Here Be Dragons 26--End
By Roo

Chapter 26

Two Weeks Later


Iphicles nodded at the two young guards flanking the door as he entered his bed chamber. One stared straight ahead at the gray wall in front of him, but the other nodded fractionally, with the hint of a smile. It was an improvement, Iphicles thought, as he closed the door behind him.

It had been two weeks since Aphrodite had deposited him in the center of the castle's courtyard, a scene of complete and utter chaos. People were panicking at rumors of a king-eating dragon, a curse on Corinth, the wrath of the gods, and other far-fetched tales run amuck. Aphrodite had stood in the midst of the turbulence, untouched as always, and placed two fingers in her mouth, emitting an ear-piercing whistle that had caused all activity to cease. She then escorted him to the chambers where his Council met and waved him a cheerful goodbye as his advisors looked on with expressions ranging from relief to fear to outright unhappiness.

The past few weeks had been interesting, to say the least. The return of the king had coincided with the end of the rain, the first sign of the sun in months, and many had taken this as a sign. The ground was drying, becoming solid once more instead of the sodden bog it had been for what seemed to be forever. People were venturing outside, blinking, reveling in the newfound warmth and light. Color was returning to the world, and life was returning to Corinth.

The king walked to the fireplace, watching the cheerful flames jumping, their light reflecting warmly off the gold pieces he had arranged decoratively through the room. He no longer thought of it as a hoard, of course. He just happened to like the way it glowed in the firelight. Nevertheless, it was difficult sometimes to keep his more dragon-like traits reined in. For dinner he had eaten roast chicken in the dining room, surrounded by courtiers and visiting dignitaries, and he had wished desperately for a nice, bloody sandshark steak. He had drifted off, remembering the taste of fresh, salty blood, the liquid exploding in his mouth as he severed an artery, the crunch of bones, and as he remembered, he felt his form beginning to shift, and it had taken a deliberate act of will to reverse the process. Luckily the room hadn't been very well lit and no one noticed.

Picking up a long sliver of wood, Iphicles walked through the room, carefully lighting every candle, every lamp. While he wanted nothing more than to lie on his bed in the dark, staring at the ceiling, he had made a ritual of forcing himself to stay in the well-lit room and read or write, to do anything but sit and brood. Brooding and dreaming hadn't helped him in the recent past; in fact, it had just made him wallow in self-pity, made him do nothing but react to the shit thrown at him by the Fates and the gods.

The gods. Damn. He didn't want to think about the gods, about their meddling and interfering. Thinking about the gods made him think of his last encounter with Hercules, which had left him shaking with rage, choking on his anger, furious at this final rejection. It made him remember his last encounter with Ares, which invariably led to more pressing matters.

Shit. It was too late. He couldn't help but close his eyes, remembering the god's flushed face, the way his eyes had glazed over, the scent of his arousal. Shaking his head, Iphicles opened his eyes. He refused to think about Ares any more. The god was a lousy lay, which was probably why Hercules wanted to forget their fling. He looked good, but he wasn't exactly into the reciprocity thing in bed.

Iphicles sighed. No, rationalization wasn't going to work tonight. His cock was hard and throbbing, and his mind insisted on showing him images of a naked Ares. Better to take care of the matter, instead of trying to convince himself that he wasn't desperately horny when he obviously was. He really needed to find a lover, someone to talk to, someone to hold, someone to spend long nights in bed with. Someone who wasn't Hercules or Ares. He wondered, with a quick grin, if Iolaus would be willing.

Of course, willing or not, Iolaus wasn't here. No one was here, no one but himself.

Iphicles crossed the room, opening a battered chest that sat at the foot of his bed. He lifted a worn and faded yellow blanket from the top, woven long ago by his mother, and set it aside. Under it lay his old and battered sword, the one he had used for years as a mercenary, the first decent sword he had been able to afford. The sword was placed on top of the blanket, its leather scabbard nicked and gouged, but still supple and clean from regular care. In the bottom corner of the chest was a small, plain wooden box, a long ago gift from a long ago lover.

The king opened the box slowly, removing the smooth wooden phallus that lay within. He had been shocked when his lover gave it to him, but the shock had quickly passed as he learned what could be done with his new toy. Setting the phallus on the small table next to his bed, Iphicles carefully removed his clothes, deliberately taking his time, folding them precisely and setting them on a chair. He had plenty of time.

Iphicles turned back the covers of his bed, lying on the clean silk sheets. They were new, one of the luxuries he now allowed himself. He was discovering a newfound sensuality, and he didn't know if it was part of his dual nature, part of his dragon half, or a part of himself that had been repressed in the past.

It didn't matter. What mattered was the way the smooth, cool silk slid against his skin, the material soft and pliant, caressing his body like water, like waves rippling against his back, his legs, his shoulders. He trembled in anticipation, but sternly reminded himself that there was no reason to rush. The past few weeks had shown him that his senses, even in human form, were heightened and changed, and there was so much yet to discover, so many intriguing possibilities to explore.

Closing his eyes, Iphicles began to stroke his body slowly, languorously. He ran the very tips of his fingers over his skin lightly as a breeze, caressing his chest, his abdomen, his inner thighs, teasing himself, feeling his breath deepen, his heart beat faster. He imagined a lover in the room with him. His lover would lie on the bed, sprawled between Iphicles' spread legs, looking up at him with burning black eyes.

Iphicles extended his tongue and licked his index finger, wetting it thoroughly before reaching down and running it gently along the underside of his aching cock. With his eyes closed, he could pretend it was the tip of his lover's tongue, licking him, teasing him deliberately, trying to drive him into a frenzy.

He squirmed, the liquid silk allowing him to slide effortlessly on the bed as he spread his legs further. This time he sucked two fingers into his mouth and ran them along his hard shaft, imagining it was the swipe of a hot, wet tongue. Without opening his eyes, Iphicles reached for the table beside the bed, quickly finding and uncorking the small bottle sitting on the edge. He slowly trickled some of the oil onto his cock, gasping as the cold liquid left trails on his hot skin. He swept the oil around the head with one finger, then firmly grasped the base and stroked upward, coating the shaft with slippery oil, his hips thrusting upward into the warmth and tightness of his fist.

Iphicles' breathing became ragged as he thrust faster, tightening his fingers, rubbing his thumb over the head of his cock with each upward stroke as he moaned, tossing his head as he imagined thrusting into his dream lover. But he could still tell it was his hand, he still needed more stimulation before he could come. His hands were trembling as he fought for control, reaching for the bottle and the phallus. He poured oil onto the smooth, dark wood, rubbing it slightly as he lifted his hips, then desperately shoved a pillow under himself before he reached down and pressed the tip of the phallus against the opening to his body.

He moved the phallus in slow, lazy circles, sometimes pushing enough for the tip to barely penetrate, other times just teasing the sensitive skin under his balls. He bit his lower lip, suppressing a whimper, the silk sheets beginning to cling to his body as he sweated, providing friction against his oversensitive skin. He mentally begged his dream lover to fuck him, and heard a mocking, teasing laugh in his mind, a laugh that sounded like it could belong to Ares. But he pressed harder, this time pushing the smooth wood further inside, gasping at the bright stab of pain that quickly faded to pleasure.

Iphicles grew more desperate, arching his back as he slowly pushed the phallus all the way inside his body, pulling it out and shoving it quickly back in, setting a demanding pace, writhing against it, imagining Ares on top of him, inside him, pretending that dark face was above his, the full lips open as the god gasped his own arousal. He impaled himself faster, in a near frenzy, his other hand wrapping itself around his painfully hard cock as he thrust into his fist, the world lost to him. All he knew was his desperate need to come, and he increased the tempo of his thrusts, up into his fingers, down onto the phallus, thighs trembling and aching, finally losing the rhythm as he came, his cock pulsing in his hand, liquid spilling over his fingers and dripping slowly onto his stomach.

Sighing in contentment, Iphicles relaxed into the sticky silk, finally opening his eyes and letting the phallus drop to the floor. The room looked somehow different, dimmer than it had been. He sat up slightly, looking around, trying to pinpoint what was wrong, his muscles tensing again.

There was a sound. Clapping. And Ares stepped out of the shadows, a sardonic smile on his face.

"Quite a show you put on there. When's the next performance? And do you always do a solo act or is audience participation allowed?"

Chapter 27

Iphicles swallowed. He'd fantasized about the god, but to be facing him, especially in such a vulnerable position, well, this wasn't quite what he'd had in mind. He felt his face grow red as he looked at the dark god, with his mocking smile, one large hand suggestively caressing the hilt of his sword.

Fuck him. The heat in his face quickly melted from humiliation into fury. This was his private chamber, and he was sick and tired of the overgrown children who called themselves gods insinuating themselves into his private life without an invitation, without any warning, and without his fucking permission. He stood, trying to gather his dignity as he stared at the arrogant god.

"What the fuck do you want?"

Ares lifted one eyebrow. "Oh, I came here to kill you. But the floor show gave me some other ideas." He slowly ran one thumb in circles over the very tip of the hilt of his sword, his grin widening as his eyes roamed over Iphicles' body, the gaze bordering on possessive, making Iphicles suddenly feel like a slave on the auction block. Anger surged again, nearly choking him, his pulse pounding in his ears, fury making him reckless.

"I'm done being a toy for you gods." He stared into the black eyes, blatantly challenging Ares.

Ares merely chuckled, casually approaching and standing in front of the king. "I think I like you. You've got balls, little half-dragon." His eyes dipped suggestively as he leered. One hand reached out and stroked Iphicles' face, slowly travelling from temple to chin, the action proprietary, insolent. Iphicles leaned into the caress, waiting. Ares smoothed his thumb over the king's lower lip, and Iphicles reached out with his tongue, lapping at the tip, and Ares smiled in triumph, stepping closer, pushing his thumb into Iphicles' mouth.

Iphicles bit him, tasted the hot blood for a moment as Ares stared in shock, ripping his hand away, shaking it, scarlet droplets flying through the air, and Iphicles laughed. The irony of the situation was exquisite. He wanted Ares, fantasized about him, longed for him. But he refused to be a plaything, to be used by the gods ever again. He wanted Ares to want him for himself, not because he was a momentary distraction.

Ares stared blankly at his wounded hand, then looked back at Iphicles, a predatory smile creeping over his face.

"I forgot. You're carnivorous." The god chuckled. "My mistake." He reached out, pulling Iphicles into a kiss that sucked all of the oxygen from his lungs, the hot wet tongue plundering his mouth making his knees turn to liquid, his skin tingling as he felt the supple leather and cold metal studs against his naked body. When Ares finally broke the kiss, Iphicles had to blink to clear the fog from his eyes, to focus on the smirking face just inches from his, close enough that he could feel the god's breath on his face. "And I never make the same mistake twice," Ares whispered in his ear, tongue darting out to lick his neck before he stepped back quickly, out of striking range.

"Good." Iphicles felt the response was inadequate at best, but how was he supposed to think, when the god's lips had seemingly been branded onto his own? Ares' eyes were devouring him again, and Iphicles felt his resolve weakening. What did Ares' motivations matter? What was important was that the god wanted him, and it seemed like a lifetime since Iphicles had felt wanted.

Ares glided closer, eyes fixed upon Iphicles', and the king leaned forward, mesmerized, wanting to feel the god's flesh against his own, wanting another kiss to steal his breath away, wanting to feel wanted, needed. Reaching out with his wounded hand, Ares again traced Iphicles' face from temple to chin, avoiding the mouth, this time leaving a sticky trail of blood to mark the path. His other hand curled around Iphicles' waist, pulling him closer, until Iphicles could feel hard, leather-clad thighs against his own, feel the heat emanating from the god, feel the hardness pressed against his own stiffening cock.

Raising his eyes again to the god's, Iphicles felt even more defenses dissolve. He could see fire in Ares' eyes, a hunger that called out to him, overwhelming him, and he wanted nothing more than to drown in this desire.

Ares moved both arms so that his fingers interlaced with Iphicles', and the king closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the callused palms against his own, the grip that almost hurt, the circle formed by their two bodies. Ares raised their twined arms until they were held straight out, pressing forward until they were chest to chest, and Iphicles opened his eyes to find Ares' intent gaze fixed upon him as he licked his lips, and Iphicles could feel the god's heart beating through the leather of his vest, an answering echo from within himself.

Gazing into the god's face, Iphicles could see the black eyes were dilated with lust, could feel the rapid, warm breath against his cheek, could see the tongue licking the full lower lip as Ares looked at him, making him shiver with anticipation. The god smiled at him, raising their arms above their heads, moving forward to kiss Iphicles. And as the god's tongue snaked into his mouth, sucking his own, Iphicles barely registered the sensation of fingers being released and leather tightly binding his wrists, not until the god pulled back and smirked at him. It was only then that a dazed Iphicles lowered his arms, staring without comprehension for a heartbeat at the thick strip of seamless black leather holding him captive.

Chuckling, Ares stepped back as Iphicles regained enough presence of mind to glare at him, trying to control his breathing, trying to control his body's reactions. But he couldn't control the lust surging through him, couldn't control the fire within his veins that wanted Ares, wanted to feel the god's body against his again, wanted to know how it would feel when Ares pushed into him, filling him, taking him.

"You know, Ares said conversationally, "you're not quite what I expected. I anticipated finding someone much more," he paused, tilting his head to one side, "domesticated. I really had no idea... He trailed off, approaching and running one hand firmly across Iphicles' chest, stopping to tweak one nipple, his smile growing at the king's indrawn breath.

"Fuck you." Oh, now that was a brilliant riposte. Unfortunately, it was the best Iphicles was able to come up with at the moment. He was too confused, too many emotions churning within him to be able to settle upon one, to decide exactly how he felt about the situation. He shivered, caught between anger and lust, unable to determine where one ended and the other began.

The leather binding him was warm, smooth and supple, and he flexed his wrists, tried to twist them, but the strip of material held firm. He could, of course, just change into his dragon form, which would destroy the binding, but at the same time he'd probably destroy his own bed chamber. And he'd have to explain the dragon's presence to the guards. And Ares would probably want to fight again, which would mean knocking out a wall to escape and fly someplace where he had room to maneuver, and he really didn't want to have to keep repairing the castle.

Iphicles sighed, closing his eyes against the truth. Excuses and rationalizations aside, he was very turned on by the situation. This really wasn't good. He didn't want to have anything to do with the damn gods, just wanted them to leave him alone, but he needed Ares like he needed air to breathe. He was losing control of circumstances, losing the anger that had anchored him so tightly to reality, and he was drifting free on an unknown sea.

Opening his eyes, Iphicles looked at Ares, who was standing close, so close, but not quite touching, their bodies separated by only a hair's breadth. The god, perhaps recognizing his acquiescence, perhaps not really caring, reached out, running his fingers across Iphicles' forehead, tracing the ridges of his eyebrows, stroking cheekbones. This time the contact sent sparks through the king's body, sparks that raced straight to his groin, and he felt himself responding to Ares' touch, welcoming it, not caring about the consequences.

Ares' hand moved down, down Iphicles' neck, the roughened palm caressing his jugular, the fingers momentarily tightening around his neck, a brief reminder that the god was both willing and able to kill him with as little thought as stepping on an ant. The danger excited Iphicles, and he felt himself trembling, although he wasn't sure if the trembling was caused by fear or arousal, or some heady mixture of the two.

The god's hand continued to move down Iphicles' body at a slow, deliberate pace as it was joined by a second hand. Fingers spread, both pressed firmly against the king's pectorals, moving in lazy circles but refusing to touch his aching nipples, even as Iphicles arched into the touch, squirming, trying to make the god touch the hard, tingling nubs, desperate for more.

Ares' hands left Iphicles' chest, but he could still feel the phantom fingers continuing to burn their caresses into his skin, leaving a mark that couldn't be seen. He felt motion, as Ares quickly moved behind him, and he felt the god's leather-encased erection pressing into his ass, the cold metal studs on Ares' vest imprinting themselves on his back. The god's arms surrounded him, pulled him into an embrace, and he leaned back, relaxing, sighing softly, feeling safe and cherished, briefly imagining that he was being held by someone who truly cared, who loved him, who would be there for him.

The thought sent another surge of red fury through Iphicles, fire tearing through the haze of warm softness that threatened to pull him down into its comforting embrace. The anger, like a bolt of lightning, was illuminating, revealing. The warmth, the comfort, wasn't real. It was never real. Ares was here for sex, that was all, and Iphicles wouldn't deceive himself ever again.

Rage cleared his mind, and Iphicles pushed backward, against the god, his teeth clenched, muscles tense, as if before a battle, voice rough with lust and bitterness.

"So, are you here to fuck or to cuddle?"

The arms tightened, squeezing, almost painful, as the metal studs began to press into bare skin, tearing slightly, warm drops of blood leaving delicate, meandering trails on flesh.

"I don't do cuddling." Ares' voice was low and menacing.

"Then let's get with the fucking," Iphicles said, needing something hard and violent, something to chase away the warm comfort that still threatened to drown him in its embrace.

The god shoved him roughly, a blow to the small of his back sending Iphicles stumbling forward. Reaching out to break his fall, he remembered his bound hands too late, and twisted frantically, his shoulder striking the chilled stone as he landed on the ground. Shaking his head, Iphicles saw Ares advancing on him, clothing dissolving into a black mist that hovered for a moment before dissipating, leaving the god naked before him.

"Let's do," Ares whispered, reaching down and grabbing Iphicles' bruised shoulder, hauling him to his knees. "Start sucking, little dragon. Let's see if you're as good with this tongue as you are with your other one."

Iphicles kneeled, cold stone chilling his knees and calves, his shoulder throbbing, as he stared at the god's cock in front of his face. Moving forward, he was a hair's breadth away from it when Ares grabbed his chin, tilting his head upward at an angle that sent pain shooting through the base of his skull.

"You even think about biting me and I'll rip out your entrails and feed them to you, understand?"

Blinking back tears of pain, Iphicles tried to nod. The god appeared satisfied, relaxing the hold on the king and staring down, expressionless, waiting.

Leaning forward again, eyes on Ares' face, Iphicles reached out with his tongue, delicately touching the tip of the god's hard cock, tasting the bitter salty musk, the scent filling his nose. Growing bolder, he shuffled closer on his knees, scraping one on the irregular floor, hot scarlet blood oozing onto the frigid gray stone. Reaching up with his bound hands, Iphicles found he was able to caress the god's muscled thighs, first the left, then the right, and he rubbed the leather binding against the wiry black hair on Ares' legs, moving closer and gently following his hands with his tongue. The god sighed and shifted his weight, moving closer to Iphicles, who continued to tease, anger still burning within him, overwhelming even the lust, and especially the sucking black hole of need within his heart.

Looking up, Iphicles saw that Ares' head was thrown back, throat exposed, eyes closed. He was incredibly beautiful, but even so, the aura of danger and menace was almost visible, pulsing below the surface of the god's skin, and part of the king wanted that danger with an intensity that frightened him. He needed to provoke the god, needed to do something, but he wasn't quite sure what yet.

Iphicles gently ran his tongue along the underside of Ares' cock, tasting leather and sweat, salt and musk. Opening his mouth, he began to swallow the large erection, lightly alternating soft suction with short swipes of his tongue, listening to the god above him breathing faster, reveling in the knowledge of his power to evoke a response.

Closing his eyes, Iphicles was lost in sensation. He felt the thick, hard cock sliding sensuously past his lips, felt its smoothness with his tongue, tasted the god's skin, the tangy liquid, listening to the god's ragged breaths, his own heart beating faster and faster. It felt so familiar, so right...

Iphicles' eyes opened as he was slammed back to reality. How many times had he sucked his brother's cock, listening to Hercules' labored breathing above him, watched his brother's length slide past his lips? How many times had he listened to the whispered words of endearment, the lies that fell so easily from Hercules' mouth? How many times had he lapped up the scraps of affection like he lapped the cum from his brother's cock?

This would be different. No memories, no games, no deception. With Hercules, making love had always been intense; warm, loving, gentle. His brother loved to whisper sweet words, to caress, to look deeply into his eyes as they made love slowly, softly. It was full of smiles, touches and glances, strong emotions and feelings of warmth and safety. Illusion and artifice. Lies and manipulations. And Iphicles had had enough of all of them. This was about sex, and he wouldn't forget it.

Looking up at the god above him, the face that looked so much like his own, Iphicles wondered if Hercules had pretended, all those times they had been together, that he was kissing Ares, touching Ares, making love to Ares. And as for the god, whose eyes were still closed, was he imagining that Hercules was sucking his cock, running his tongue along its length? Was he imagining that Hercules was on his knees pleasuring him?

Slowly, deliberately, Iphicles drew back, letting the god's cock slide out of his mouth, hearing the almost silent moan of protest when the tip barely rested on his lower lip, tongue lightly flicking over it. And Iphicles smiled, carefully noting Ares' still-closed eyes, and he turned his head and quickly bit into a fleshy thigh, teeth breaking skin, hot blood flooding his mouth as Ares jumped back, growling, his eyes blazing as he looked down.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

Iphicles continued to smile, licking his lips, blood trickling down his chin. "I wanted to make sure you weren't drifting off on me," he said, trying to look innocent. "Besides, I figured you'd like it a little rough."

Ares stared, nonplussed, before his mouth settled into a snarl. Stepping forward, he stood in front of Iphicles, looking down at the king.

"*I* say when it gets rough, mortal, and don't forget it."

Iphicles shrugged. "Whatever."

He moved forward, reaching again for the god's cock with his tongue, when Ares grabbed his hair, holding it tightly, close to the base of the skull, and the pain made Iphicles' eyes water, but he was glad of it. This would be completely different from sex with their brother. The god began to fuck his mouth roughly, using him, and Iphicles relaxed his jaw, settling back onto his buttocks, trying to make himself comfortable, until Ares released him and stepped back, a strangled whimper escaping him. The god looked as if he had seen something frightening, and Iphicles quickly scanned the room, eyes narrowed, wondering what could shock the God of War. But he saw nothing, and his eyes returned to the god.

Ares was pale, looking at his hands, turning them over as if they had been burned, although there were no visible wounds.

"What?" Iphicles' gaze continued to dart around the room as he peered into dark corners, wondering if they had an invisible audience. At this point he wouldn't be surprised to find that half of Olympus was watching them. Voyeurism appeared to be a god thing.

Ares' breathing was harsh, his chest rising and falling much too quickly, and Iphicles began to worry that the god might be hyperventilating. Assuming, of course, that it was even possible for a god to hyperventilate. But the god remained silent, his eyes focused on something deep within himself.

"Ares?" Iphicles kept his voice pitched low and even, as if he were trying to calm a skittish animal. Which, upon reflection, was exactly what he was trying to do. Ares wasn't human; he was also powerful, dangerous and mercurial. For all he knew this was some sort of test, or even part of a plan on the god's part.

Wincing, Iphicles struggled to his feet, hampered by his bound hands and minor wounds. One foot was numb, tingling from lack of circulation, and straightening his injured knee tore the scab that had been forming, pain blossoming through his leg. He limped toward the god, again twisting his wrists, hoping to free them but succeeding only in rubbing them raw.

As he approached, Iphicles sensed a gathering of power, a vibration of sorts, saw a blurring at the edges of Ares' form, and he somehow knew that the god was about to pull another one of his disappearing acts. The idea filled him with anger and dread; dammit, he wanted Ares so badly, he had been so close, and now the war god was just going to disappear in a blaze of light, leaving him alone with nothing. Again.

Not if he could help it. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Iphicles threw himself at Ares, his shoulder hitting the god's abdomen and sending them both to the ground in a tangle of limbs. Below him, Ares looked up, snarling, glaring, and Iphicles could feel the rapid heartbeat in the god's chest, could smell a scent like ozone and see blue energy coalescing around Ares' form.

"Are you insane?" Ares didn't so much speak the words as growl them, and Iphicles felt oddly pleased at the question. It was one he had asked himself repeatedly, and he could tell that others wondered the same thing; it was nice to have someone spit it out for once instead of tiptoeing around the subject.

"Maybe. I don't really know," Iphicles replied cheerfully, grinning at the god's puzzled expression. "Does it matter?"

Ares continued to stare up at him, eyebrows drawn down in confusion, the slightest hint of perplexity in his eyes making Iphicles' heart pound faster. God or not, he had managed to surprise Ares, something he thought few mortals were capable of doing.

"I suppose not." Ares sounded calmer, and Iphicles could feel the god's breathing becoming more even, slowly returning to normal, his face relaxing, but simultaneously becoming more shuttered. "Why'd you do that?"

Iphicles wanted to desperately to say something meaningful, or perhaps something witty, but he couldn't think of anything but the truth. "I want you," he said, simply. "I want you to fuck me. I want to taste you. I want to feel you, inside me. I want..." he paused, choking on the words that had almost tumbled out of his mouth, the words 'I want you to love me', which surely would have sent Ares far away, or, even worse, caused him to burst out laughing. He settled for lowering his eyes, swallowing around the lump of neediness in his throat, and finishing quietly. "I want you."

Ares merely looked at him, the mere hint of a smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. He appeared to approve of the sentiments, and Iphicles relaxed fractionally, satisfied that the god wasn't going anywhere soon.

His weight rested completely upon Ares, and the sensation of skin upon skin, heat against heat, hard muscle pressed to hard muscle, was reminding the king of exactly what they had been doing when the god decided to put on his bizarre performance. It wasn't love, or friendship, or anything even vaguely warm and safe and comforting. But it was good, and hot and powerful, and it was what Iphicles wanted and needed right now.

Looking deliberately into Ares' eyes, Iphicles licked his lips and slowly began to move one leg, caressing the thigh below him. When Ares made no sound of protest, he lowered his head and began sucking at the god's neck, nibbling gently, as he tasted the coppery blood rising to the surface of the skin. He was rewarded with a low moan, as Ares shifted below him, rubbing their hard cocks together for a brief moment, sending sparks of pleasure through Iphicles. He closed his eyes, choking back a whimper, and heard a low chuckle from below him.

"You're full of surprises, little dragon."

Iphicles' eyes flew open as Ares flipped him onto his back, straddling him, one knee on either side of his shoulders. The god's cock was close, so close, and Iphicles stretched, reaching with his tongue, finally lapping the liquid from the engorged tip. Ares smiled a predatory smile and moved fractionally closer. "Do you want this?" he whispered, and Iphicles nodded desperately, reaching again, this time able to fit the head of Ares' cock in his mouth as he sucked hard, refusing to let it go again.

Ares shifted his weight, slowly feeding his cock into Iphicles' willing mouth. The king sucked and licked, caressing with his tongue, occasionally scraping lightly with his teeth, his gaze never leaving the dark face above him. He wanted, no, needed to remember every detail, every nuance, in case this never happened again. He needed something to hold on to, something that wasn't soft and sweet, but still held this strange intensity.

Ares gazed down at him, their eyes locked together, but Iphicles was unable to interpret the expression on the god's face. He seemed intent, calm, controlled, but Iphicles sensed turbulent emotions behind the bland facade. As he watched, Ares deliberately closed his eyes, shutting Iphicles out, leaving him with a feeling of loss, as if he had missed something important.

The sense of loss grew as Ares withdrew his cock from Iphicles' mouth, rising to his feet and roughly pulling Iphicles up by his bound wrists, standing close enough that Iphicles could feel the heat radiating from his body, like standing next to a blazing fire. The god reached out with both hands, grabbing his head, and pulling him close for another kiss, his hot tongue invading Iphicles' mouth, roughly pushing in and out, setting a rhythm that spoke volumes to Iphicles' cock. He managed a strangled whimper, not sure if he was protesting or asking for more, but Ares continued his assault, giving no quarter, only pulling away when the edges of Iphicles' vision wavered and his lungs begged for air.

Gasping, Iphicles blinked at Ares, noting the smug smirk on the god's face. It provoked a surge of irrational anger, and he leaned forward and returned Ares' kiss, stroking his tongue against Ares', biting gently on the god's lower lip until blood began to ooze, then delicately licking it away with short swipes of his tongue. Ares pulled him closer, the wet tip of his cock leaving a trail of moisture on Iphicles' skin, his hands grasping Iphicles' ass, hard, bruising, making Iphicles moan in need.

Iphicles continued to lick Ares' lip, then his throat, shuddering as one finger thrust between his cheeks and slid inside him, twisting and probing, and he pushed back against it, needing more, moaning when it was withdrawn. Ares' eyes mocked him as the god pushed him backward, sending him stumbling blindly, fighting to keep his balance, until his calves collided with an obstacle and he fell backwards across his bed.

"Much better," Ares purred, "Unless you'd prefer to do this on the floor?"

Iphicles shook his head mutely, allowing the god to position him on the rumpled silk sheets, not protesting as his bound hands were tied to the headboard, moving quickly onto his knees with only a whisper to encourage him. He spread his legs, trembling with a need that was more than physical; it felt like a lifetime since anyone had touched him, had wanted him, and the need for contact overwhelmed even his need for release.

Ares ran his hand possessively down Iphicles' back, tracing the curve of his spine, and Iphicles arched into the touch, wordlessly begging for more. A second hand joined the first, rough skin pressing against the backs of his knees, his inner thighs, moving slowly and deliberately, as if assessing him, searching for flaws.

"You should see yourself." Iphicles jumped as he heard the whisper in his ear, turning his head to find Ares on the bed beside him, watching him, one hand continuing to stroke his body as the other reached for the bottle of oil left standing on the bedside table. "The King of Corinth, brother of the mighty Hercules. And here you are, on your knees, trembling, ready to beg me to fuck you." Anger, which had been smoldering within Iphicles, began to flare again, embers which had been banked bursting into bright, hot flames, and Ares seemed to sense it, his smile growing wider as he continued. He slowly spilled some of the oil onto his cock, caressing himself in long, smooth strokes until his skin glistened angry red and gold in the firelight, and moved behind Iphicles, whispering still.

"You love it, don't you, Iphicles? You like it rough and hard and fast, you like the pain and the anger, the blood and sweat..." He trailed off, and there was a soft grunt, a burning as Iphicles felt the god's cock sliding into his ass. There was pain, and it was good, and there was anger, and it was good. He needed it, the pain, the blood and sweat, the lust and fury. He wanted it, needed it to burn away the weakness within him, the neediness and loneliness that had consumed him, taking over his life.

Ares continued to slide in slowly, burning pain transforming into bright, molten pleasure, the two fusing until Iphicles could no longer tell the difference. He knew only that he burned, hot flames of anger and lust, pleasure and pain all mingling into one bright conflagration. Ares' chest rested against his back, and he could almost feel the god's heart beating, drumming at a furious pace, beads of sweat dripping from Ares onto Iphicles, mingling with his own sweat, both gasping for air, no way of telling who was moaning, who was whimpering, inarticulate noises twisting together into a symphony of desire.

Ares was completely still above him, but Iphicles felt the god's body quiver, small seismic shocks amplified through hot wet flesh. Iphicles gulped air like a drowning man, felt Ares taking slow, careful, measured breaths, the god's chest pressing against his back, sealed skin to skin by sweat and heat.

"Can't believe how hot you are," Ares whispered, breath hot against Iphicles' ear, "you have a gorgeous ass, you know that?" The trembling stopped, and the god began to pull out, leaving Iphicles empty, and he thrust back, hard, as Ares pushed forward, and they found a rhythm somehow, hard and primitive and powerful. Iphicles met each of Ares' thrusts, impaling himself, fighting for supremacy, and it was unclear anymore who was taking and who was being taken.

Sparks danced in front of Iphicles' eyes, and his world narrowed to pure sensation: the sound of Ares' heart beating, his gasps for breath and occasional moans, the droplets of sweat sliding down his hot skin, the hard, hot cock moving inside of him, almost a part of him, and it was simultaneously too much stimulation yet not enough. Until Ares' hand reached around his body, closing around his cock, rough calluses caressing sensitive flesh, and he went flying over the precipice, screaming as he came in Ares' hand. The world almost went dark, but he felt Ares thrust again, then once more, before moaning, choking back a scream and flooding Iphicles with his hot semen.

Sprawled bonelessly on the bed, Iphicles barely noticed when Ares released his bonds. Absently rubbing his wrists, lying on his side facing away from the god, he felt Ares lying behind him, almost close enough to touch, yet not touching. As he drifted off into sleep, he wondered why the god hadn't left yet.

Chapter 28

Outside Amphipolis

Iolaus didn't want to wake up. He hated morning. The entire world was slow and languid in the morning, making it a time of gentle awakenings and soft movements. Except, of course, for Hercules. Hercules awoke before the sun, jumping from bed like there were springs in his ass, able to transition from deep sleep to wide awake with no steps in between. It was disgusting.

But this morning, Iolaus felt a warm body snuggled next to his own, and wondered sleepily why he was awake and Hercules was asleep. Blinking, he raised his head slightly, trying to force bleary eyes to focus.

They were in an average sized room, gray walls messily chinked, sunlight filtering through small holes. Several rough-hewn shelves held bottles and bags, bunches of drying herbs hung from the rafters. The window next to the bed showed the sun high in the sky, countless dust motes dancing in the bright light. Iolaus blinked again, fatalistically rubbing the sleep from his eyes and sitting up, bracing his back against the bed's headboard, which creaked ominously.

The door to the left of the bed opened with a matching creak, and a gray haired man entered. Iolaus shook his head, sweeping away the last of the cobwebs spun by his dreams. He yawned and grinned brightly at the man.

"Morning, Argeus."

"Humph." It was Argeus' customary response. The man looked like he had a lemon stuck in his mouth. His expressions ran the gamut from displeased to aggravated to exasperated, but he was always a sourpuss. Of course, having to deal with Iphicles on a regular basis would give anyone a permanent headache, as far as Iolaus was concerned.

Hercules stirred, and Iolaus turned to watch as the demigod woke up, more slowly than usual. His blue eyes swept the room, resting on Iolaus' face as his mouth turned upward into a smile. Lazily reaching up, Hercules stretched, then his arms swept around Iolaus, bringing his head down for a kiss.

The kiss was broken almost before it began as Argeus cleared his throat. Hercules' head snapped up as he turned bright red, leaving Iolaus to point and laugh at his lover's shyness. Hercules hated public displays of affection, which left him blushing furiously and stammering helplessly.

Argeus made more unhappy noises as he handed Hercules his customary mug of medicine mixed with tea, mumbling and grumbling to himself as he shuffled out the door. Hercules obediently gulped the medicine, making a face as it went down.

"I really, really hate that stuff."

"Yeah, well, it'll make you grow up big and strong."

"Shut up, Iolaus."

Iolaus shrugged and bounced out of bed. He was up, so he might as well start moving.

"You know what today is, don't you?"

Hercules brightened. "Of course I know what it is. I've been counting down the days..." He swung his legs onto the floor, wincing slightly as he stood, trying to avoid putting too much weight on his almost-healed leg. Iolaus had to make a conscious effort not to rush to the demigod's side, knowing it would only make Hercules uncomfortable.

But still, he knew he'd have nightmares for the rest of his life, remembering the day he'd found Hercules, injured and feverish, barely able to recognize him.

Iolaus remembered waiting for Hercules, beginning to worry when his lover hadn't met him at the inn outside of Amphipolis. After waiting for two days, he had begun backtracking, fully expecting to find that Hercules had been delayed while saving an entire village from a monster, or repairing the house of an elderly widow. Instead, he had found that Hercules had fallen, breaking one leg and severely gashing the other, and infection had set in. He had been huddled in a roadside shelter, eyes bright as fever consumed him, shaking and incoherent.

After sending word to Iphicles, Iolaus had been angry when the sullen king hadn't bothered to come help his injured brother, but he was somewhat mollified when Iphicles sent Argeus. While the man lacked any semblance of bedside manner, he was a capable healer, and he had brought Hercules back from the brink. Hercules was slowly regaining his health, and today they were finally going to get back on the road, leaving Argeus and this small crumbling cottage forever.

Hercules was finishing dressing, and Iolaus was carefully packing their belongings into well-worn rucksacks, when the air filled with the scent of flowers and golden sparkles, pink hearts drifting to the floor as Aphrodite appeared in the middle of the room.

"Ewww! What a dump!" She placed her hands on her hips and wrinkled her nose as she surveyed the dusty room. Iolaus tried not to laugh as Hercules gave his sister a patient look.

"Good morning, Aphrodite."

"Hiya Herkie!" Aphrodite continued to stand, wearing a huge grin and very little else.

"Um, was there something you wanted?" Hercules tried again.

"Me? No, I was just, you know, passing through." Aphrodite waved one hand unconvincingly. "Thought I'd drop in and see how you were. Heard you got messed up saving a princess from a monster or something."

Hercules looked at his feet, blushing, as Iolaus tried not to laugh. Once he got past the fear, this would make a great story. Hercules would never live it down.

"No, I just fell and gashed open one leg and broke the other, then I got this infection," he trailed off, shrugging, "it's no big deal."

"Yeah, well, saving a princess woulda been better, but no one listens to me," Aphrodite mumbled, looking peeved.

Iolaus and Hercules exchanged confused looks before giving up. Sometimes Aphrodite just lived in a world of her own.

"So, Aphrodite, how's Hephaestus?" Iolaus broke the awkward silence with the first thing that came to mind. Small talk with the gods wasn't exactly standard for him.

A dreamy look swept across Aphrodite's face, leaving the goddess looking even more vacuous than usual, much to Iolaus' amazement. "Heph's fine. He sends his love, hopes you guys stay out of trouble, the usual stuff."

The silence continued as both men regarded the silent goddess in frank confusion. She looked at both of them strangely, her gaze lingering for a moment on Iolaus' face, and she looked slightly disappointed, although he had no idea why.

"Well," Aphrodite started, "I guess I should go. Later, dudes!" She disappeared with her usual ostentatious show, but Iolaus thought she looked somehow small and sad.

"I wonder what that was all about?" Hercules also looked perplexed, and Iolaus just shrugged his shoulders, trying to shake the feeling that he had let Aphrodite down. It was probably the remnant of a strange dream or something.

"Who knows? No offense Herc, I mean, I know she's your sister and all, but sometimes I think there's just not a whole lot going on upstairs, if you know what I mean."

Hercules smiled. "I know. She may not be the smartest member of my family, but she's the sweetest. I'd take Aphrodite over Ares any day of the week."

"Who wouldn't?" Iolaus paused, lost in thought. "You know, maybe it's a love god thing. You know, like the other Ares."

"You mean the God of Looove?" Hercules managed to do an uncanny impersonation of the alternate Ares' voice, leaving Iolaus shaking with laughter.

"Yeah, him. He's not real bright either. Maybe love gods spend too much time in bed to actually engage their brains, if you know what I mean."

"Maybe." Hercules was still chuckling, and Iolaus had to admit that he'd take the alternate Ares over their own version. Maybe they could work out some sort of a trade. The love god, like Aphrodite, was at least friendly and helpful and...sweet. Thinking of Ares as sweet was strange, but the word fit the love god like a glove.

"You know, maybe we should go visit him, see how he's doing. He's kinda helpless, you know."

Hercules started out the door, sunlight turning his hair bright gold. "That's a good idea. But after I get a little better, okay?"

"Okay." Iolaus picked up the rucksacks and started after Hercules. It was a new day, full of new beginning and new possibilities.


Ares continued to lie in bed, next to his king, watching as the mortal slept. In sleep, his face was unlined and pure, lips softly parted and inviting, cheeks flushed slightly, hair tousled, a few stray copper curls spilling over golden flesh. He had watched, all night, trying to understand why he wanted to stay and watch. It was puzzling, his fascination with this mortal, and it made him uncomfortable, as if he were losing control.

Absently running his fingers through Iphicles' hair, Ares continued to study the king's face. The similarity was striking, and the god was frankly ticked that no one had thought to mention it to him. But the similarity was deeper than just skin and bones, it was more than physical. Something in the king pulled Ares to him. He was like a flame, burning pure and bright, wild and primitive. Ares could feel the anger and lust, pain and resentment within the man, the same emotions that ruled him.

Settling back and running one hand lightly down Iphicles' arm, Ares nodded to himself. He was staying for a while yet, and he would be back. The king would make a powerful ally. His shape shifting abilities, his army, his experience as a soldier, all would make him nearly unbeatable in battle. Who would be fool enough to oppose an army headed by a dragon?

And the simmering anger and resentment would make him a powerful tool to use against Hercules. With a few small pushes, Iphicles could be used easily and willingly. He could wound Hercules in places that Ares could never hope to touch.

Of course, the fact that the mortal was physically beautiful didn't hurt either. It wasn't just that they looked alike, it was more than that. It was more than the smooth muscles and golden skin. He looked like a fire elemental in human form, almost inhuman when possessed by anger and rage. He burned hot and bright, not willing to be passive or to be taken. Iphicles was willing to stand up to the gods, facing them fearlessly. He was strong, stronger than he believed. Yes, his dragon-king would make a powerful ally.

And, as Ares finally laid his head on his pillow, one arm thrown possessively across his lover's chest, he nodded to himself. He was staying because he saw intellectual and strategic advantages in staying and continuing to see Iphicles. It had nothing to do with wanting, nothing to do with needing. It was purely about using.

He didn't realize that he smiled as Iphicles turned over, burrowing his head into his shoulder, returning his embrace.

The End