Unforgiven Soul 1-18
Part 1: Missing
Hercules slowly opened his eyes.
The sun was warm on his back and there was a light breeze that ruffled his hair slightly. He lay for a moment, composing himself for the day ahead, then, as consciousness slowly returned, realised he was alone.
He raised his head slightly, looking around the clearing, then rolled over and sat up. Puzzled, he got to his feet, dressed swiftly and went down to the nearby river bank to see if Iolaus was fishing or taking a bath.
No hunter to be seen.
He put his hands on his hips, frowning. It was most unlike his lover to leave the camp without saying anything. Perhaps he’d gone hunting and hadn’t wanted to disturb the sleeping demigod.
Still, Hercules could count the times Iolaus had risen before him on the fingers of one finger. He took a deep breath and yelled at the top of his lungs.
The only sound he could hear was the rustling of the trees, the soft gurgle of water and birds singing. Hercules would have been enchanted at the peace if he hadn’t felt so worried. He cast around for a moment, then realised that Iolaus couldn’t have gone hunting. His bow and sword were still there. Perhaps he’d cut himself a spear?
No. No pile of wood shavings nearby. The fishing gear was also intact. Hercules decided he would wait. There had to be an explanation for the hunter’s disappearance and Hercules was worrying heedlessly.
He decided to catch breakfast and bathe at the same time, while he waited for his partner's return.
Dusk stole over the campsite, lengthening the shadows and stilling the birdsong. Hercules gazed into the fire, hypnotised by the dancing flames. Looking into fire always reminded him, now, of the elemental Janus, just as eating the fish he had had for breakfast, lunch and supper reminded him of Klas, Janus' lover, the water spirit who had died so horribly in the fight with Ares over Arges, the Cyclops stone. Once more, his worry for his own lover came to the fore.
He sighed and looked up at the moon. *Stop thinking about that. Iolaus is fine,* he thought to himself.
So why wasn’t the hunter here, by his side, where he belonged? Where was he?
Hercules shut his eyes. Iolaus had been gone too long. It was time to search for him. He concentrated hard, calling a name in his mind.
Within a few short moments there was a flash of light and a sprinkling of love hearts and confetti wafted gently over him. He sighed and brushed the stuff away. His sister had a melodramatic, but messy touch.
The goddess of love stood before him, holding a large cake with candles on it. She wore a smile and nothing else. She looked surprised to find herself stood in the clearing, and glared at the demigod.
“Herc! I was about to give Hephy his birthday present,” she said in annoyed tones, stamping her dainty foot..
Hercules looked away from his naked half sister and blushed; he had to consciously stop his lips from twitching into a smile. "I need your help, ‘Dite. Iolaus is missing."
The goddess sighed. “Can’t this wait? Sweet Cheeks can take care of himself.”
"Normally I would agree, but when I woke up early this morning he was gone, his stuff is still here and it’s nearly night time. I’m worried. Could you have a quick look for him?"
Aphrodite made a ‘hmph’ noise in her throat. “Look. Let me just give this to Hephy, and his... other present, and I’ll get back to you? He can’t have gone far.”
Hercules resisted the urge to grab the cake and pile it into her beautiful face. Couldn’t she see how worried he was? He let out a soft growl of frustration. Sometimes having all these godly relatives was a real pain. They just didn’t understand how mortals could be endangered, had no concept of time being of the essence.
"Dite, please…I thought he meant something to you."
"Bro…he does." Aphrodite’s face softened, as if realising how upset her half brother was. "You know if you are really that strung out about this you could always ask Cupie. I’m sure he’ll look for you. I’ll send him down if you want."
“And it’ll keep him out of my hair. He gets this urge to spy on what Hephy and I do. I’m not putting a show on for him,” the goddess added.
Hercules sighed and this time he did smile. “All right, ‘Dite. For you... and wish Hephaestus a happy birthday for me.”
She grinned brilliantly at him. “Thanks, Herc. I owe you.” The confetti and hearts scattered once more over the clearing, and Aphrodite and her cake disappeared.
Hercules sat, once more staring into the flames. He could feel his eyes closing as they lulled him into sleep. He jerked himself awake and looked up at the constellation he and Iolaus had once, a very long time ago, named ‘Table’
"Where are you, Iolaus. They can’t tell me that you’ve gone off on your own. It’s just not like you."
He wondered if perhaps Ares had his lover. It wouldn’t be the first time, and the war god still bore a grudge against them for helping Janus in his fight, and witnessing his humiliation at the hands of the First and Last.
Why was he thinking so much of those mysterious beings tonight? Was it because going to help them, had been the last time Iolaus had gone somewhere without him? Admittedly, he’d told Hercules where he was going that time, and Hercules had worried, and followed him to Naxos. Iolaus had been furious that his lover was unable to trust him. And, Hercules thought, with good reason.
Maybe they had called for his help again and he hadn’t wanted to get Hercules involved. He knew the jealousy the demigod still held for his deep link to Janus and Klas, even if Hercules never mentioned it. The demigod also knew that the link hadn’t been properly removed - There was another factor involved this time. Klas had died, but his replacement had been Kalios, Iolaus' water spirit son.
Hercules frowned. He had never really got all that straight – how a being that, to all intents and purposes, looked male, but was able to produce offspring. It was weird that Iolaus had a son who was fully grown within moments of his birth, was not even human, and had been sired on another man.
He was jerked out of his thoughts by another flash of light. He started to his feet in reflex, then relaxed as Cupid, the god of war and his nephew appeared.
“Hey, Unc. Mom said you had a problem.” The winged god was never one to take things seriously, but because he had a good relationship with all the other gods, was probably the logical choice to look for Iolaus.
Hercules sat back down. Cupid joined him at the fire and listened as the demigod explained what had happened. As Hercules mentioned his fear that perhaps the First and Last had asked for his help again, Cupid’s hazel eyes grew sad. Hercules remembered that Cupid had fallen deeply in love with Kirok, the element of air, but Kirok had gone back to his partner; and frightened the god of love witless into the bargain.
"He’d tell you," he said at last, after a moments thought. "Iolaus wouldn't let you worry. Perhaps someone else has him. I’ll take a look, but you’ll have to ask mom to ask Ares... even if he is the most likely dude to have him. I haven’t spoken to him since...the labyrinth."
Hercules understood. Cupid had gone through some bad torture at Ares’ hands. The god of war had broken his wings and chained him up, making him watch the multiple rapes he had inflicted on Klas. Cupid had been unable to do anything as Ares tried to destroy the First with the Argesian Stone. It had only been Klas' sacrifice that had saved them. Now Cupid hated his uncle for what he had done. The god of war’s desire for vengeance had almost destroyed the world.
He lifted his head from his memories as he heard the impatient rustle of feathered wings. “Please,” he said quietly. “Please check for me. I need to know no one else has him, before I go to find the First.”
Cupid nodded, and disappeared.
Hercules slept fitfully that night, even worrying in his dreams about what could have happened to Iolaus. The little hunter was an infuriating, talkative man, who sometimes drove the demigod to distraction, but the year he had been without his lover, when Iolaus had been dead, had been the saddest and loneliest of his life. He couldn’t imagine life without him ever again.. it frightened him sometimes how much he loved the blond.
He awoke with a gasp, out of a nightmare that involved Iolaus and Janus, and sat up. His heart raced and his pulse quickened. He wiped the sweat from his face, and then wondered, once more, why that fiery being was so foremost in his mind.
He lay back down and tried to think rationally. He hated losing the way his well-ordered thoughts were jumbled and incoherent - but this was bugging him too much. He would have to find Janus and talk to him. There had to be a reason he couldn’t get him out of his mind.
He was about to lay down and compose himself once more for sleep when the tell-tale flash of light brightened up the clearing and Cupid appeared.
“You still awake?” he asked.
Hercules groaned. “What did you find?”
Cupid shook his head. “Zip, Nada. Zero. No one’s seen him or heard that anyone might have him.”
“Not even Ares?”
Cupid paused and then shook his head. “Everyone I talked to said he’s been closeted away in a sulk for the last year. I wasn’t going to even try seeing him... even if I wanted to.”
“I might have to go see him.” Hercules sighed. He, too, hadn’t spoken to his half brother since their last encounter at the labyrinth.
Cupid looked reluctant, but made an offer anyway. “You want me to come along? I guess I’ll have to face him sometime. Now is a good a time as any other.”
“No. I’ll go... but, if you could find where the First are, I’d be grateful. It’ll save me wandering Greece to find them.”
“They might not be in Greece. You know they wander all over the world in that way-out, living ship of theirs.”
Hercules nodded. “I know that, but somehow I have the feeling they’re here. It’s just a matter of finding them. Look for people talking about the minstrels ‘Tallicus’. That’s who they are in their human forms... though, now Kalios is with them, they might have given it up.”
Cupid let out a long breath. “You know, I think I’d rather talk to Ares than meet Kirok again.”
Hercules reached out and put a reassuring hand on the love god's shoulder. "I know. You don’t have to talk to them - just find them and let me know where they are. I'll take care of the rest."
Part 2 Ares
Ares lounged on his throne, idly listening to the sounds of prayers and pleas of bravery in battle. As far as anyone was concerned, the mighty throne was empty, and had been for a year. It had only been recently that Ares had pulled himself together and gone back to the temple.
He had hidden, far from the eyes of men and god for all that time, humiliated and hurting at what Janus had done to him. Now he was ready to assume his proper duties again, and be the god he was. He had skulked like a child for far too long, alone with his need for vengeance.
He had promised he wouldn’t go near the elementals ever again, but as time passed, he could feel the need to exact revenge coming once more to the front of his mind. Ares began to plot vaguely in his warriors brain, wondering if there would ever be a right time.
He looked up alertly, as his half brother strode into the temple, exerting his authority as a demigod to dismiss the worshippers.
Hercules stood, hand on hips, staring into his brothers eyes, as muttered complaints from unrepentant warriors fluttered around him, about how high and mighty the hero was these days, and didn’t he have anything better to do than rout the people from their prayers.
At last the two were alone.
Ares met the dark blue eyes with his own unwavering gaze. He wouldn’t back down from this man, whatever happened, even though nebulous fear mumbled at him from his stomach. The last time he’d seen Hercules, the demigod had watched him compelled to his knees by a grief stricken fire elemental. That was abasing enough, but then Janus had forced the god to suck his cock in front of them all, preparing to come molten fire down Ares’ throat and kill him in the most terrible way imaginable.
The strain in the air was palpable, but Ares refused to break it. He continued to stare at Hercules, silent and brooding.
It seemed Hercules had enough of the mental power play and approached the throne.
“Do you have Iolaus?” he asked.
Ares considered this. Did he have Iolaus?
“Once,” he replied, adding a touch of gloating to his voice.
Hercules' eyes narrowed. “That isn’t what I mean, and you know it.”
“You want to know if I’m holding your pet fuck toy prisoner?” Ares asked with as much nonchalance as possible.
Hercules gritted his teeth. Ares could almost hear them grinding together. “Yes. Do you have him?”
Ares shook his head. “If I did, I’d let you know about it... by sending him back to you... piece by bloody piece.” He relished the words as he spoke them, entertaining for a brief moment the thought of fucking that golden flesh, then ripping him apart and posting the parts to Hercules... first his cock, then his balls.. then...
“Do you know where he might be?” Hercules interrupted the war gods train of thought.
“How the fuck should I know? Gods, Hercules. You’re always losing the little bastard. You should keep him on one of Hephaestus’ chains.” Ares started to grow angry. “Perhaps that fiery fuck-head Janus has him. He seems to like sticking it to him.”
Hercules' lips tightened and once more he folded his arms defensively across his chest.
Ares suddenly was struck by an idea. Time to play nice... or as nice as he got anyway.
“No, Hercules. I don’t have him, but... I owe him one. I’ll help you look for him if you want?” Oh yes. Just the right amount of grudging acquiescence, but he could see Hercules wasn’t impressed by his apparent honesty.
“Why the sudden change?” Hercules asked, his voice suspicious.
Ares took a deep breath and set his mind on sincerity. “Look. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be an ex-god,” he said. “He pleaded for my life.”
Hercules blinked and his gaze went inwards as he remembered.
Ares, too, remembered Iolaus, holding the body of the water elemental in his arms, pleading with Janus not to kill Ares. It wasn’t what his dead lover wanted. His simple words and the way he had held Klas' body close, seemed to have brought Janus to his senses, and he had let Ares live.
“All right,” the demigod said at last. “I could use your help. I have the feeling something’s very wrong here.... but I need to talk to the First and Last. Remember your promise?”
Ares smiled wolfishly. “How could I ever forget?”
Part 3 Cupid's Request
Cupid searched. He followed rumours and trailed after village gossip. He hadn’t had so much fun in aeons, listening to old women gossiping about lovers, telling the dirty to their neighbours. He lingered invisibly at windows, listening to soft murmurs of speech, and sometimes, the gasps and cries of lovemaking. Those, he had to watch, a dreamy smile on his face. He liked to know that his worshippers bowed so often at his feet without even realising it.
Before he knew it, the news he’d heard about the whereabouts of the beings he sought had headed him toward Corinth, and there, he saw the huge stage area the minstrels used, being set up by employed workers from the town.
Cupid was about to leave, and go back to Hercules, when he saw a familiar figure come into view from behind the stage. He stopped, not wanting to see the being he loved, but unable to stop himself watching and remembering.
The small elemental in human form, dressed in loose flowing black silks, moved quickly across the courtyard, talking to someone who had to hasten his pace to keep up. Kirok didn't so much walk as glide, his waist length black curls drifting around his beautiful face in a soft wind... a wind that could be felt by no one in the totally still, sultry air.
As he approached, unaware of the watching god, Cupid heard his voice, soft as always - an almost sibilant whisper, like the wind through long grass.
“I’ll have to ask King Iphicles. I’m sure he’ll let your men in. I’ll ask as a special favour,” he said.
The man bowed briefly and left Kirok, who promptly turned and entered the castle.
Cupid followed, his heart breaking. All the love he thought he had forgotten about and put aside returned full force. He could actually feel the small elemental deep in his soul, and thought back to the time they'd made love in the air. A wonderful, hot, passionate time, one he tried to forget, but was unable to. Why had he consented to Hercules request? It only hurt him.
Kirok walked towards the throne room. As he approached the large double doors, they swung aside of their own accord, making the guards either side of the entrance blink and stare at the girlish figure, but not challenge him.
“Kirok! Welcome.” Iphicles, King of Corinth, and Hercules' half brother, had been lounging on his throne looking bored, but now he sat upright, a smile on his handsome face. He stood up and walked swiftly to the man, holding out his hand. Kirok clasped it briefly.
“I thought I was going to have to come down to speak to you guys,” Iphicles said.
“Sorry we didn’t make our compliments earlier,” Kirok said. “We were busy. Jason has been ill, and we were... taking him to a healer.”
Cupid heard the lie in Kirok's breathy voice.
“If he needs anything...” Iphicles started.
“Thanks, but he’s fine now.”
Iphicles smiled, his face filled with genuine pleasure. “Are you going to stay here? You know I always enjoy your visits and I haven’t seen you guys for a very long time... must be a year or so. How is Janus, and... Klas?”
“Janus is, as usual, his normal angry self, but... Klas was killed a year ago.”
Iphicles suddenly looked pale and he froze in shock. “Killed? He’s dead? How?”
Kirok shrugged. “It’s a long story.”
Cupid was surprised to see tears in Iphicles’ eyes. Come to think of it, he seemed rather too shocked about Klas' death than a casual friend would be. What had gone on between the little water spirit and the king?
“I’m so sorry,” Iphicles whispered, touching Kirok's shoulder. “So, there’s only three of you now?”
“No. We asked... Klas'... twin brother, Kalios to join us.”
Yet another lie.
Iphicles nodded. “Well... you’re all welcome to stay.” He reinforced his offer.
Kirok nodded and bowed deeply and gracefully. “Thank you. We accept.”
He abruptly turned and left the king. Cupid smiled at the look on Iphicles’ face. Kirok, and indeed all of the elementals sometimes forgot the niceties of human interaction. He followed Kirok out of the door, which once again opened and closed with no human hand touching them, and down the large echoing corridor that led to the castle gates.
“Ok, Cupid. What do you want?”
Cupid jumped in surprise. Kirok could see him?
The air spirit faced him, his black eyes boring into Cupid’s own. Cupid cleared his throat and smiled at his beautiful ex lover.
“Kirok... I didn’t realise you could see me... I ...”
The man folded his arms and tapped a foot impatiently. “I don’t have time for this. Were you spying on me?” he asked shortly.
“No... I was... I mean, well, yes I was, but not... Shit. Hercules asked me to look for you.”
The spirit stared silently at Cupid, as if trying to catch him in a lie.
“Iolaus has gone missing. None of the other gods have him. He hoped, as they helped you out before, you could return the favour and help him find the guy.”
Kirok considered for only a moment, then he began to walk back to the stage, an aloof figure, untouchable by anyone, even the love god. “Tell him to come,” he said shortly.
Cupid got the idea he’d been dismissed, and disappeared back to where Hercules was staying, to inform the demigod that the elementals would help him.
Part 4 Elementary, My Dear Janus.
“You did WHAT?!” came a roar of fury.
Kirok didn’t even blink. “He needs our help. We can’t turn him down. He and Iolaus have helped us out enough times.”
Janus paced in the small backstage area, his movements jerky, his golden hair flying around him.
“We can’t do it right now. You know we can’t. Jason’s been sick... He can’t...”
“Don’t mind me,” Jason said, from his place perched on top of one of the huge conch shells that they used to amplify their sound. “Kirok's right. We have to help them.”
Janus glared at Kirok's partner. “You don’t have the strength. You know I even wanted to cancel this show? After the last one you looked awful.”
“I’m fine,” Jason insisted.
“Janus. Let it lie,” came a soft voice. Janus' lover spoke up at last.
Kirok had forgotten that Kal was there. Kalios was identical to Klas, their dead fourth member, except perhaps the hair, and a tendency to lapse into long periods of quiet. Kirok absently remembered with a fond smile, that if there had been silence, then Klas would have to fill it with the sound of his voice. He was always on the move, incessantly talking, forever restless - like his element of water. This newcomer didn’t feel the need.
The air elemental wondered if it was because he had been corporeal for less time, and had been born of another being, rather than created out of the earth force as he, Janus and Jason had been.
“Anyone would think that you didn’t want to help them,” Kal said, going to his man and leaning against him, stroking his arm gently.
Janus' eyes lightened up a little at the tender caress, and he smiled down at the tiny man. “I do, but I’m just worried about what’s making Jason sick.”
“It’s humans,” Jason said quietly. “They infest the earth and take what they need. They don’t give anything in return.” His voice was dull, devoid of life, and Kirok eyed him worriedly. He went to Jason and squeezed his shoulder.
“One day they’ll learn.”
“In the meantime, Jase gets weaker and weaker,” Janus growled. “Why should we put up with this?”
“We don’t interfere,” Kirok said firmly.
“Exactly, so if a human goes missing, we shouldn’t have to look for him – whoever he is.”
“He’s part of us!” Kal said, his voice raising a little. “Not only has he been linked to you, but he’s my father too. We have to help.”
Janus sat down and pulled his lover close, stroking his hands through the wheaten mix of braids and wavy hair. “I’m sorry. I forgot,” he whispered.
“I’ve told Hercules to come,” Kirok said firmly, exerting his little-used authority as the oldest of the small group. “So the point is moot. He will come and we will do our best to help him.” He glared at Janus.
Janus sighed and nodded. “Ok, fine. Just don’t expect me to like it. I’ve got a nasty feeling about this, and I don’t want to go through anything like what happened before.” He looked down at Kal. “Do you see anything... in the future?”
Kal shook his head. “ You know I don’t have that ability. I think it’s because I’m partly human,” he said. “I’m sorry. I guess we need it right now.”
Kirok picked up the strange lute he used to enchant the hundreds of people who came to see their shows. “Come on. Let’s get this over with, before Jase falls over.”
The band armed themselves with their respective instruments and went on stage.
Hercules was restless. Cupid hadn’t yet come back and Ares was off on some war or other, but had promised he would return as soon as possible. The demigod was staying in an inn in a small village near where Iolaus had disappeared, and every now and then, he returned to the clearing to search for his lover.
He would call his name for hours, getting nothing back but the sounds of nature around him. He called until his voice was hoarse, then go back to the inn, feeling more depressed than before. He hoped Cupid would be able to find the elementals soon. He could feel dread overcoming him, blackening his soul, just like the time Iolaus had been killed by Dahak.
The innkeeper was a friendly soul, who seemed to sense Hercules' sadness and jollied him along, trying to get him to come down to have a drink and mix with the villagers, rather than skulk in his room. Hercules finally decided to do just that, just to shut the guy up.
He was sat alone at a table, quietly watching two pretty serving girls putting on an impromptu dance for the benefit of their appreciative customers, when there was a flash of light beside him. He looked up and batted away the love hearts and little arrows that showered around him.
“Do you have to do that?” he complained.
Drinkers nearby caught the sight of the demigod waving his hand in front of his face and talking to him self and looked at each other, shaking their heads. It seemed the big guy was so upset at the loss of his friend that he was slowly going mad.
Hercules observed their sympathetic faces and got up abruptly, dragging the love god with him outside the inn.
“Well?” he demanded.
“I saw Kirok. He said they’d help.”
“Where are they?”
“In Corinth. They’re staying with your bro, Iphicles.”
“That’s handy,” Hercules remarked. He grabbed the god by his leather harness and took him up to his room.
“Stop hauling me around like I was a carry sack!” Cupid complained, as the demigod started packing up his belongings.
“I have to tell you... Ares told me he’d help me,” Hercules said, not looking at his nephew.
“What? Ares? Are you fucking mad? You know you can’t trust him,” Cupid yelled.
“I need all the help I can get,” Hercules said stubbornly. “I don’t know where Iolaus is, but I have the feeling there’s more to this than meets the eye.”
“You’re fucking right, there, Uncle Herc, but Ares...?”
Hercules stopped packing and looked up at the winged god. “You don’t have to come with us. You’ve already been a great help. You don’t need to do anymore.”
“Are you kidding? Someone has to keep an eye on that snake.”
Hercules smiled. “And of course there’s Kirok.”
Cupid’s face grew angry. “There’s nothing between us now. He made sure of that when he showed me what he was, and what I would become if I joined them.”
Hercules stood up from his bent position, and shut the carry sack he had finished packing. “But you wish there was, don’t you?” he said, feeling sympathy for the lovelorn god.
Cupid was silent for a moment, then nodded. “I still love him. I thought I was over it, but seeing him today, remembering how we made love in the sky and on the ground... I can’t get him out of my mind.”
Hercules slapped Cupid on the arm. “Love god, heal thyself,” he said, and walked out of the room.
Part 5 The Corinthian King.
"Hercules!" Iphicles’ voice was coloured with pleasure at seeing his brother once more. "Long time no see. What have I done to deserve this visit?"
Hercules looked shifty and tried to smile at the king. "Well... to be honest, I’m looking for ‘Tallicus’," he said, clasping arms with his brother and clapping him on the shoulder.
Iphicles’ face fell a little. "Oh? I thought you’d come to relieve me of boredom."
"Iph, it’s great to see you, but Iolaus is missing The guys are the only people that can help me."
Iphicles looked puzzled. "’Tallicus? How can they help you? Play a ransom show or something?"
Hercules thought about this for a moment. His brother didn’t know about the supposed minstrel's special attributes. He was interrupted in his thoughts by a flash of light, and the sight of Iphicles’ face paling a little.
"Ares," The king stammered, then his face flushed.
Hercules looked between his brothers, frowning. He could see the tension there and wondered how or why that had happened.
"Hello, Iphicles," Ares said quietly.
The Corinthian king didn’t take his eyes off the god, but he addressed Hercules. "The guys are in the guest wing. Why don’t you go and look for them?"
Hercules suddenly felt like he was unwanted. "Oh... uh… Ok... I’ll… uh..." he turned and walked away, still puzzled.
Ares eyed the king, his former lover. Iphicles looked pensive, and his eyes said ‘we need to talk’ The god wasn’t sure if he wanted to talk. He was a god, not one of these
weak humans who needed to sit there and talk their feelings out. As far he was concerned, Iphicles was a great fuck and nothing more, but, looking at that sculpted profile and running his eyes down the muscular chest, Ares decided that it might be worth renewing their acquaintance after all.
He tried to remember the last time he had spoken to the king of Corinth, and found it had been too long.
Damn! Once again it had been those fucking elementals that had been the cause of their fall out. Iphicles, in a fit of pique, had slept with Klas, the water spirit, Ares had found out and had felt wildly jealous – vowing to kill the little man.
He hadn’t realised just who these guys were at the time. It had only been when Janus and the others had stormed his temple, nearly killed him and brought the temple to the ground with their strange powers that he had realised they weren’t just a bunch of wandering musicians. From then on, his only thoughts had been how to destroy them. He had forgotten about Iph in his search for vengeance.
He had managed, in a round about way, to kill the, admittedly sensual, little spirit. Now he had to work on the other three. He could see this was going to be difficult. They wouldn’t trust him in the slightest – but he knew they liked and trusted Iphicles.
*Hmmm. Perhaps this might come in handy after all.*
All this ran through his head as he watched the king. Iphicles was now pacing, waiting for the god to say something... anything.
Ares knew this drove Iph nuts, him not talking, just standing there, being all godly. He folded his arms and waited.
At last he was rewarded. Iphicles turned on his heel and spun to face the waiting god of war.
“So what are you doing here after... what is it? Three years?” he burst out. “Isn’t that rather a long time to hold a grudge against me sleeping with Klas?”
Ares smiled slightly, and hid the smile with his hand across his mouth. Same Iphicles... always impatient, always brooding.
“I’m helping out my brother,” he said.
“Herc? But you two hate each other!”
“I owe him and Iolaus a few favours,” Ares said ambiguously.
Iphicles narrowed his eyes at the god. “So what’s in it for you?” he asked.
“Nothing. I’m feeling generous. There’s only one problem.”
Iph raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“Those.... uh... guys that are going to help Hercules. We had a small problem a year or so back. They don’t trust me, but all I want to do is help.”
Iphicles snorted. “No one in their right mind trusts you. I say they have their heads screwed on right.”
Ares swore under his breath. This didn’t seem to be going the way he wanted – execute plan B. He moved forward, turning on his ‘come to bed’ look and smiling seductively at his ex lover. “Come now, Iphy,” he wheedled. “You know I’m not the treacherous type. Can’t you put a good word in for me? All I want to do is help my little brother.” He stroked down Iphicles’ cheek and moved closer, letting his crotch rub up against the king’s.
Iphicles flushed and melted into the god of war’s arms.
“You know I will,” he mumbled, nibbling tantalising little kisses over Ares' ready lips.
Ares was tempted to take the king there and then in the middle of his throne room. Gods, he had missed this horny human. He sternly ordered his cock to behave. He had business to take care of first. He pushed Iphicles away slightly, but gave him a promise of ‘later’ with his eyes.
“I have to go and see them... Do you think you could come with me? I need them to trust me from the very start.”
“You know I will,” breathed Iph into his ear.
By Zeus, this was almost too simple.
Hercules could hear Janus' ever-angry voice as he approached the guest suite. He stopped to listen for a moment, intrigued with what these beings talked about when they weren’t masquerading as human.
"I don't like this. I don’t understand why Jason should be so ill."
"He already told you. It’s the humans," came Kirok's soft, placating whisper.
"But why the fuck should they affect him like this? We know it’s going to get worse. How can he be so weak with so few humans on the earth?" Janus argued.
"Ares, perhaps?" The melodious tones of Kalios suggested.
"He wouldn’t dare," Janus growled. "He knows what I’d do to him if he interfered."
"A thirst for vengeance is a powerful emotion, even for gods," said Kirok. "He’d kill us if he could."
"But he promised," a quiet, weak voice said. Hercules realised the pained voice was Jason. The earth spirit sounded nothing like his usual stony self.
"He’s an Olympian. He won’t keep his promise. They never do," Janus said.
Hercules had enough of listening to the men debate and knocked on the door. The door opened and he saw the four beings stood in the middle of the room in a loose circle.
“Hello, Hercules. I was starting to wonder if you were going to eavesdrop on us for much longer, or make yourself known,” Kirok said softly.
Hercules groaned inwardly. He’d forgotten that nothing got past the air elemental.
Part 6 Taken from Earth...
A solitary figure walked out of the void, drawing aside the fabric of being as if it was a window curtained from the sun. He was dressed in flowing white, his gold breastplate the only point of colour, even his hair was colourless.
He raised his arms and began to chant in a rich voice that rumbled over the lonely hills, echoing back to him in a blast of wind.
“E Terra extraxit. Renoavit completum que facitur. Donec Bellum Primum et Extremum accipiet.”
Light blazed between his hands and a tablet of stone materialised above him, dropping abruptly out of the sky into his grasp.
He pointed at the ground and a bolt of lightning shot from his finger and buried itself into the earth leaving a gaping hole. He placed the tablet into the hole and covered it up with a single scoop. He got to his feet and closed his eyes.
There was another flash of light and the hills were once more left alone, guarding their terrible secret.
Part 7 Truths and Lies
"Herc! Great to see you again. We heard Iolaus was.... ahhhhh."
Jason crumpled where he stood and fell to his knees clutching his stomach. Immediately Kirok was there, helping him to stand. The pain in Jason’s face was almost tangible. Hercules leaned forward in concern, and helped Kirok with his partner. Jason staggered again and Hercules took matters into his own hands. He swept the earth spirit into his arms and put him on the bed.
"What’s wrong with him? It seems worse this time," came Kal’s worried voice.
Hercules brushed a hand over Jason’s face, feeling how hot he was. If the guy was human, he’d say he had a bad fever, but these beings were not human by any stretch of the imagination, and he didn’t have the foggiest idea what was wrong.
"I heard you say he’s been ill," Hercules said, wondering if he dare try to cool the elemental down with water. He knew that water could be dangerous for Janus but had no idea about the others.
"Yes. It started a few days ago. He’s been weakening rapidly. We even had to cut one of our shows short. We don’t know what’s wrong with him, but he seems to think it’s something to do with humans and the earth force," Kirok said.
"I think that’s a pile of shit," Janus said in his crude fashion. "If it was the earth force, we’d all be feeling it."
"Not if it was just beginning, he would feel it before us," Kirok argued.
"Look... Can you fight about this later?" Hercules started. "He’s got a fever, and I have no idea how to cool him down. Will water..."
He stopped as Kirok started to glow slightly and held his hands over Jason. He could feel a soft breeze in the air, and the feeling of pressure from all around him, as if energy was being taken out of everything, including himself. Kirok gathered the power in his hands in the form of a ball of light then with an abrupt movement, forced it downwards. The light exploded from his hand hit Jason full in the chest then dissipated as if it had never been.
The earth spirit breathed a little easier, and when the demigod touched his face, it was cooler. He covered the sick elemental up with a sheet, then got up. "Will you need to keep doing that?" he asked Kirok.
The beautiful man shook his head, his eyes shadowed with worry. "I have no idea. I was improvising," he said.
"You look like you have too many of your own problems to be able to consider helping me," Hercules said. "When did you say this happened first?"
"Three days ago," Kirok said. "We were beginning to think it was Ares up to his tricks."
"No. It's not Ares. Believe me, I know. It’s strange, because Iolaus disappeared three days ago... and he’s been linked with you. Do you think there could be a connection?"
The three men looked at each other, then back at Hercules. Janus scowled angrily.
"I don’t know who’s doing this, but when I find him he’s toast!" he said. "If it’s Ares, I’m gonna burn him up so bad you’ll be able to sell his body as charcoal."
"Not a good idea," came a new voice. Ares and Iphicles had just entered the room quietly.
Hercules turned and put a hand over his eyes. Now was not a good time. He feared for his brother’s castle if Ares and Janus tangled with each other right now.
Janus growled low in his throat. "Ares! I should’ve known you’d be..." he started forward, his body starting to blaze into his half human form.... the body that Hercules knew would be detrimental to Ares’ health..
"Janus, hold!" Hercules said, grabbing the fire spirit and pulling him back with difficulty. He’d forgotten how powerful he was, not only that, but grabbing a handful of fire elemental when he was angry was really not a good idea. He shook his hands, trying not to show the pain from his burned skin. The last thing he wanted was his brother finding out about the four men’s interesting peculiarities.
"Ares is on our side this time," the demigod continued "He made a promise and he told me he’ll keep it. He’s going to help us."
Iphicles walked forward. "I know you have no reason to trust him. And I know you are still hurting from Klas' death." The king looked saddened. " Ares and I have talked, and he only wants to help. Iolaus' life may depend on it. You have to trust him."
Janus, ever suspicious, narrowed his blue eyes even further than their usual hate-filled glare. “What’s the catch?” he asked.
“That’s personal,” Ares said before Hercules or Iphicles could say a word. “Let’s just say, I owe him and Iolaus.”
Janus took a deep breath and seemed to calm as Kal went to his side and stroked his long, gold hair. “Be cool,” he whispered. “Don’t lose control.”
Hercules looked from his half brother to the fire spirit. They could be almost the same person, both tall and powerfully built, the same facial hair and dangerous aura, the same unrelieved black leather clothing. The only difference was their colouring - Ares, dark as night, his soul as black as the pit of Tartarus, Janus, golden haired and destructive as his element.... both were unpredictable, full of seething anger and hatred... opposite sides of the same coin. No wonder they hated each other so much - they were so
similar they could almost be twins.
“We’re here to find Iolaus,” he said softly. “And, I think his disappearance and Jason’s illness are linked.”
“Why should my father vanishing have anything to do with us?” Kal asked.
Ares folded his arms and lounged against a wall. “Iolaus is your father?” he asked, his deep voice curious. “I thought you were that water spirit I raped.... I thought you died?”
Hercules grabbed Janus again, as he started forward with a snarl. This time Kirok interrupted. “He is both Klas and Klas' son. I wouldn’t expect you to understand. It seems beyond you gods to understand anything but your own Olympian petty squabbles.” His voice was coolly insulting.
“Now you look here pretty boy...” Ares started. It was Iphicles’ turned to grab the god and pull him back, though his expression was puzzled at Kirok and Ares’ exchange.
Hercules sighed. “Ares. Go poof off somewhere before I have a fight on my hands. Remember what Janus did to you last time? Well if you carry on, I’m not going to let anyone stop him. these guys aren’t held by Zeus’ rules remember?”
Ares backed down a little. “I have to go, anyway,” he said. “I have work to do." He shook a fist at Janus. “I’ll be back, fire creature, and one day you and I are going to have this out mano-a-mano.”
Janus nodded. “Name the time and place, dick. I’ll be there,” he said, his voice flat.
Ares grinned evilly and disappeared with his usual flash of light. Iphicles paused a moment at the door, then gave Hercules an ‘I’ll talk to you later’ look and left.
“I’m not sure I can cope with this,” Hercules moaned softly.
“You and me both,” came Kirok's whispering tones from beside him.
Part 8 Pain Renewed
Kirok turned back to his sick partner and brushed a hand over his face, feeling his skin. “He’s better than he was,” he said. “But this is worrying me. We don’t get sick.”
Hercules, too, felt the sleeping earth spirit’s forehead. Jason seemed a lot cooler and he didn’t seem to be in pain anymore. “Cupid’s pretty good at healing. Perhaps you should get him to have a look at him when he gets here,” he said.
“Cupid?” Kirok's eyes narrowed. “I thought he only came to tell me that you wanted our help. I didn't realise he was involved.”
Hercules opened his mouth to answer when he heard Janus' growl of fury behind him. “That fucking winged cock sucker?” he yelled. “What the fuck is he doing helping us?”
“Janus...” Kirok started, but the fire elemental turned on his heel and walked out of the room.
“Oh fuck!” Kirok and Hercules chorused and ran after him. They both knew he could do some bad damage if he wanted to. They caught up with him in the corridor. Kirok grasped Janus by the shoulder, and pulled him back. Hercules carefully didn’t touch him. His hands still smarted from the last time he’d inadvertently grabbed him.
Janus' eyes were glowing with suppressed power. “I don’t want Cupid involved,” he spat.
“I think we might need his help,” Kirok said softly. “I have a feeling we’re going to need every ally we can get. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“Not him! I’d rather have that fucking war god on our side! At least I know I can’t trust that motherfucker!” Janus' glared down at the smaller man, his blue eyes blazing – literally. Hercules hoped that Kirok could head off any temper tantrums.
“He helped us,” Kirok said. “Remember?”
“He fucking betrayed us! He told Ares who we were and that we were coming... and because Ares was ready for us when we got to the fucking labyrinth, Klas died!” Janus burst out.
“I know.... I know... but you have Kal, now. You and him are joined.” Kirok soothed uselessly.
“You don’t fucking understand, do you?” Janus screamed, his powerful voice making Hercules back off in alarm. “Fifty fucking billion years means nothing to you. You don’t have Jason the same way me and Klas had each other. You’ll never understand what we had. Kal is just a pale imitation.”
Kirok held up a hand, his palm glowing white, as if to ward off the grief stricken elemental. It was like Janus had lost Klas all over again.
"You think I don't know?" Kirok whispered. "I know. I finally had a chance at happiness. Finally found a being I could love... and I had to turn him away. I know what it's like to be with one I don't love... to lay awake at night and wonder what it would be like if..." he stopped, and the watching demigod wondered if he should be there, witnessing the two beings fighting.
Kirok, too, seemed to realise Hercules was still there beside him, and he dropped his hand, the glow fading. "I know what it's like," he said again, his voice a hoarse sob.
Janus let out a low cry and hugged Kirok to his body. The air spirit rested his head for a moment on Janus' chest, then pulled away.
"Come on," he said, regaining his calm composure and addressing Hercules. "We have to go have a talk with Iphicles."
Beneath my wings...
Iphicles brooded and when he’d finished brooding, he brooded some more. He had an idea that things weren’t all they seemed. What was going on here? What had Ares been talking about when he asked Kalios if he was the water elemental he’d raped? Why did he call Janus fire-creature?
The king pulled himself out of his thoughts and looked down at the scroll he was sure he’d read about six times without actually taking in its contents. He had to get on with the work, but something kept pulling him back to the men staying in his guest quarters.
He remembered meeting Kal for the first time, and the shock that had shot through his body when he’d seen him. Obviously he and Klas were identical twins, but... what was that about Iolaus being Kal’s father?
He shook his head, confused, then looked up as he heard a light tap on his office door.
He groaned inwardly as Hercules and Kirok came in. More confusion to add to the fire. He sat back in his chair and played with the quill in his hand as he regarded his half brother.
Hercules leaned against the desk and folded his arms. "I guessed you’d want to talk," he said.
"I'd hoped I made it obvious enough. What was Ares talking about?" Iphicles looked at Kirok. The minstrel was stood quietly in the middle of the room.
"Iphicles, we haven’t been entirely honest with you all this time," Kirok started in his quiet voice.
Iphicles stood up. "Damn right you haven’t. Time to rectify that, don’t you think?"
Kirok shot a look at Hercules, who shrugged. "I think you should just show him," he said.
Iphicles frowned then gasped in utter amazement and shock as Kirok blazed into light, raising his arms then lowering them as he abruptly changed his form, from the beautiful, feminine, dusky man Iphicles was used to, to an incandescent being with huge white wings and a transparent, crystalline body.
Iphicles knees became weak and he found himself sitting in his chair once more. "Fuck me!" he croaked.
"That was kind of my reaction," Hercules commented.
Kirok changed again, back into the more familiar human form.
"Are you a god?" The king asked finally, still agape.
Smiling his ambiguous smile, Kirok shook his head. "An elemental," he said.
Iphicles considered this. Certain things fitting into place at last. He had always suspected that the four men weren’t what they appeared to be. He had felt it when he had made love with Klas, the total connection to the small man, the way Klas had been utterly his for those times they had been together. He’s never had the chance to ask about it, but he had always felt having Klas had been worth risking Ares’ wrath. Another wave of sorrow swept over him, leaving him depressed.
"Let me guess... air?" Iphicles asked at last, fighting off his feelings.
"And, Kal looks watery... Janus must be fire... he couldn’t be anything else....so that means Jase must be earth," Iphicles said finally.
Kirok raised his brows. "I’m impressed," he said. "Not even Hercules, as a demigod knew what we were, right away."
"I’ve heard tales of the spirits of the earth force. I’ve heard about the First and Last... that’s what you are, aren’t you?" Iphicles said.
Kirok just nodded again.
"I get all sorts of wise men and such coming to the castle and telling stories... I never thought they were true... but here you are... and what are you here for?"
Kirok shut his eyes for a moment. "You have to be wary of Ares," he said quietly. "It’s because of him, Klas is dead."
Iphicles scowled. "He didn’t say that."
Hercules snorted. "He wouldn’t."
The king stared at his brother. "You and Ares never got on. How the hell you think you two are going to work on the same team is beyond me. Anyway, you would say that...last thing you want is your family tangled up in this."
"My family already is tangled up," Hercules said. "Iolaus is missing, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s my family too."
"Yeah, above and beyond me," Iphicles sneered.
"I didn't mean that," Hercules snapped. "Stop being so fucking jealous."
"Stop it!" Kirok's normally light voice rapped out. Iphicles and the demigod both looked at him. Kirok walked over to Iphicles and leaned his hands on the desk, moving forward to face the king. Iphicles drew back, not knowing what Kirok was going to do, but Kirok only stared into his eyes, the jet orbs reaching down into Iphicles’ soul.
"I’m here to tell you about what happened with Ares - why you shouldn’t just trust him blindly. What you do with that knowledge is none of my business. I ’m only concerned with finding out why Jason is ill, and getting Iolaus back. If telling you this helps, then that’s what I’ll do."
Iphicles stared back at Kirok for a long time. "You aren’t going to stop the way I feel about him," he said quietly.
"I don’t want to."
"Hold on... what do you mean?" Hercules asked, coming forward and standing by the elemental. "Just how do you feel about Ares?"
Iphicles sighed and threw his quill down onto the desk "We were lovers. After all this happened the first time, he didn't visit me again... after I slept with Klas... I had hoped..." he stopped. "I thought you knew. I remember telling you."
"Why the hell don’t I remember it then?" Hercules demanded.
Kirok looked at Hercules. "That was one of your memories I didn’t restore. I didn't think Iphicles would want you to know," he murmured.
Iphicles could see his half brother was starting to get angry. He suddenly picked Kirok up by his silken collar and pushed him up against the wall. "Give me all my fucking memories back, you bastard!" he yelled. "You’ve no right to tamper with them."
Kirok struggled briefly in the demigod’s grasp, reaching his hand between them and placing it on the demigod's chest. His hand flashed white and with a violent, powerful force, Hercules was thrown across the room. He landed with a crash against the opposite wall, and sat there, rubbing his head and looking dizzied. Iphicles half rose, then stopped as Kirok rounded on him, his hand held out.
"Don’t even think it," Kirok whispered. "Janus can kill gods...but I have no problem killing humans if needs be."
The king put up his hands, showing he meant no harm. He went over to his brother and helped him to his feet. "Are you all right?" He asked.
Kirok relaxed and let his hand fall. "You’d better leave," he said quietly to Hercules. "I need to talk to Iphicles alone."
Hercules looked embarrassed by the fact that he’d been thrown across the room by a man not even Iolaus' height - and much slimmer. He straightened his shirt, ran a hand through tousled hair, then shook his head. “I’m not leaving Iphy with you. How do I know you won’t hurt him?”
“He won’t hurt me.” Iphicles said, patting his brother’s shoulder reassuringly. “I’ll be all right. You’d better leave.”
"If you're sure, Iph?" Hercules gave him a long questioning look.
Iphicles nodded. "I can take care of myself, Herc."
Hercules sighed and nodded. “I’ll uh... take a walk,” he said and went.
Iphicles watched him leave then snorted with laughter. "That took him down a few demigodly pegs," he said.
Kirok didn’t laugh. He rarely laughed, it seemed. Iphicles suddenly wanted to see this strange being’s true form again. He was fascinated by him. He’d never thought tales of the First and Last were true, but now he’d seen the evidence with his own eyes.
Once he’d gotten over his shock, not only of what Kirok was, but what Klas had been all the time they had lain together - making love, he found a deep-seated curiosity gnawing at him to get to know these spirits better. He had so many questions, so many feelings. Iphicles knew these beings were here before the gods, before humans. He longed to know so much more.
He regarded Kirok silently, wanting to ask a million questions, but somehow knowing they wouldn’t be welcomed. He contented himself with sitting down on a comfortable lounging chair and inviting Kirok to sit beside him Kirok sat, then curled himself up like a cat.
He then began to tell Iphicles what had happened - about Janus getting out of control, and none of them able to help him, calling for Iolaus to help, finding out that Ares had Arges, the stone that controlled all things of fire. He went through how Janus had killed the minotaur, filling the beast with his lethal seed and burning him into dust, then how Cupid betrayed them, warning Ares that they were coming. He told in excruciating detail how Ares had taken Cupid and Klas prisoner, forcing a broken winged Cupid to
watch as he tortured the water spirit, forcing him into his true form which couldn’t tolerate the air, raping him over and over as he lay dying - then the fight between them all.
Iphicles found himself weeping as he heard about how Klas had sacrificed himself rather than let Janus destroy the world with the Arges stone. Horror filled him, as Kirok told, in his cold sibilant hiss, of how Janus had taken Ares, forcing the god to suck his cock; fully intending to kill the god with his deadly essence.
Kirok stopped his tale, watching the king, who struggled with all this, the sadness, the betrayal and the pain they must have all gone through because of his war god lover. Finally he raised his head.
"Ares is still here. Obviously Janus didn’t kill him. No wonder they hate each other. What happened next?" He asked.
"Iolaus pleaded for Ares’ life. He told Janus that it wasn’t what Klas wanted and Janus saw sense. He let Ares go."
"So that’s what he meant when he said he owed Iolaus a favour?" Iphicles murmured.
Kirok nodded. "So I don’t know whether to trust him or not. Janus doesn’t, but he... doesn’t trust Cupid either. He blames him in a way for Klas dying, but we need all the help we can get. Could you... stay with Ares? Try and persuade him that he needs to keep his promise? We don’t need any distractions. We really need your help in this."
Iphicles nodded. "I only want one thing in return?" He asked.
"If I can give it, I will."
"Can I... I mean... will you... show me again what you are? You’re so beautiful... I want…" The king paused, blushing wildly. "I want to touch your wings."
Kirok smiled. "Gladly," he said, and stood up.
This time the change wasn’t quite so dramatic. He slowly metamorphosed, the wings stretching and growing from his shoulders, his body slowly turning from flesh into his true glowing form. His wings, once fully formed, spread out; radiating beauty, as he gently lifted into the air - becoming part of it.
"Breathtaking," Iphicles whispered, spellbound. He stared at the being, now totally naked in front of him, sexless and formless, only the huge wings quivered slightly in the enclosed space of the room. The king rose to his feet and walked round the being, taking in the glassy beauty, the snowy, feathered wings. He reached out and tremblingly touched the nearest wing, running a hand along the downy softness. He closed his eyes lost in the feel, the touch, the perfection. He felt another shudder beneath his hand and Kirok changed again, his hair flowing around him in long ebony ringlets, his body once more becoming flesh.
Iphicles’ eyes darted open as he stood behind the silent Kirok, then he wrapped his arms underneath the wings, around the slim waist and buried his face in the warm feathers. He felt the wings come up and around him, folding back and cradling him gently. He breathed deeply, nuzzling his face in the black curls of Kirok's hair, smelling its spice, feeling its softness.
"Gods," he sighed. "I feel... so safe."
"You are safe," came the gentle reply. "Within my wings, you cannot fall."
Iphicles swept the long mass of hair away from Kirok's neck and nuzzled into the satin skin, kissing downwards until he reached tiny velvet feathers nestling on his shoulder blades. He felt Kirok tremble beneath his lips and a soft gasp. The wings wrapped around him rustled urgently and then arched outwards.
“Iphicles...” Kirok whispered. “What are you doing?”
The king stepped away and watched as Kirok turned to face him, completely unselfconscious of his nudity. His eyes travelled downwards and widened as he saw tattoos of flame covering Kirok's hips and thighs. He felt himself drawn to those etched markings and reached out to touch.
Kirok held still as Iphicles’ hands stroked gently over his thighs, marvelling at the long, thick cock that reared out of the nest of black hair at his groin. Iphicles looked into the beautiful, other-worldly face and saw Kirok's shut his eyes, then bite his lip, trying not to whimper, but failing.
Touching this spirit, holding him close and feeling the soft brush of trembling feathers, Iphicles felt calm and protected. He felt Kirok's arms go around him and they cradled each other, not speaking, hardly moving. He could feel his own body reacting to the nearness of the smaller man, but he wasn’t sure what to do, whether to start making love to him, or just hold him, sinking into the shelter and warmth he felt radiating out of Kirok.
At that moment, all his cares and worries fell away. He forgot about Ares, forgot about his kingship, the work he should be doing. Everything faded and all there was, was security and seclusion beneath this being’s wings. He whispered Kirok's name, trying to tell him, in that one word, how he felt.
At last Kirok stepped away and Iphicles felt a sudden shock of loss. He raised his head and looked into the ebony eyes. “Kirok...” he whispered again. “I... gods...” he felt unable to articulate his emotions, but Kirok nodded, understanding.
The wings raised above his head, clearing the floor, and Kirok knelt at the kings feet. Iphicles looked down at him, stroking the curly head, wondering what was happening. He felt a touch on his hip and then without thought, dropped to his own knees.
“You won’t be able to stand up.” Kirok said, smiling.
Kirok's cool fingers were at Iphicles’ jerkin, undoing it and laying bare his chest. Iphicles shut his eyes, his cock reacting to the gentle touch, then he felt Kirok's hand lay flat over his heart and a feeling of warmth infuse his whole body. He opened his eyes and saw Kirok glowing with power, but he wasn’t afraid. He trusted this being totally, more than any other person in his life except perhaps for Rena.
Suddenly he gasped, his body filled with immeasurable desire and pleasure. His hips jerked forward instinctively and he felt his cock throb powerfully then release it’s essence, sending him headlong into an explosion of orgasm. He cried out, and nearly collapsed backwards, but once more the wings enfolded him, holding him safe. At the same time he became aware of Kirok writhing against him, felt the wetness of the spirit's release against his stomach and the soft, sobbing mewl of completion in his ear. The sound of Kirok's climax sent shivers through his body, somehow knowing that that his
own pleasure had triggered the same reaction in the being knelt before him. He whimpered, leaned forward into Kirok's own shuddering torso and felt soft lips touch his own in a tender kiss.
At last his sight returned and he dizzily looked up, finding himself laying on the floor, Kirok hovering above him, his wings extended forward like an Egyptian *Ka*, still holding him. He raised himself up and felt the feathered warmth leave him.
At last Kirok melted into his human form and was once more the enigmatic man Iphicles knew, dressed in loose, silken black. The king got to his knees and grabbed the desk, using it as support as he climbed slowly to his feet.
“I’m sorry that was so intense. I didn’t mean for it to happen that way,” Kirok said. “But... I think you needed it.” His lips curved into a smile. “I know I did.”
“How did you... Gods... that was...” Iphicles couldn’t find a coherent sentence to say. He reached for the flagon of wine on his desk and poured some, offering a goblet to Kirok. Kirok shook his head.
“I have to return to Jason.” He said. “Please... Don’t trust Ares.”
Iphicles shook his head, and buried his face in his goblet, draining the wine. When he looked up again, Kirok was gone.
Part 10 Reaching for Iolaus
(ep spoiler, season 5, Revelation)
“So how do we find Iolaus?” Kalios asked. The tiny man was perched on the table in their room. His huge green eyes roamed around the others, then fixed on Hercules.
Hercules watched as Jason scrubbed his hands through his hair and rubbed his eyes. he still looked pale, but at least he wasn’t in pain. Whatever had been weakening him had faded for the moment. He lifted his head and caught the demigod looking at him. He smiled ruefully and shrugged.
“Kal, he’s your father. You must have some kind of link to him,” he said, his voice hoarse.
“I’m not sure... I never tried...” Kal said doubtfully. “I’ll need your help,” he said to Hercules.
Just then Kirok entered the room. Hercules frowned at him, running his eyes over the man looking for... he didn’t know what, but he wanted to make sure Iphicles was all right. Kirok nodded at him.
“He’s fine. We... talked,” he said. "You both have nothing to fear from me.”
“What makes you think I’m afraid of you?” Hercules asked.
Kirok just smiled. “You forget, demigod. I know how you feel. Remember that time you showed me how humans make love? Remember what I told you then?”
Jason made a rumbling noise deep in his throat. “They all have you... all of them, except me,” he said.
Kirok glared at the earth elemental. “You’ve never wanted me,” he snapped. “We may be joined, but if I had my own way...”
“Enough!” Janus' deep voice came. He had been standing by the window, gazing out into the courtyard lost in his own thoughts. He walked over to stand beside Kalios. “Before we started getting involved with humans, we never had bad words between us. We’re breaking up. We’re no longer the closed fist and I hate it. Sometimes I wish I had destroyed them when I had the chance.”
“You don’t mean that!” Hercules said. “What is it with all you powerful beings... I had this out with Michael and the four riders. Why did you create humans if all you want to do is destroy them?”
“I didn't create humans. None of us did. Your fucking gods did that! We just made it possible for the earth to let them live. We didn’t want them here, and now they spread like an infestation over the world,” Janus growled.
“Peace, Janus,” Jason said quietly. “We can go back to our long sleep once we’ve dealt with this, but for now we have to find Iolaus for Hercules, and also what’s going on with the earth force.”
“You really think it’s that?” Kal asked.
Jason looked confused. “I don’t know, but I think it is. I don’t know of anything else that would harm us.... nothing left in the world anyway.”
“Who is Michael?” Kirok asked at last.
Hercules sighed and told them all about the ultra powerful being he, Ares and Iolaus had faced. He told them of the breaking of the seals and the four riders of the Apocalypse, his own sacrifice and Iolaus' ‘punishment’ to be returned to earth to be once more with his lover.
When he’d finished he looked round at the silent men. Janus and Jason both looked confused, Kal was frowning and Kirok had his eyes shut, looking as if he was concentrating hard.
“What’s wrong?” Hercules asked at last.
Kirok opened his mouth to speak, but then shook his head, apparently changing his mind. “I think Kal should try and find Iolaus now,” he said instead.
“How?” Kal asked. “You’ll have to show me.”
Kirok nodded and stood up. As one the other three went to him and held out their hands. Kirok beckoned Hercules. “You too. Come here.”
Hercules did as he was told, putting his hand on top of Janus' hot skin. He’d seen Iolaus do this several times when he had been linked with Janus, and knew what was about to happen, but had to bottle down some underlying fear that it might hurt him. He wiped away the bead of sweaty apprehension that ran down his brow, then felt Kal stroke his arm. He looked down at the small man.
“It won’t hurt. You might feel some heat, but that’s all,” he said.
Hercules looked round the others. They all had their eyes shut, concentrating on Kirok, who looked down at the linked hands. As Hercules watched, the air spirit began to glow slightly.
“Begin,” he whispered.
Janus opened his eyes, his brutish face, for once calm and at peace. “We are the closed fist...” he murmured.
“We are what should have been,” Kal said, his voice sounding sad
“What has always been,” Jason said.
“What will be,” Kirok completed the ritual. “Kal... think of Iolaus... nothing but Iolaus. Hercules... I want you to focus on what you know of this light you told me about. I think I know where he is.”
Hercules shuddered as he felt even more power course through him and realised that Kirok was using his thoughts as a catalyst to Kal to contact Iolaus where ever he was.
He could feel his own body straining, his muscles trembling as the energy swirled around and through all of them. He did as he was told, remembering what Iolaus had said about the light being perfect bliss, of the guardians, of the huge room he had been in when Michael had meted out his punishment to his lover. He saw Michael's face in clear detail as he stood on the hill with the four horsemen, ready to end the world. Once more a lone bead of sweat trailed down the demigod's face.
Kal suddenly gasped and his whole body rippled with energy as he melted into his true form... a blue and jade being made of water, with large diaphanous wings like a manta ray, fluked like a whale’s tail.
Hercules remembered that Iolaus was able to contact him through water the last time and he focused instinctively on Kalios.
“Iolaus!” he said urgently. “Iolaus, are you there?”
Kal moaned, writhing under the power that held him and he spoke. “Yes. I’m here.” It was Iolaus' voice, sounding echoed, as if miles away. “Get me out of here, Herc!”
Hercules was aware of Kirok intensifying his own power further, pouring it into Kal. Across from him, Janus groaned softly as if in pain, but didn’t break the circle. “You’re hurting him, Keer,” he whispered.
“Not for long,” Kirok replied. “Hurry, Hercules.”
“What do I do?”
“Reach into him.”
Hercules balked. “But...”
“DO IT!” Kirok's voice snaked out like a whip.
Hercules put his hand out, touching Kalios, expecting to feel the elemental’s skin beneath his fingers, but instead, his hand disappeared inside the being’s chest. He withdrew, uncertain, wondering what the hell was happening, but Kirok urged him on.
He tentatively reached inside again and felt a firm grip on his hand. He let out a yelp and pulled his hand back. The grip remained firm, holding on for dear life as Hercules pulled back, his arm withdrew from the elemental and Kal rippled once more and let out a whimper.
Slowly the demigod pulled and saw a familiar hand accompany his… then an arm and a shoulder. Hercules could see his lover's face and pulled harder. Finally Iolaus stepped from inside Kal's body, as if from beneath a waterfall, soaking wet, falling abruptly into Hercules' arms. Kal collapsed and Janus broke the circle, grabbing him and lowering his lover carefully to the floor, as Kal slowly returned to his human form, gulping for much needed air.
“Shit!” rasped Hercules, filled with shock and loathing at what he had just done. He glanced at his hand, but it seemed normal, if damp. He resisted the urge to go wash, and then felt himself enfolded in a tight hug.
“Herc! Thank the gods! Fuck.... I didn’t know if you’d know where I was,” Iolaus said, his voice coloured with happiness.
Hercules forgot about the strange experience he had just had and hugged his lover close, burying his face in the blond hair, drinking in his familiar warmth and scent. They hugged for long moments until Iolaus suddenly realised where they were. He pulled away from the demigod and turned to face the others.
“Kirok! Jase! Wow. It’s great to see you guys... Janus... shit. What’s wrong with Kal?” he knelt with Janus, stroking the wheaten locks of his son’s hair.
“He got you back,” Hercules said. “I don’t know how they did it, but you just walked out of his body... it was... uh... weird, to say the least.”
Iolaus went an interesting shade of green. “Woah!” he said. “No wonder he looks like shit.”
Kal’s eyelids fluttered and he opened them, grinning brightly at first his lover, then his father. Janus helped him sit up and Kal clasped hands with Iolaus. “I’m glad I could get you back,” he said, his melodious voice sounding weak. “Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to throw up.”
Janus lifted the water spirit to his feet and carried him quickly to somewhere where he could be sick in peace.
Part 11 Brotherly Love
Hercules walked down the corridor toward his brothers’ office, thinking hard. Iolaus had been obviously happy to see his lover, but had also been concerned for the wellbeing of his strange offspring, and reluctant to talk about what had happened, at least for now. The demigod had left him with Kal and Janus, vaguely worried about what had happened with Kirok and Iphicles. He was determined to find out what Kirok had said to his brother and marched to his office with a determined look on his face.
Halfway there he felt a familiar surge of power and ducked the shower of love hearts. “Doesn’t he ever get fed up with all that?" he muttered to himself as his nephew appeared.
“Cupid,” Hercules said in greeting.
“Hey, Uncle Herc,” Cupid returned the acknowledgement. “What’s happening?”
“We got Iolaus back.”
“Cool. Does that mean we can all go home now?”
“No. this isn’t over.”
Cupid sighed and flapped his wings impatiently. “So, Ares is still hanging about?”
“Yes. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I can deal with him.”
“Uh huh. No way. I’m staying right here where I can keep an eye on him. So what’s happening? Why are the element dudes still pissed?”
“The.. uh.. element dudes have problems of their own, which somehow involves Iolaus and Michael.”
“Michael? Is that the guy who goes around with those four horse riders with bad attitudes?”
“Should get on well with Janus then,” Cupid muttered.
Hercules hid a smile. Cupid was right, but he wasn’t about to agree with him. “I’m going to see Iphicles,” he said instead.
“Cool. I’ll come with you.”
“Um... not a good idea.”
“Course it is Unc. I need to know more about what’s happening around here if I’m helping you.”
“Cupid...” Hercules started one of his lectures. “You really don’t need to...”
The winged god of love disappeared in a flurry of pink stars and red love hearts. “See ya there, Unc,” he said as he went.
Hercules growled, then realised just why Janus had his famous attitude problem. Dealing with teenage gods and weirdly powerful elementals was not one of his favourite pastimes.... even if they were aeons old. He sighed and went to Iphicles’ office.
Iphicles was sitting at his desk as usual when Hercules entered his private domain. Hercules noted the dazed smile on his brothers face and his heart sank. He knew that look. He’d worn it himself a few times.
The king looked up and beamed uncharacteristically at the demigod. “Hey, Herc!” he said, his tones happier than Hercules had heard them for a long time.
“Hi Iph,” Hercules said warily. “How did it go with Kirok?”
“Uh... fine. We had a long talk.”
“I’ll just bet you did,” Hercules muttered.
“I beg your pardon?” Iphicles wiped the stupid grin off his face.
Hercules sighed. “You fucked him didn’t you? Gods, Iph... Don’t you know how dangerous these guys are? Janus nearly killed Ares and Kirok frightened the shit out of Cupid. How the fuck can you, a mere human, cope with these guys?”
“I may be a mere human, brother, but I know what I’m doing! How the hell can you presume what we did is anything but...”
“I’ve fucked him myself, Iphicles. I know what a slut the guy is. He’s had me and he’s had Cupid,” Hercules said angrily. “I’ve dealt with these guys and really, I’m worried about you getting so deeply involved with a...”
“I didn’t fuck him! But even if I did, you can’t fucking tell me what I can and can’t do!” Iphicles exploded. “Just because I’m not a heroic do-gooder. I’m not living under your shadow anymore and...”
“Don’t speak to me like that! I don’t want you going near these guys... not in that way at least... what you going to do next? Let Janus have you?” Hercules bellowed, advancing on his brother.
“Kirok's different! He understands me.”
“Gods! Don’t you know anything? The guy is supposed to understand you. He’s not only an air elemental, he’s also the embodiment of spirit. He can feel everything you feel and react to it. If you want sex, he’ll give it... if you feel sad, he’ll make you feel better... Iph, really. These guys aren’t to be messed with.” Hercules tone was softer as he tried desperately to calm down himself and his angry brother.
He groaned as he felt the tell tale sprinkle of confetti and flash of light that heralded one of his relatives’ arrivals.
“Gods, no. Not now, Cupid,” he said.
“You can’t talk about Kirok like that,” Cupid said, his hazel eyes flashing angrily.
“Why are you two so blind? Why can’t you see what he does to you?” Hercules asked. “All he has to do is flutter those long eyelashes at you and you’re a heap of orgasmic wrecks.”
“Is that so?” Cupid asked coldly.
“Yes. I’d expect better of you, Cupid. You’re a god.”
“Oh, so I’m not supposed to know what I’m doing because I’m a puny mortal?” Iphicles asked, drawing his sword.
Hercules tensed. He didn’t want to hurt his brother, but it looked as if Iphicles was angry enough to actually think of attacking him.
Hercules' heart sank as with another flash of light and a small clap of thunder, Ares appeared, leaning casually against the desk. “Do I hear raised voices?” he asked mildly.
“Get out of here, Ares!” Iphicles and Hercules chorused.
The dark god raised an eyebrow. “That’s a bit harsh isn’t it?” he asked, then he saw Cupid standing there, a look of total hatred on his handsome face, his wings extended in taut fury.
“Nephew,” he said, bowing his head slightly. “Long time no see.”
“Don’t give me that crap!” Cupid snarled. “You fucking snake! You murderer! I wish Janus had killed you. You deserved nothing less than him fucking you to your slowly burning knees!”
Ares’ black eyes sparked with malevolent anger. “You forget who you’re talking to, love god.” His voice dripped derision.
“Fuck you, Ares! I may be the god of love, but I’m no fucking pushover!” Cupid spat.
“Yeah. That’s what I thought when I held you helpless and stamped on your wings. You begged me, godling, not to hurt you... You screamed like a baby when I did it. If it wasn’t for that over-perfumed, pouting air creature, you’d still be a broken-winged mortal.” Ares’ voice slammed into Cupid, just as if he’d hit him with all his strength.
“Uh oh!” Hercules said, grabbed Iphicles by the arm and dragged him under the desk. Both men crouched there as they heard the sound of a fireball fizzle overhead and explode against the wall, making the whole building shake. There was another detonation and Cupid’s wrath-filled scream rent the air. “Fuck Zeus and his laws! I’m gonna pulverise you!”
“Come and have a go, if you think you’re hard enough,” came Ares’ taunting tones.
Iphicles looked at Hercules. “They’re both pretty pissed, aren’t they?”
“Uh. You could say that. We’d better do something to stop them, otherwise you’ll be building yourself a new castle... and all this time I was worrying about Janus' temper.” They ducked under the desk once more as another fireball hurtled through the air, and Cupid laughed.
“Missed! Eat this Ares, god of traitors!”
“You dare to accuse me?” Ares yelled. “You’re the one who...”
“Enough!” came a deep, powerful voice.
There was sudden silence.
Hercules buried his head in his hands. “Oh fuck... no... please.... no!”
He was aware of Iphicles poking his head out from under the desk to see who the newcomer was. Hercules sighed and stood up. At least the fireworks had stopped for the moment. He edged Iphicles behind him, aware that he was the only mortal in the room.
Ares suddenly grabbed the king, and pulled him close. “Stay with me,” he said. “I’m not having anymore of your shit with these element guys. You’re mine!”
Iphicles stared in disbelief at the god. “It’s been three years! How in Tartarus do you figure I belong to you?”
“Fuck. I don’t care how long it’s been. I’m not having you sleeping with them.”
Iphicles rolled his eyes. “You’re beginning to sound like Hercules!” he snapped.
As one, Hercules and Ares scowled at the defiant monarch. “Hey!” they chorused.
Ares pulled Iphicles close, meaningfully. “I’ve had enough of this,” he growled and raised his hand as if to strike the king.
“Let him go.” Janus was stood by the door, still looking mildly human, but his anger shone out of him like a beacon. He took a step forward and round to the side of Ares, his movement almost mantis-like in its precision. Behind him came the other three members of the group. They ranged themselves around the god, all poised to explode into power if needed.
Ares looked around them all, as did Hercules, wondering what the hell he could do against these men if they decided to stop Ares’ conniving once and for all. He could see Ares was thinking the same thing. His eyes were locked with Janus' as he slowly let the king of Corinth go.
The demigod was once again struck how alike these two were and he shuddered. One violent, psychopathic being on the loose was enough, without having Janus around as well.
Iphicles instinctively made for his brother, the one person he knew was safe. He stood beside him, his hand still paused over his sword, his coppery hair disarrayed and falling in his eyes. He swept it away impatiently.
“How in Tartarus did this start?” he asked his brother quietly.
“Beats me.” Hercules was still alert and ready to head off any sudden movement, not that he’d be able to do much. The four elementals and the two gods hadn’t moved.
“Your Majesty. Dinner is served.” The voice of Iphicles’ personal servant came from beyond the door and the man appeared, his eyes darting round the tension-filled people in his king’s office.
“Uh, thanks, Tetris,” Iphicles said, trying to sound calm. “We’ll be along in a moment.”
He stepped forward and Hercules saw him swallow. “Shall we dine?” he asked, with remarkable self-possession and walked out of the room, head held high.
“As long as it’s not fish,” Kal muttered and followed him. Jason shrugged and followed. Kirok gave Cupid a last lingering look and turned on his heel after his friends. At last, only Ares and Janus remained with Hercules standing almost unnoticed by the desk.
“This will never be over, motherfucker,” Janus said, his voice soft as velvet,
“You’re right. One of us will kill the other eventually,” Ares said, his voice just as quiet.
Janus reached out and did a curious thing to the watching demigod’s eyes. He touched Ares’ cheek almost gently, running long fingers over the dark hair, then he looked at Hercules.
“We going to eat or not?” he asked.
Hercules hurriedly joined the fire spirit, glancing at Cupid and Ares over his shoulder. Ares threw up his arms with a growl of momentary defeat and disappeared. A moment later Cupid did the same.
Part 12 ...Renewed and made whole...
“Ex Aqua extraxit. Renoavit completum que facitur. Donec Fames Primum et Extremum accipiet.”
The shining figure stood by the side of a lake, his arms raised, chanting slowly. As he finished his slow measured words, a tablet of stone appeared in a flash of light and dropped into his hands. He stroked the tablet absently, the wind ruffling his white hair slightly as he looked over the tranquil waters.
With an abrupt movement, he hurled the tablet out into the lake. At the last minute a waterspout rose up out of the depths, caught the tablet and drew it back down.
As it sunk out of sight, the being smiled his cruel smile and shut his eyes.
A moment later the lake was left in solitude to ponder its dark secret.
Part 13 Healing Waters
Iphicles smiled as he heard Kal say something funny to Iolaus. It was amazing how like these two men were and he once more ran through the father/son puzzle in his mind. He didn't get anywhere, so his eyes strayed to Hercules. The demigod was sitting next to his lover at the table, his eyes filled with open love as he gazed at the little hunter. Iolaus was eating and talking with great gusto, one hand waving his fork around as he told Kal some heroic story. The other, Iphicles assumed, must be grasping Hercules' own hand firmly under the table, away from prying eyes.
Iphicles sighed. How he would love someone like that near him – someone who made him feel safe and who he could share his troubles with. Automatically his gazed went to Kirok, who sat silently, toying with a slice of apple, always watching and aware of all that went on around him. Beside him sat Jason, talking to Janus quietly in a strange sounding language, like nothing the king had ever heard before. He listened and tried to make head or tail of the alien sounding words... a soft, sibilant, liquid language that put
him in mind of wind through trees, waterfalls and fire in the grass.
He felt eyes on him and pulled his attention back to Kirok.
“It is our own language.” Kirok explained without Iphicles having to ask.
“Where does it come from?” Iphicles finally decided to indulge his curiosity. Kirok looked like he wanted to talk.
“Everywhere. Can’t you hear it?”
The king nodded. “Yes. I can hear it... it’s very beautiful.”
“The sounds of the earth.” Kirok said in a sing-song voice. “The first language spoken and the last that will be heard.”
“Is it true you were the first?” Iphicles asked.
Kirok nodded, his full lips curving into a gentle smile. “Billions of years ago we...” he cut off suddenly and looked sharply at Kalios, leaping to his feet. At almost the same time, Kal stopped in mid conversation, let out a strangled cry of pain and collapsed forward. Iolaus reacted quickly and caught him before he could whack his head on the table.
“Fuck!” Iphicles heard Janus' oath as he also leapt to his feet and ran to his lover.
Kirok was unexpectedly there, right beside Kal, even though Iphicles hadn’t seen him move from his place. He knelt by the unconscious Kal as Janus cradled him in his arms.
“Not again.” Iphicles heard Janus moan softly. “Please... not again. Mother help him.”
“What’s wrong with him?” Iphicles asked. “Shall I get a healer? What do I...” he stopped, realising that no healer would be able to cure whatever it was that ailed Kal.
Kirok stood up, holding Kal in his arms, the little water spirit hanging limply in his embrace. Suddenly they were gone – no light, no fanfare, nothing.
Iphicles stared in shock at the empty space then looked around wildly. “Where did they...” he halted his questions, realising that it would just draw attention to the fact that these supposed ordinary musicians weren’t quite what they seemed.
Hercules was beside him grasping his arm firmly. “Come on,” he said.
“Where are we going?”
“Out of here.” Hercules nodded towards the blond mane of Janus as he disappeared out of the door at a run. Behind the fire elemental ran Jason and Iolaus.
“Where are they going?” Iphicles had never been so confused in his life.
“To the ship, I guess.” The demigod was hurrying Iphicles along, threading their way through the streets of Corinth towards the port.
As they approached the quay which was fairly dark and quiet, Iphicles looked about. “Which ship is it and how do we find it in the dark?” he asked.
He could hear a smile in his brother’s voice. “Don’t worry. It’ll find us.” He said enigmatically and stood by the dock.
“Find us? What are you... Ohhhhh!”
From out of nowhere came a strange ship, moving without benefit of sail, oar or crew. It was totally, eerily silent, not even leaving a wave of its passing. Iphicles took several steps back in trepidation, eyes wide open as he took in the glittering, ice-like transport.
“What the fuck?” he gasped. He felt Hercules grab his arm again and grew a little annoyed at his brother hauling him around like he was a pet monkey. “Herc... could you stop...” he started, then stopped once more as part of the ship extended outwards like a snail antennae and rested on the dock.
“Come on. Stop staring.” Hercules said. “It’s a fucking ship. Maybe it’s a strange kind of ship, but it’s perfectly safe... well... at least it is if Kal is all right.”
“That’s supposed to make me feel good?” Iphicles asked, but followed the demigod along the warm slightly flexible ‘gang-plank’ onto the ship’s deck.
They were greeted by Iolaus. Beside him was Jason. Kirok and Janus were nowhere to be seen.
“Where are they?” Hercules asked.
“Down below.” Iolaus caught Hercules' hand. “Best not to disturb them. They’re having a hard time.”
“Is Kal all right?” the king asked.
The hunter ran his hands through his already tousled hair. “I don’t know...I just don’t know... he’s half human... he’s not as powerful as the others. Shit, what was Klas thinking of when we made him? I’m not sure he can cope with Janus.”
Iphicles could hear the worry in Iolaus' voice. He put a reassuring hand on his friends shoulder and Hercules nodded in approval.
Jason looked up towards the entrance to the hold of the ship. Alerted by his sense of what was happening to his partner, the others looked up.
Janus came into view, holding his lover in his arms. He didn’t look at the small gathering that watched him, but went to the side of the ship and casually dumped Kal overboard.
“NO!” Iolaus shrieked. “What the fuck are you doing?”
Janus glared at him. “He’s a water spirit,” he said shortly.
Iphicles was confused at Iolaus' distraught reaction. The hunter ran to Janus and punched him hard on the jaw. Janus' head snapped back but he didn’t waver.
*Oh my gods. Iolaus is gonna die.* Iphicles thought, but Janus did nothing, just looked at Iolaus.
“If I thought you meant that, you’d be a pile of ash,” he whispered. “Kal is all right. He needs to return to the sea to heal.”
There was a sudden cessation of tension in the air. Iolaus reached forward and hugged Janus. The fire spirit held him for a moment then broke away, looking embarrassed.
Iolaus looked longingly into the water. “I wish I could see him... make sure he was all right,” he said.
“Why don’t you?” Janus asked.
“Are you kidding? I can’t breathe underwater... let alone see in this darkness. I’m human remember.”
Iphicles heard Janus' chuckle - an unexpected, happy sound. He didn’t think he’d ever hear the man laugh.
“Iolaus. You still have your power. We didn't separate you from Klas last time because we were distracted and because Kal is your son, you still have the link, even if Klas is dead. You can still change your form.”
Iolaus stared at Janus. “Shit. That would’ve come in useful over the last year,” he said, and abruptly changed.
The king took a step back and barged into Hercules. He didn’t look round or apologise - he was too busy staring in stupefaction at the watery form in front of him with the fluttering diaphanous wings.
"Oh shit," he said quietly. A total look of shock came over his face and the king found it hard to swallow. "He’s one of them?"
“It’s a long story,” Hercules said as his lover drifted up into the air, then dove gracefully into the dark waters, disappearing without a splash.
“You should tell me,” Iphicles insisted.
“Later,” Hercules said.
Kirok came into view from below. He looked exhausted, dark rings shadowed his slanted black eyes and his hair looked more of a mass of snarls and tangles rather than the shining ringlets Iphicles was used to.
“Let’s go back to the castle,” he said quietly. “I need to rest.”
“But what about Kal and Iolaus?” Hercules asked.
Kirok sighed. “They are safe where they are. Iolaus will take care of Kal.” He looked over the side of the ship. “We forgot to unlink them,” he said. “Fuck it. Got to do that when they come out.”
They all started walking back to the castle. On the way Hercules finally explained to his brother how Iolaus could be Kal's father. He told of the link Iolaus had to share with Klas to help keep Janus under control when he was overtaken by the Arges stone, and how Klas had deceived him into producing Kalios.”
“He was the only one of us who can reproduce.” Kirok joined in as they entered the castle. “Klas could see the future. He knew of his coming death and made sure there was someone there to be with Janus. He knew Iolaus wouldn’t be able to stay with us.”
“But he was a... man... no.. a male,” Iphicles said in confusion.
“We all choose to use these bodies,” Kirok said. “They’re the way we shaped ourselves, but we are both male and female... the elements have no sexual attributes. It’s only humans who call the North wind ‘He’, the ocean ‘She’. The only true Mother is the Earth that gives us all life.”
There was a gust of wind and Hercules jolted beside Iphicles. Where Kirok had stood was a beautiful woman – the facial features of the already feminine air spirit were almost the same, but the body was definitely that of a woman... she was stark naked.
“Oh boy, am I glad Iolaus isn’t here,” Hercules commented, blushing wildly.
Kirok actually laughed, her already light voice pitched slightly higher. “Just proving a point,” she said.
Iphicles watched her change back into his male form, then looked at the silent Janus. Janus glared right back at him. “Don’t even think it,” he growled. “I don’t do the girl thing.”
Iphicles found himself laughing quietly all the way back to his room.
Part 14 Night Wings.
Iphicles climbed wearily into his bed and pummelled the pillow into a comfortable shape before he composed himself for sleep, but his mind kept on going over and over what had happened in that very full day. He had received shock after shock, first Kirok, then there had been that problem with Ares and Cupid, and then the ship...
He sighed and tossed and turned, unable to relax enough to fall into slumber. He sat up suddenly, thinking that perhaps he’d go to his ruined office and try to order the papers that had flown everywhere during the god’s fight.
"Why bother. Get the servants to do it," came a silken voice from the darkness. Iphicles jumped about a foot, then let out a gasp.
"Ares!" he said, his eyes blinking into the darkness of his bedchamber. "Are you spying on me?"
"Of course. I was making sure you weren’t going to sleep with one of those over-powerful weather-vanes."
Iphicles couldn’t help himself. He lay back on the bed and laughed weakly. "Boy, Ares. Do you have it wrong," he said.
"I know exactly what they are..." The dark god came forward and sat on the bed, stroking the king's thigh over the blanket.
"Ares... I’m not..." Iphicles remembered Kirok's warning. He was determined not to let this god sucker him into bed. He knew he’d be lost if Ares used his unrelenting sensuality on him.
"Not what? Not going to let me make love to you?" Ares’ voice was pitched low and deep.
"That’s rich. You’ve never made love to me. You’ve always fucked me. You’ve always used me for your own ends, and get jealous when I seek out the gentleness I need. You don’t come near me for three years then you appear, thinking we’re going to carry on where we left off. You never considered my own feelings." Iphicles burst out.
"I admit I’ve been wrong." Ares’ voice sounded slightly ashamed.
Iphicles felt a warm hand stroke up his arm and his skin erupted into goose bumps. He fought down his arousal. "Yeah, right. Like I’m going to believe you?"
"What do I have to do to convince you?" The voice was a soft purr. Iphicles shuddered in need and let himself succumb to the god’s power as Ares kissed him. He moaned quietly and let his mouth open to Ares’ seeking tongue. He felt exploring hands pull back the blankets and seek out his already erect nipples, flicking over one then the other until he was gasping. Ares knew how sensitive they were and used it to his advantage.
The hand continued its slow movement down, stroking in little light swirls down Iphicles’ heated skin, tugging gently at the trail of hair that led towards his navel, then fingering that dimple in his skin before moving downwards. Iphicles let out a whimper, squeezing his eyes tight shut, his hips instinctively arching towards that tender touch.
He heard a soft laugh from the darkness and the warmth of the god’s body left him.
There was silence. Iphicles was alone. He lay here for a moment, attempting to recover from the extreme state of desire the god had left him in, then got up, ignoring his rampant cock. He was not going to give Ares the satisfaction of knowing he was desperate for his touch.
He threw on a robe and opened the window to the gardens that Rena had loved so much. He stood there, breathing in the warm, scented night air, listening to the very faint sounds of the night – a dog’s bark, the answering yowl of a cat, someone yelling at them to be quiet, the slow rumble of a cart taking goods out of the city.
He sighed, feeling his loneliness well up inside him. All over Corinth, people were sleeping with their husbands, wives, lovers; their children curled up in their beds, knowing that even if their life was hard, they would have someone to share it with. Here he was - their king. His word was law, but every night he slept alone, aching for someone to hold. Instead he got lumbered with a part time godly lover who didn’t give him the time of day unless Iphicles showed interest in another, then he got jealous and
murderous. Even the only family he had left, his half brother, objected to his choice of lover. Why couldn’t he just find someone and be happy... even if for a little while?
He shook his head and reached out to close the window once more. As he leaned out, he saw Kirok in the garden below, wandering, as he himself often wandered, touching the night flowers that bloomed, looking incredibly lost and melancholy. Iphicles was about to call out, when there was a soft flash of light and Cupid appeared.
Kirok stood there, his eyes on the god, but not moving. Cupid went to him and touched his cheek in a curiously poignant manner.
"I’ve missed you so much," he said, his voice drifting up clearly to the watching king.
"Cupid... I told you how I feel," Kirok said, but Iphicles could hear a note of regret in that soft voice.
"I’ve seen your desolation. Can you tell me you don’t need me and actually mean it? You need me just as much as I need you. You don’t love Jason do you? You never have and never will," Cupid said, his hand drifting downwards and tenderly running through Kirok's hair.
Kirok bowed his head, his curls drifting upwards in a breeze that seemed to be centred only on himself. "No I don’t love him. I love you," he said at last "But we can’t be together. It's impossible."
"There’s nothing stopping us, Keer. Nothing." Cupid took Kirok's hand. "Think about it. There’s nothing that says you have to be with him all the time, and I’m a god. I can find you whenever you want me. Wouldn’t you like that?" "Couldn't it be enough for us? We could be together anytime, any place." Iphicles saw Cupid raise Kirok's hand to his chest and place it above his heart.
Kirok nodded and lifted his head so Cupid could kiss him. They held each other close, their lips locked, then Iphicles was aware that they were both changing. Cupid’s small wings were lengthening, growing larger. Kirok's own wings appeared slowly from his shoulders like a butterfly from its chrysalis.
They parted, then Kirok laughed delightedly and swept himself into the air. Cupid went with him and they somersaulted together like a pair of oversized birds at play. Iphicles couldn’t help smiling at the sight of these graceful men swooping around each other like children, their laughter ringing out into the air of Corinth.
"Let’s fly," Cupid said at last, and within moments the two had flown up over Iphicles’ line of sight and disappeared out of view.
The king closed the window and, for the first time in his life he felt the magnitude of his loneliness. Feeling sadder and lonelier than ever, he went to his bed, knowing full well he wouldn't sleep tonight.
Part 15 Laying Plans
(season 5 spoiler for "Revelations")
The king opened his eyes sleepily and cast a glance at the window. Dawn was just breaking and he’d probably had about an hour's sleep. His eyes felt gritty and he rubbed them as he sat up. "Come in," he said, and went to the pot to take his morning pee.
His brother came in. "Oh... uh... sorry…I uh..."
"Relax, Herc. Haven’t you ever seen a guy take a piss before?" Iphicles could have sworn he saw Hercules blushing. He finished his business then went to the water jug to wash.
"Iolaus and Kalios are back. Iolaus wants to tell us all what’s going on. Do you want to join us?"
"Yeah, sure. Let me dress. Shall I have breakfast sent to the guys’ room?"
Hercules thought about this, then answered in the affirmative. He left the king alone to freshen up and dress.
Once clothed in a loose brown tunic and leather pants – what the well dressed casual king was wearing this season – Iphicles went to his chancellor and told him that he would have to deal with anything that came up that day, then made his way to the guest wing. He was about to knock on the door when it swung open of its own accord. He went in and saw the collected humans, elementals and Cupid; all sitting down around the large mahogany table. Breakfast had been set there and they were all eating, with
the exception of Jason and Cupid.
"Come in. Join us," Jason said, standing up and letting the king take his place. The earth spirit still looked a little pale, but his smile was friendly as always. His red-brown hair was loose for the first time since Iphicles had known him and crackled with static around his shoulders.
"Aren’t you eating?" Iphicles asked.
Jason grinned. "Never happen," He said and sat down on the windowsill slightly behind Janus, busily pulling his hair back into the high-gathered ponytail that showed the sides of his shaved head.
Iphicles looked round the others. Iolaus was eating as always. Hercules was talking to Cupid. Kal sat silent and pale, his incredibly long hair hanging in damp rats tails. Janus sat beside him, his eyes on his lover, looking worried. Every now and then he would touch Kal’s hand and Kal would look up, nod and go back to the contemplation of his breakfast.
Iphicles shot a look at Kirok and saw he was dressed in white. Iphicles raised his brows. This was a day of firsts. The silky material he wore accentuated his dusky skin and dark eyes – eyes that were firmly fixed once again on the love god.
"So what’s going on?" Iphicles asked, forgetting about examining his companions.
"We’re waiting for Ares," Hercules said.
"Can’t you call him? He’s your brother."
"I could, but he’d make it a point to ignore me," Hercules said with a smile. "It’s quicker to just let him turn up when he’s ready."
Janus made a low growling noise in his throat. Kal seemed to pull himself out of his sickness and slapped him lightly on the hand. "We have to work together with this," he said. "The sooner you realise that, the better. Stop being an old grouch."
Iphicles had to hide his laughter with a cough and pretend he was choking on the bread he was eating. Calling Janus an old grouch was like calling the pit of Tartarus, ‘a small hole’.
Ares finally walked into the room via a curtain of light. He stood there regarding the gathered people and then grinned wolfishly. "What’s this? Happy families?"
Janus growled again. Kirok and Kal both grabbed his shoulders and prevented him from standing up.
"Sit down Ares. We have to talk seriously, without all the immortal posturing," Hercules said.
The god relented and perched on a corner of the table - the other end from Janus, Iphicles noted he purposely kept as much space between them as possible. He couldn't help but wonder if Ares could actually be afraid of Janus.
They all looked expectantly at Iolaus, who realised he was the centre of attention and swallowed his mouthful hurriedly.
"Ok, guys," he said. "As you know, I got kidnapped, and most of you know I was taken by the light, *again*. Seems they love me so much they want me to stay."
"Does this mean you have to go back again?" Hercules interrupted.
"No. This time they took me by force. I wasn’t sure what they wanted, but once I got there, Michael told me that as I stopped the Apocalypse last time, I would have to help them remake the seals. Well I refused, of course. I mean I don’t want another one of those things any more than any of you do. If they put the seals back, there is always that danger. Anyway, they told me I’d have to stay there until they’d remade the seals... just that without my help it’s going to take longer, which is great ‘cos it gives us some time
to make our own plans."
"I should’ve blasted the pompous bastard where he stood," Ares chimed in. "I would’ve given him a good kicking. I’d have taught him to mess with my humans!" He punched the air as if Michael was in front of him.
Hercules sighed. "I told you he was losing it." He addressed Iolaus. Iolaus shrugged.
"From what you tell us of this guy and his sidekicks, the riders, they seem more powerful than the Olympians," Janus said thoughtfully.
"Gods, yes. He’s like kick-ass powerful. I wouldn’t want to tangle with him," Iolaus said. "Not twice anyway."
"Looks like we might have to, dude," Cupid said. "Is he starting up another of these Poxy-Clips?"
"Apocalypse," Iolaus corrected. "Well, the long and short of it all is that he’s remaking the seals that summon the riders, and putting them back in their places, which is why you guys..." he motioned round at the elementals, "... are feeling so sick."
"I don’t understand," Jason said. "What have we got to do with this light?"
Iolaus scrubbed his hands through his hair and stopped talking for a moment. Iphicles, watching the hunter, thought he looked older and more tired than he’d ever seen him.
Finally Iolaus got his thoughts together. "The tablets are hidden within each of the elements... uh... except for spirit..." he amended hastily for Kirok's benefit. "Which is why, every time he renews another seal and puts it back, it takes a little of your power. He’s replaced the first two. Air is next, then Fire."
"So we aren’t as powerful as we used to be?" Jason asked, looking alarmed.
"I don’t think it’s like that. You’re weaker, but your powers are just the same," Kirok said.
Kal, Jason and Janus stared at Kirok, their faces all held exactly the same look of confusion. Kirok shrugged. "I know what I mean," he said and looked at Iolaus. "Does this mean that I’m going to stay just the same because I’m holding two elements?"
Iolaus pulled a face of uncertainty. "I don’t know. All I know is this light’s getting stronger as more people over the world start to believe in it. If it’s not stopped, these guys will put the munch on the human race and start again. It’s what they wanted last time but me and Herc stopped them."
"So how do we stop them this time? I don’t want to be a god in an empty world, and I’m pretty sure these light dudes won’t say ‘Yeah sure - you can believe in what gods you want,’ once they start again," Cupid said.
"You won’t be gods in an empty world," Janus said chillingly. "If no more humans believe in you, you will vanish into the void and it’ll be as if you never existed."
There was a long, shocked silence.
Cupid looked at Ares. "Don’t know about you, but I think we should side with these guys."
Ares sighed and nodded. "Tell us what we have to do, Iolaus," he said. "We should all work together to stop this."
Iphicles couldn’t believe this. Ares was actually being calm and putting aside his hate. He caught Kirok looking at him with warning eyes and nodded slightly. Kirok was twice as suspicious now. Iphicles didn’t blame him. This was most unlike the tempestuous god.
Iolaus steepled his hands in front of him. "I did a bit of snooping about while I was in the light." He said. "The real cool thing about these guys is they’re so convinced that everyone is good, that they don’t bother to hide anything. I found out pretty easy how to stop this...and it’s lucky you thought of using these guys, Herc, because we’re going to need Janus and Ares.
The god and the fire elemental regarded each other with distrustful eyes.
"Us?" Janus asked.
"Why us?" Ares chimed in.
"I need to make a sword... shaped by mortal, forged in fire and tempered in the blood of war."
"So we just raid a battlefield for blood, right?" Ares asked his voice sounding nervous.
"It’s not that easy. When I heard Michael say it, that’s what I thought, but then I realised something. The guy was speaking Latin at the time and I’m not too hot on the subject. It’s a fuck of a language at the best of times."
"What did he say?" asked Janus. "Try and remember exactly."
"Extundo mortalis et caminus cremo Ignus," Iolaus said. "Sic cruento Mars."
Janus slammed his hand down on the table. "Shit! Motherfucker! I knew it!"
"What does it mean?" asked Iphicles, alarmed at Janus' outburst.
"He said forged in Fire... as a name... not a noun, and when he said the blood of war, he didn't use bellum, but Mars... the god of war," Janus explained.
"I got that too," Ares said. "It means I have to quench the sword in my blood?"
Janus leered at the god. "I’m sure you can afford a few pints," he said. "I’ll be happy to extract them from you."
"Okay! Flameboy! I've had enough of you!" Ares snarled.
Janus smirked. "And just what do you intend to do about it, dick?"
"Here we go again," Hercules groaned.
Iphicles couldn’t believe how childish they were behaving. He watched Ares, Janus and Hercules all rise from their seats. Each one of them looked as if they were going to kill the other. Iphicles suddenly remembered that Ares was the only one of the gods who could be harmed by mortal means. Maybe Ares' fears were well founded. Perhaps he couldn't trust Janus, just as Janus didn’t trust him.
"ENOUGH!" the king bellowed. Rising to his feet, he pounded on the table. "If the world is at stake we'd better *all* work together. Kill one another afterwards if you like; but for now SIT DOWN!"
Shock settled across the antagonist’s faces as the three figures resumed their seats. Ares examined his nails with an embarrassed air, Janus began to play with the knife he’d been using to eat with and Hercules fixed his eyes on a point of the ceiling. Iphicles saw Kirok smile as he retook his seat and waited for the others to continue.
Hercules finally broke the silence. "So where do you make this sword and what do we do with it once we have it?"
"We destroy the earth and water seals...then we find Michael and stop him from replacing the other two," Iolaus said, a determined look on his face. "The only place I know that will be able to deal with Janus bursting into flames is Hephaestus’ forge. Me, Janus and Ares should go there as soon as we can."
“Uh oh. You trust those two on their own with only Iolaus to field them?” Cupid asked the table in general.
“It’s got to be done,” Iolaus said. “We don’t have time to wait for them to resolve their hatred. You two can work together for as long as this takes, can’t you?” He looked between Janus and Ares.
Janus' eyes narrowed and he abruptly pitched the knife he’d been toying with, straight at the war god, who caught it with a flick of his wrist. They both grinned at each other – not friendly smiles at all... the sort of smiles attacking sharks would use if they could.
Janus finally stood up. "Now is a good time," he said.
"I guess I’m ready," Ares said, his eyes still on the fire elemental.
Iolaus nodded and looked at his lover. "See you soon. Shouldn’t take more than a day."
"So what do we do in the meantime?" Iphicles asked.
"You go do the king thing," Ares ordered.
"Don’t tell me what to do, war god," Iphicles said getting up.
Hercules grabbed Iphicles’ arm. "Not now, Iphy. Please? We can’t do anything until they return with the sword, so you may as well carry on as normal. I’ll...uh...go visit Jason."
"Huh?" asked Jason looking up from where he sat.
"Not you." Hercules smiled. "Though why don’t you come with me? I could use some company."
Iphicles noticed the look Jason gave Kirok and Cupid as the earth spirit nodded in reply to Hercules' offer. The two winged beings were now standing by the window, talking softly.
Iphicles could see the sadness and jealousy in the earth elementals' eyes as Cupid reached up to touch Kirok lovingly on the cheek. They were two feelings he knew very well and he knew exactly how alone Jason felt.
"I’ll go have a swim," Kal said. "I need it." He got up, went to Janus, kissed him and left the room.
"What are you going to do, Kirok?" Iphicles asked, meanwhile trying to distract Kirok from his lover.
"Sleep," Kirok said, turning from Cupid. "I didn’t get much last night."
Iphicles heard a low hiss of displeasure from behind him and turned to see Jason looking angrily at his partner. Kirok didn’t seem to care. He didn't even look at Jason as he went to the sleeping area without a word.
Part 16 Loving Interlude
Cupid flashed into being and looked down at the sleeping Kirok. He couldn’t believe that Kirok had finally said he would be his, after all this time. Cupid sat down on the bed, and stroked the flowing hair, then his cheek, his heart filled with love and happiness. He finally felt alive, knowing that Kirok was his forever.
Kirok's eyelashes fluttered and he slowly opened his eyes. He looked up at his lover and smiled sleepily. "Hey," he whispered.
"I thought I’d take advantage of us being alone," Cupid said. "I don’t think Jason’s very happy about us.”
Kirok shook his head and yawned, stretching cat-like, then brought his arms around Cupid’s neck. He pulled the love god down and kissed him. Cupid felt his heart start to thump loudly in his chest as he tasted Kirok's sweet lips. He deepened the kiss, opening his mouth and entwining his tongue with the pierced and studded tongue of the elementals’.
They kissed urgently for a long moment, and then Kirok pushed his hand against Cupid’s chest. The god sat up slightly. "What’s wrong?" he asked.
"I want to speak to you about Iphicles," Kirok said, his face serious.
"Iphicles? Why? What’s wrong with him?"
"Can’t you feel it? He’s so lonely."
Cupid nodded. "Yeah. I keep thinking about shooting him with one of my arrows, but I can’t decide who he should fall for."
"He’s already in love," Kirok said.
"Ares. Can’t you tell? You’re the god of love." Kirok nuzzled his face into Cupid’s neck and bit gently at his ear. Cupid tried to keep his mind on the matter of the Corinthian king, but Kirok was making it incredibly difficult for him.
"Yeah... well I haven’t seen either of them for a while, you know. It’s not something I worry about - my Uncle Ares' love life. Besides, Uncle Herc said Iphy was hands off, as far as godly interference goes in the love department; he even warned Mom!"
"Ares is just using him and I think Iphy knows it." Kirok leaned down slightly and sucked briefly at an erect nipple.
Cupid quivered underneath the teasing Kirok was giving him. "So what do you want me to do about it?" He asked.
"Not what *you* can do - what *I* can do," Kirok said, his tongue licking once more at Cupid’s neck.
"Am I going to like this?" Cupid asked, letting his head fall back so Kirok could suck and nip at his throat.
"Not sure." Kirok's voice sounded amused. "Are you the jealous type?"
Cupid pulled away and stared at Kirok. "You want to fuck him?" he asked incredulously.
Kirok wrinkled his nose. "I was thinking of letting him fuck me. You know I have... ah... a way with people. I can relieve his loneliness... at least for a while. He’s too busy brooding to be any good to us. Besides, it might help him to resist Ares' natural charms." He leaned forward and lightly licked at Cupid's lips.
Cupid laughed and pushed Kirok down to the bed. “As long as he doesn’t fall for yours instead,” he said. He sat astride Kirok’s slim hips, parted the loose, white robe Kirok was wearing and ran gentle fingers over Kirok's smooth, muscular chest. "Iphy broods all the time. Even if Ares was head over heels in love with him and brought him flowers every day, he’d find something else to sulk about. It’s the way he is." He flicked a finger over the stud embedded in Kirok's navel and smiled at the answering yelp of pleasure.
"I hate seeing him look so sad,” Kirok said at last, reaching for Cupid’s harness and unbuckling it. “He’s done a lot for us, letting us stay here every time we come to this
area - going out of his way to help us now. I felt his loneliness when he was watching us in the garden last night. I want to do something for him." Cupid felt Kirok arch his body upwards, grinding his erect cock into the love god’s own.
Cupid caught hold of a nipple in his teeth, teasing at the hoop that pierced it. He felt his lover shudder and let out a soft gasp.
"It’s lucky I’m not the jealous type then, isn’t it?" he whispered.
Kirok rose from the bed, shaking his curls into order. Cupid lay naked, on his chest, watching his lover as he dressed in his usual black. He was enjoying the rather large smile that was plastered across Kirok's face.
"I like you in white," he commented. Tilting his head to the side, he smiled and met the surprised eyes of his lover.
Kirok looked at him for long moments then shrugged, glowed briefly and his black clothes changed colour to white. "Better?" he asked.
"Do you only have one outfit?" Cupid asked curiously.
Kirok laughed. "What’s this? A fashion show?" He spun round in front of Cupid, arms held out gracefully, hair whirling, as if posing. Cupid had never seen him look so beautiful in his human form, or so relaxed He had fallen for the winged beauty when he’d taken his natural essence and they’d made love in the sky. Now he was falling in love with the human standing before him and he smiled, happy for the first time in millennia.
"I love you, but I don’t know anything about you," he said. "I’m just curious."
"We have eternity to get to know each other. You’ve been with hasty humans for too long."
Cupid made sure Kirok could see his over-exaggerated pout. Kirok sighed and shut his eyes, glowing again. When the light was gone he was dressed in tight black leather pants and an open white shirt, showing off the tops of his hip tattoos and his pierced nipples and navel. The bulge of his cock stood out in sharp relief under the black leather.
Cupid sat up, his eyes popping out and his cock responding immediately. "Woah! Now you can wear that for me anytime."
Kirok smiled, then backed off as his lover got off the bed and advanced on him, a grin on his face. Cupid wanted Kirok again and he was sure Kirok could see the need in his eyes.
"Hey. You're insatiable. Didn’t you get enough?" Kirok asked in a mock angry tone as the love god backed him against the wall.
Cupid grabbed him, brought him close into his arms and kissed him passionately. Breaking the kiss he looked into his lovers' eyes. "Never enough. Never enough of you," he whispered, his voice intense. "You’re mine, Kirok – All mine."
Kirok leaned into the embrace. "Hmmm I like that." He kissed Cupid again briefly and then wriggled, laughing, out of his grasp and nipped the love god on the nose. "Be a nice god and let me go," he said, his brow furrowing.
Cupid did as he was told and, with a thought, dressed himself in his usual clothes – pants, kilt and leather harness. Kirok regarded him, hands on hips. "And you were asking if I only had one outfit!" He said with an uncharacteristic evil little grin.
"Slight problem with the wings," Cupid said. "I can’t get rid of mine like you can. They hold my power."
Kirok raised a slightly glowing hand. "Want me to get rid of them for a while? I can do it." His voice was alight with wicked laughter.
"Uh... no... thanks... I think I'd fall over if I found myself without them. I’m used to them."
The elemental dropped his hand. "Didn’t think so," he said. He left the room without any further ado, leaving Cupid standing there, his mouth agape at his lover's abrupt and very rude exit. The love god started to shake his head and laugh. Aeons of time wouldn't teach his lover to remember human manners.
Catching a glimpse of himself in a bronze mirror hanging on the wall; he wondered what he would look like in a different colour…perhaps white.
Part 17 Forging Passion.
Janus stalked around the forge, briefly touching armour and weapons, his eyes alert and angry as always. Ares slouched casually against a rocky wall, arms folded, one leg propped up on a small box watching the fire-being.
Iolaus, in turn observed his two companions warily. The journey to Hephaestus’ forge hadn’t been a long one, given the powers the two beings had, but every moment, he had been on his guard, knowing that violence could explode between them at any time. He knew there would be nothing he could do about it.
At last Hephaestus made an appearance. He limped into view and smiled as he saw his brother. "Ares. Long time," he commented, then saw Janus.
Iolaus was sure he saw the fire god go pale, and remembered that, to all intents and purposes – if the gods had their own deities, Janus would be one of them. Indeed, the maimed god jolted forward with his limping gait and bowed his head slightly.
"Pyr," he whispered.
"Janus." The elemental corrected.
"What are you here for?" The god asked looking directly at his brother.
"We need to borrow your forge." Iolaus said, coming forward stepping in front of Ares.
He saw an eyebrow raise in a question. "My forge isn’t for just anyone to use. There is a lot of power in there, Iolaus. That power can't be handled by just anyone," he said.
"It’s a matter of life or death." Ares said, moving Iolaus aside. "Those guys up there in the light are causing problems again."
Hephaestus regarded the three thoughtfully, then nodded. "All right. ‘Dite wants me to spend some time with her, anyway. You can use it until I get back."
"Way to go!" Iolaus crowed. "Thanks Hephy."
Hephaestus shook his head. "Bloody mortals… do them a favour and they think they can give you nicknames!" he remarked as he disappeared.
Iolaus turned to Janus. "All right then," he said rubbing his hands
together. "Can you light the forge?"
Janus growled, "What'd you think?" The elemental extended his hands to the brightly glowing fire of the gods. With a gesture he extinguished the flame.
"Hephs’ gonna kill you," Ares said shaking his head.
"He couldn’t!" Janus snickered and exploded into his true form, a being of fire and intense heat.
"Hey! Warn a guy will ya?" Iolaus complained, backing off and running his hands over his singed eyebrows.
Janus couldn’t speak aloud in his proper body, but Iolaus heard his words in his head. *Out of the way.*
Iolaus pulled Ares away from the being and Janus detonated a fireball of white heat into the forge. The forge erupted into flaming heat so intense that it shot out and enveloped the entire centre of the room. Iolaus ducked behind a large shield trying to keep himself from being broiled alive.
"That’s overdoing it a tad," he yelled over the crackling roar of the fire.
He heard Janus laugh evilly inside his head. *Just proving a point to the godling over there. He keeps forgetting what I can do.* He abruptly became human once more.
Iolaus sighed and readied the tools he would need to make the sword. “One small problem,” he said at last. “What do we make the sword from?”
They all looked at each other. Ares suddenly grinned. “I have just the thing,” he said and disappeared.
A few moments later he appeared again, hefting a very large rock.
“What’s that?” asked Iolaus.
“I don’t know. It appeared out of the sky one day, so the soldier who gave it to me as an offering said. It’s iron ore. I thought, as it came from the sky it might make its powers even more effective.”
“It’s a meteorite,” Janus said thoughtfully, running his hand over the stone. “Yes. It’ll do nicely.”
“What’s a meteorite?” Iolaus asked.
Janus frowned at him. “This is,” he said patting the rock.
Iolaus gave up and set to work.
It grew unbearably hot in the forge. Iolaus stripped off his tunic and Ares did the same. The only one unaffected was Janus, but as Iolaus asked him to help with pumping the bellows, he, too, pulled off his leather tunic, his muscles rippling in the red light of the forge, his golden hair falling around his face and body as he concentrated on keeping up a solid rhythm of pumping air.
Ares stood watching, as he often watched Hephaestus when the fire god worked. He loved to watch the controlled power of the fire, being used to forge a thing of war. The fact that it was his brother’s little lover standing there sweating and wiping moisture from his brow as he worked, made him horny. He’d always lusted after the hunter ever since their one time together several years ago, but being with Iphicles, then the business with
the elementals had put his desire out of his mind.
But now he watched the play of red light on Iolaus' damp skin, the way his blond hair darkened and dripped with sweat as the mortal got hotter and hotter. Iolaus took a break for a moment and drank some water, pouring it over his body with a gasp of pleasure. Ares could imagine taking him in his arms and kissing him, making him his. He had once. He could do it again...
"Stop it," Janus said softly in his ear.
Ares rounded on the being. "Stop what?"
"He needs to work. Leave him be. This is important... besides... he’s still one of us. You really wouldn’t want to take him while he was linked with one of us."
"I think I couldn’t handle it." Ares said with a sneer. "I’m a god remember."
"And what did I do to you, war god?" Janus asked, moving closer so that Ares could feel the heat of his body, the scent of his lightly sweated skin. He looked into the fire being’s blue eyes and remembered exactly what Janus had done to him. He felt an irrational fear gnaw at him and stepped back slightly, trying to look nonchalant.
Janus closed the gap between them his breath hot on the god's cheek. "You do remember," he said, casting a sardonic smile. "Do you also remember the wanting?"
Ares shuddered, looking into the fire in Janus' eyes. Truth be told, he knew he wanted the elemental the day he spared his life. He wanted to feel the power he knew Janus possessed. "Don't flatter yourself," was all he could say, spitting out the words.
"You don't fool anyone, war god," Janus quipped, leaning even closer. He stopped suddenly, pulled from his task of belittling the god by Iolaus' voice.
"It's finished," The hunter said proudly. Ares watched as Iolaus lifted the blade, glowing bright hot. "Well almost, just one thing left to do."
Ares stepped back reflexively as Iolaus walked toward him.
"Quench the fire with your blood," Janus said, his deep voice almost hypnotic. "Feel the heat - the need of the flame in your soul." His eyes were fixed on Ares, his expression lazy and aroused by the nearness of the flames he had kindled in the forge – and in the Olympian’s body. "Experience what I feel, war god. Let the fire envelop you, draw you in and hold you…the metal is so white hot, it's like the sun…it can overpower you! Be careful or it can control you…instead of you controlling it! Feel it, war god.... Feel how I feel.”
Ares stepped back again. "I... uh..." incoherent need rose up in him at Janus' soft words, but he stared at the glowing blade as if it was a snake poised to strike. He had been dreading this moment, wondering just how much immortal life-force it would take to put out the fire in this vitally important sword.
He heard the soft ‘slush’ of a knife being withdrawn from its scabbard and swallowed down his fear. It would have to be done. He was the god of war. He wanted to…no, he needed to be in control.
Janus turned to Iolaus. "Leave us. I’ll do this." He took hold of the glowing sword with his naked hand, and it took on the same glow, keeping the sword heated and ready for its baptism of blood.
Iolaus looked unsure, knowing of the hatred these two felt for each other. "If you’re sure..."
"I’m sure. Ares won’t want a mortal seeing this. Go." Iolaus turned and walked out of the forge.
Ares backed off one more step as Janus advanced, the wickedly sharp knife glinting in the firelight.
"It won’t hurt much, war god," he said. "Besides, we *still* need you.”
Ares held out his hand and stilled the tremor in his arm. He could only remember being this afraid once, and that time it had been the same being that had instilled that fear in him. Janus moved so close, Ares could feel the tickle of his long golden hair on his arm. He bent over the god's wrist, putting the point of the knife to Ares’ skin. He shut his eyes as pain shot through his body and he felt the wet heat of his immortal blood washing over his wrist and hissing malevolently down onto the sword.
He opened his eyes and watched, feeling weakness overcome him as his life’s fluid gushed out over the super-heated metal, becoming cooler, turning black. He could smell the stench of scorched blood and the tang of iron in the air.
"That’s enough," Janus said. "Stop it."
Ares shut his eyes and concentrated on stopping the blood from flowing. He didn’t heal the cut just yet. He knew that this quenching would not be the last. Janus lifted the sword, looking at it critically.
"It’s black," Ares whispered. "I’ve never seen anything so fucking ugly in my life."
Janus nodded. "It doesn’t have to be a thing of beauty. It’ll destroy the tablets without releasing the horsemen. That’s our goal." He put the sword down on the anvil then turned back to Ares; his eyes still filled with hot, blue fire. He reached for Ares’ blooded hand then lifted the cut to his lips, kissing it, then slowly licking the blood from Ares’ skin.
"Now I want you," he whispered.
Ares shut his eyes and felt the soft prickle of Janus' facial hair on his lips and the scent of his own blood on the elemental's skin. He couldn’t help himself. He reached for the golden hair, grabbed a handful of it and pulled Janus closer, kissing him so hard he felt his lip split. Janus responded, pushing him roughly against the wall, his tongue invading and exploring. Ares opened his eyes; his whole body filled with need and desire. He thrust his hips forward, grinding his hardness into Janus' cock; already hard and pulsing against his own. He was burning, lost in the heat.
Janus' hand rubbed crudely at his crotch, ripping open his leather pants, his breath harsh in Ares’ ears. Ares moaned, his nails raking a path down Janus' body, catching his nipples and raising long red welts, drawing blood. Janus shuddered and Ares went back up to those twin nubs of sensation and squeezed them cruelly. He felt Janus' answering moan and those hard, merciless lips once more on his.
With a thought, he removed his clothes, wanting to be skin against skin with the being. His whole body ached with lust, his cock straining upwards, begging for a touch. Janus pulled away from the god and looked down at the throbbing flesh. He touched the tip gently, spreading the wetness of Ares’ need around the helmet, a cruel smile on his face.
He grabbed hold of the war god and pushed him to the anvil, forcing him down across it, then he too was naked, his purpling cock jutting out from a nest of golden curls. Ares felt the black sword cut into the skin of his back, and he arched upwards in pain as Janus met his cock with his mouth, going right down on him and then pulling his mouth slowly off the hot flesh, sucking hard.
Ares cried out, pushing his hips up, wanting more, but Janus wasn’t going to let him come that easily. Ares could feel the almost flaming wetness of the elementals tongue swirling around the head of his cock, the scrape of his teeth as he went down once more and swallowed him wholly.
Ares gritted his teeth, unused to such a violent lover It was usually him doing the taking, him doing the hurting; but he needed this, had needed it since the first time Janus had forced him to kneel in front of him and suck him, his body filled with deathly flame. He cried out and rammed his cock down Janus' throat, grabbing his hair and thrusting upwards, hearing the fire-beings growl of lust vibrate around the wanting flesh. He shuddered, wanting more.
Janus stopped sucking him and went down to his balls, tonguing the heavy globes and taking them one by one in his mouth and suckling. Ares felt hot fingers at his asshole, stroking and tantalising until he could bear it no longer and ground down on those seeking digits. Janus abruptly thrust two fingers into him and began to finger fuck him hard, his mouth once more, found Ares’ cock, biting at the ridge of his helmet, sending the war god into paroxysms of desire.
He moaned incoherently, not wanting to plead to get fucked, but wanting it just the same. He opened his eyes as fingers and mouth were withdrawn from him and Janus parted his thighs, pushing them upwards. He looked into Janus' cruel eyes and nodded, telling him silently it was what he wanted. He reached up and squeezed a nipple and was gratified to hear Janus' gasp of pain, then he let out his own shout as Janus thrust hard inside him, uncaring that he would hurt.
Ares felt the pain once more of the sword cutting into his back but lay back on the blade, feeling Janus' hands grab his hair, and withdraw from his body, then ram back in. He groaned, his hips rising to meet the hard thrust. He reached forward to grab the silken flesh of Janus' ass-cheeks, pulling him closer.
Janus bent over the god, his hips pumping back and forth pounding into the god’s willing body. Their lips met again, kissing and biting, relishing the pain. Ares felt the hold on his hair tighten and with an animal cry of pleasure Janus came hard inside him. Ares jolted, momentarily terrified of what this being could do to him, and then pulled him closer, wanting him deep as possible inside his body, feeling the elementals seed fill him.
The only sound was their harsh breathing as Janus bent forward, laying his head briefly on Ares’ chest. He licked quickly at Ares’ nipple then stood up, tossing his hair out of his face, then withdrawing abruptly. Ares stood up and caught the long hair, pulling Janus close once more, biting at his neck.
"My turn," he said forcefully.
Janus nodded and moved to the anvil. Ares bent him over it and caught Janus' hips, parting his cheeks and plunging hard into him, wanting to give Janus the pleasure/pain that Janus had given him. He felt the being beneath him shudder and snarl in surprise, then push back onto his cock. Ares ran his hands down the beings back, feeling the slowly growing heat of his skin beneath his fingers. He once more dug his nails in and bent to lick at the slow trickle of blood they left. The scent and taste of the being’s body was intoxicating. He had wanted this for so long, but hadn’t admitted it to himself, hadn’t admitted the lusting fear Janus permeated into him.
Now Janus was beneath him, impaled on his cock and Ares was going to fuck him as hard as he could. He grinned in brutal enjoyment and rammed his cock hard and fast into the elemental, letting the ecstasy of the danger take him into delirium. He was aware of Janus' cries and gasps, the hard pounding of his cock into the hot, velvet depths of the fire-being’s body and his mounting climax. He could also feel runnels of blood coursing down his back from the sword-inflicted cuts, the pain in his wrist from Janus' knife. Never had he felt so many different sensations, never had he been so aroused
as he was now, caught up in the heat and the pain.
With a cry, he reached a thundering completion, and withdrew, as his seed jetted from his cock and let it fall over Janus' back and ass-cheeks, pearly drops mixing with the sweat darkened gold of Janus' long locks. Janus swore hoarsely and fell forward onto the anvil and Ares felt him quiver beneath his hands, as he too, came once more, his seed falling onto the sword and mingling with the war god’s blood.
Once more there was silence then Ares moved away from Janus and clothed himself. Janus stood up and blazed into fire for little more than a second. When the light died down he was once more clothed and looked as fresh as a daisy, unlike the hot, sweaty, blood covered god. Ares scowled and with another thought, cleaned himself up. He had been so lost in the animal lust for the being he hadn’t thought of his surroundings; the blood and the sweat, the heat and the seed of their desire.
Janus picked up the sword and ran a finger along the length of the blade, wiping off the fresh blood and his own semen. He glanced at Ares, licked his fingers, and then smiled his cruel, feline smile as he offered them to Ares. Ares slowly, without taking his eyes from the fire-spirit, took the fingers in his mouth and sucked them clean. Janus nodded approvingly and put the sword down.
"I think it’s finished," he said.
Part 18 Accusation And Healing.
Hercules and Jason walked back to Corinth in the gathering dusk. They’d had a good day, visiting with Hercules' old friend and officially his stepfather. Jason now headed the academy that Hercules and Iolaus had attended, when they had been teenagers. The earth being had been encouraged to show off his own fighting skills, and had begun to spar playfully with Hercules with a staff of wood.
The demigod had been surprised when he had found himself sprawled in the dirt after only a few blows, and he realised that the smaller man hadn’t pulled any of his hits. He had been even more alarmed to see the look in Jason’s dark blue eyes when he leaned over him – an expression of anger and disdain - and Hercules had been aware of the subtle hum of power surrounding the elemental.
The boys at the academy had enjoyed the show, though and had all taken turns to attempt to beat the demigod. They had seen the slim, black-clad and unassuming man take him down, and now they’d wanted a go. Hercules had laughingly let them play, but he was troubled. Jason seemed to be eaten up by something he couldn’t name. He resolved to ask the earth spirit about it as they walked back to Corinth.
Hercules glanced at Jason as they walked, wondering how to open the conversation. Jason walked silently, his rock-like visage closed as he strode soundlessly beside the demigod.
"Jason...why do you hate me?" Hercules asked at last.
Jason looked up. "You think I hate you?" he returned.
"You’re making it pretty obvious. Back there, it was more than just sparing. You were really fighting me. I could feel it."
"You’re half god. I knew you could take it," Jason replied, his voice void of emotion.
"I don’t think so," Hercules said forcefully. "That wasn’t what I was getting from you."
Jason stopped and cast out a ball of blue light that illuminated the path in eerie shadows. "You’re right, but I’m not Janus. I’m not going to let the way I feel interfere with the work we have to do."
"But why? What have I done to you?" Hercules' voice was sincere. He had always liked the friendly man in front of him, always gotten on well with him. Out of the four elementals, he was the most human - the voice of reason. He honestly believed they had a lot in common.
Jason looked around the clearing, refusing to meet Hercules' eyes. "You were his first." He balled his hands into two tight fists. "He was content with our way of pleasure, then you showed him the human way and I lost him," he said.
"Kirok?" Hercules suddenly understood Jason's emotional outburst.
Jason nodded. "I knew he couldn’t or wouldn’t totally love me, but we were happy together in our link. We were one, then you fucked him, gave him the gift of human desire, and he fell in love with Cupid. Our link is fading more and more every day. We're no longer as close as we once were."
"That can’t be true. You didn’t see the look on his face when you fell sick. He was scared for you," Hercules argued.
"You have to remember, without each other, we die. He was probably more afraid for himself," Jason said bitterly. "It’s all your fault, demigod. I can’t give him what he desires. I can’t take him the way he wants, and now I ’ll never have his love. Even now, as we speak, he’s making love with your brother and yes it’s true. I hate you. I hate you for what you taught him."
The earth elemental turned and carried on walking, without another word.
Hercules stood dumbfounded for a moment. Kirok and Iphicles? They were...? He had to get back to the castle, but first he had to make things right with Jason.
He ran after the angry Jason, grabbed his shoulder and spun him round. He didn't want Jason to hate him and truly believed that they could set things straight between them. He had to reason things out with the elemental.
"Jase. Please, you have to listen to me," he said forcefully.
Jason glared at him, folding his arms, his eyes shining bright azure in the darkness. "Go ahead," he said tightly.
"I know you’re hurting, but… it’s not my fault. If Kirok had loved you, then nothing would’ve gotten in the way of that love." Hercules paused wanting to find the right words. "Physical pleasure wouldn’t be enough to divide you. I know it, and if you look deep enough you do as well. Look at what happened with Iolaus and Janus once they were linked. Iolaus chose to come back to me, because he loves me... and he knows I love him," Hercules urged.
"That’s different," Jason said sadly. "You’re human. Humans can find other mates; and you don't have our life-span. It's not like we can just link with anyone we please. There are not a lot of choices out there for our kind. But now things are worse; we’re stuck together like this. He doesn’t love me and he doesn’t understand how much I love him. Or what his being with Cupid does to me."
"No matter what you say, I know he does care for you in his own way. I understand loving and losing. I know it hurts beyond words but you have to go on. If you don't and let it eat you up inside, what kind of a life would that be? You'll get over it eventually, you have to." Hercules tried to be reassuring.
Jason laughed bitterly. "You’ll never understand. Do you know what fifty BILLION years feels like without love? At least we were together and nothing came between us, like now. He didn't know the intensity of physical love...he couldn’t know... humans don’t fall in love with us, but gods...gods are different, and you opened the door for him to love Cupid."
Hercules tried to calm the angry elemental down. "It’s true I took his virginity, but believe me, I saw Cupid's face the first time he ever saw Kirok. He wanted him and he would’ve taken him eventually, even without what Kirok and I shared. I can understand you hating me, but Cupid wouldn’t give up. Kirok resisted him. You know he did, but in the end they had to have each other."
Hercules touched Jason’s shoulder in sympathy. "No one is to blame. You just have to accept that Kirok just doesn’t love you, the way you love him and never will, but at least you’re together...think about Janus. He still loves Klas, even though he has Kal. He hurts every day for his dead lover and Kal will never mean as much to him.
Jason raised his head sharply. "Bad analogy demigod. If Kirok were dead, I would be dead too; there would be no pain and I wouldn't have lost anything. I was deprived of the little we had together the day you made love to him, Hercules. I can never forgive you for that." Looking away he whispered, "And it does seem that Kal and I have more in common than I thought."
He glowed bright blue for a moment, then changed form into the delicate, gold and silver shot, flower and plant entwined being Hercules had only ever seen once before, then he was gone, leaving Hercules alone.
Safe in the womb, deep in the loving depths of the sea, drifted a still form, eyes shut, a peaceful expression on his face. Fish swam up to him and nudged him, sharks and turtles swam around him, curiously then swam away. An octopus curled loving tentacles around his waist; bit gently at his fingers then jetted off.
Even whispering mer-people came to see what this being was and seeing he was asleep, not dead, safe in the arms of the sea they loved, they left him alone.
The being drifted, embraced by his element, home and healing. He stirred slightly as the sun’s first rays touched the water, his blond hair changing colour slowly, deepening into a warm amber. He abruptly awoke and changed form into the rippling colours of the ocean, the huge manta wings propelling him back towards the shore.
As he walked from the water, back to the land and changed form once more to the small, impish-faced leather-clad human, he stopped, and lifted a lock of tawny hair in his hand, looking at it sadly. He sighed and his form wavered and fluttered once more.
When he walked slowly back to the castle, the hair drifting on the night air and swinging around his hips was once more the colour of ripened wheat.
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