Aphrodite."
"What spell off who?" She looked at the King of the Gods, confusion all over her face.
"Don’t play dumb with me. You know I mean the spell you put on Ares!"
"I didn’t put any spell on Ares. I haven’t put a spell on him in years!"
"Then why is he acting this way?"
"He loved Iphicles…"
"This has to be a spell! My son never becomes obsessed with mortals!" He was so frustrated
"He didn’t realize the depths of his feelings until the King was dead…"
"We have to help him, he’s been like this for weeks! There hasn’t been anything since that mortal died! No wars, no skirmishes. Even the amount of street violence has decreased in the past weeks! I am getting complaints from Artemis and Demeter about how the excess male population has already begun to affect the mortal’s food sources! There is no one that can do his job like he can! Even if I could bring back Strife, it still would not be enough!"
"Maybe you should talk to Hades into giving Iphicles back so that life could be restored to him. Then make him Immortal, so that this can't happen again." Aphrodite said it quietly, almost too quiet to be heard.
Zeus stared at his daughter. Then he felt the waves of emotion. Sadness. Desperation. Love. Determination. Some part of her would always love Ares, and she wanted him to be happy. Zeus knew that once Aphrodite set her mind to something, she would not quit until it was finished.
The God of the Underworld appeared in a cool, quiet flash of power that made his elder brother shiver.
"Yes, brother." His voice was icy cool. He did not like being summonsed like one of his brother’s brats. He only showed up because he did not want this brother coming to his realm.
"Restore Iphicles to Ares."
"No. As I already told Ares, Iphicles was a suicide, and I will not release a suicide."
"You *will* release Iphicles! The stability of the mortal realm is at stake!"
Hades sneered at his brother. "You expect me to believe that you really care about the mortals? Last time I checked, all you cared was that they were there to spread their legs for you!"
Aphrodite disappeared unnoticed. She did not want to be there when all Tartarus broke loose.
Zeus was ready to shoot a lightening bolt at his brother, but then thought the better of it. "Damn it, Hades! I do not have time to fight with you over this! My son is slowly slipping away, and I will not lose him over one damned mortal!"
"What if Iphicles doesn’t want to be with Ares?"
Zeus stared at his brother, obviously not expecting that question.
"What if Iphicles doesn’t want to be with Ares?"
"What are you talking about?"
Hades sighed, and started to explain. "He killed himself because of love for another mortal. Julius Caesar."
"Since I refused to give Iphicles back to Ares, I did grant him one request."
Hades glared at Zeus for the interruption, but continued, "To put Iphicles with Caesar, so that he might be happy, since he has to remain in Tartarus."
"Okay, so he’s with Caesar. What does this have to do with Iphicles not wanting to go with Ares? He loved Ares, besides, what mortal would pass up the opportunity to be alive again?"
Hades looked at his brother, incredulity written on his face. "You don’t get it, do you?"
Zeus answered with a strained voice. "Get what?"
"Maybe he doesn't want to be with Ares anymore. Maybe he is happy."
"In Tartarus? I doubt it. Damn, it Hades, we have to do *something*!" Zeus’ fists hit the desk hard enough to shatter the wooden furniture.
Hades sighed. "All right, I’ll do this. Ares can visit Iphicles, and make the offer to return to life to live as Ares’ Consort. But Iphicles *must* make the decision alone. If I detect any traces of power on him while he is making his decision, the deal is off, and Iphicles will remain with me, and I will not allow Ares to see him again. Do we have a deal?"
Zeus nodded his head in acquiescence. He knew it was the best deal he would get out his brother.
* * *
It was dark. There was never any light in Tartarus. Why he had expected some, he did not know. Maybe because he couldn’t stand the thought of his king living like this. He walked forward, towards the small cell that Hades had eked out for them. The same part of his mind that reminded him that Iphicles killed himself for Caesar started telling him that Iphicles seemed lucky as far as denizens of Tartarus go. That Iphicles wouldn’t go home with him.
He got several blank looks. Who was this strange man yelling at? He considered blasting the impudent men to ash, but they were already dead. It wouldn’t be any fun. He made it the door of the small room where Hades said he would find his lover.
He took a deep breath and knocked. Nothing.
He took the handle and turned it, opening the door with surprising ease. Then it hit him.
The room was tiny, and it reeked of sex. The clothes that the spirits insisted on wearing littered the floor. His eyes quickly found his lover. He and Caesar were fast asleep on a small bed; bodies entwined so that it was difficult to tell which pair of limbs belonged to whom.
The voice started in again. << He doesn’t love you. Even in death, he is fucking Caesar. >>
"Of course he loves me!"
Bodies began stirring on the bed. Two sleepy heads stared at the War God.
Caesar smiled cruelly. << No doubt he knows how pathetic you have become. >>
"Hello, Ares. Do you talk to yourself often? And do you really have to do it here? We were trying to sleep."
<< Hurt him. Even if he is dead, he can’t treat you like this. You are Ares, God of War! >>
"I was *not* talking to myself. Gods don’t talk to themselves."
Caesar was about to make another snide remark, when Iphicles looked up at Ares and said quietly,
"You could have loved me. You could have saved me."
<< He is doing it again. You have to make him stop it. Do something! >>
Ares stood there, paralyzed. Had Iphicles really come to visit him?
"You could have saved me. But you didn’t. Caesar did. He showed me love. He’s shown me peace and contentment in a place I never thought I would find it."
<< The mortal brainwashed your lover. Hurt them. Make them pay for doing this to you. >>
"What’s the matter Ares? Hurt that you lost your lover to me? I didn’t take much…a little bit of time, some affection…"
Ares snapped, "What would you know about affection?"
"More than you think, Ares, more than you think…" Caesar pulled Iphicles up closer to him. "So tell me, War God, what brings you to Tartarus?"
"I have a proposition for Iphicles."
He winced at the cool tones of his lover. "Come back to me, Iphicles. My father will not only restore your life, but also grant you Immortality. Be my Consort…" His voiced dropped. "I need you Iphicles. I’m sorry I didn’t know sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner…"
Iphicles stared at Caesar, then Ares, saying nothing. He stood up and kissed the War God lightly on the lips. "I loved you, Ares. I always had, and I always will, but you lost your chance. I’m happy with Caesar now. If I go you, I may be happy again, but for how long? How long before you start to neglect me for your battles? How long before you start taking other lovers again?"
"I would never leave you, Iphicles, by Zeus I swear."
Iphicles shook his head. "Don’t lie to me, Ares. We both know it is a lie. You could never stay with me, we’d just both be miserable. I will stay here, in Tartarus, with Caesar."
The refusal hit him like one of Zeus’ lightening bolts.
<< He is giving up the opportunity of true Immortality to stay in Tartarus. How pathetic. You can’t even get a mortal to leave Tartarus… >>
Caesar’s smug expression finally hit him. He had just released a fireball at Caesar’s spirit when a powerful blast sent him careening into the wall.
"Ares! I have been more indulgent about this than I need be. He has made his choice, you will leave my realm now!"
He wanted to stay. To plead Iphicles to return to him. To wipe the smirk off Caesar’s face. But he did not want to mess with the Lord of the Underworld. He left the voices in his mind still taunting him.
* * *
"Do you still miss me, Ares?"
"Of course I do, Iphicles! I love you, Iphicles! If you ever change your mind, tell me. I will make Hades give you your life back. I swear, I will find some way to make him do it! I swear it! I swear it…"
Caesar walked up behind Iphicles and grabbed him possessively, whispering just loud enough for Ares to hear, "That is so sweet, isn’t my love? That even after all that time he still pines after you. But you are happy with me, aren’t you? You love being mine. You love being owned by me."
Iphicles tilted back his head, offering his neck to Caesar’s kiss, hissing "Yesss…"
"Why are you doing this to me! Why do you keep tormenting me? Why do you keep appearing in front of me…?"
"Who are you talking to?" Hercules walked into the small room hidden deep inside of Olympus,
far from anything that Ares could damage, or use to cause damage.
"Because we love seeing you in anguish…feeling so lost…so guilty…" Caesar looked up from Iphicles, blood smeared on his lips from the harsh bite.
"Ares? Can you hear me?" He gently shook his brother.
Ares whispered. "Can’t you see them, brother?"
Iphicles moaned as Caesar’s hands brushed his nipples. "I love seeing you suffer as I have suffered my whole life…"
"See who, Ares?"
"We love to remind you of what you lost because of your selfishness…" Iphicles smiled.
Iphicles’ robe dropped to the floor. Caesar’s hands strayed lower as he spoke. "I love showing you what you could be having right now…"
While placing a hand on his brother’s shoulder, he said gently "Ares…there is no one there…"
"Of course we are here, Ares…Hercules is lying…like he always is…" Caesar kissed his way down Iphicles’ body, hand stroking the former kings’ rapidly hardening cock.
"Of course they are here…in front of me…can’t you hear them little brother?"
"You are so beautiful, my Iphicles…my slut…" Caesar removed his robe, and began to prepare Iphicles’ ass with oil that seemed to appear out of no where.
"There is no one here…They are dead, Ares…"
"Oh Gods, CAESAR!" Iphicles exclaimed as Caesar pushed into him.
As Caesar pushed deeper into Iphicles’ ass, he yelled "Oh, my slut you are so damn tight!"
"How can you say that? They are fucking right in front of us!"
"Fuck me faster, Caesar, please!"
"Anything for my slut…"
Ares tried to turn away from the pairing, but they were always there. "Stop it! You will not fuck my lover in front of me without my permission!"
Caesar reached down to stroke Iphicles’ weeping cock much to Iphicles’ relief. "No, Ares. I will fuck *my* lover when and where I feel like it…"
Hercules made a move to leave. Ares saw this and tried to stop him. "Where are you going Hercules? Stay with me! I am so lonely! I’ve been so lonely since Zeus put me here…"
Iphicles managed to gasp, "You didn’t have to be lonely Ares… you could have had me…"
Hercules dropped his hand. "I wanted to make sure you were okay…I wanted to see if you needed anything…"
"If *he* needs anything? I need to come!" With that being said, Caesar came with a yell into Iphicles’ ass, while he stroked Iphicles to completion.
"I want out of here." Ares looked up at his youngest brother, desperation written on his face.
"I can’t do that Ares, or else you know I would."
Caesar was now fully dressed not a spot to be seen on his robes. "That’s because you still see us!"
"But you are here!"
"I…I have to go, Ares. I will see you in a month." Shame faced, the God of War flashed out of Ares’ cell.
"Please don’t leave me!" His whisper was lost over the roar of Iphicles’ orgasm.
Caesar grinned evilly. "Don’t worry, Ares…we’ll never leave you."
Iphicles smiled at his ex-lover. "We’ll always be with you, Ares…forever…"