Unforgiven Soul: Conclusion
By Spooky

Part 19:  Wings of Solace.

Cupid spent a little time trying to figure out how to follow Kirok without the elemental knowing he was there and finally came up with changing himself into a ghostly form with no apparent godly energy. He shadowed his lover through the empty corridors of the castle, pleased that Kirok hadn't noticed him, and passed through the wall of Iphicles' bedchamber, shuddering at the sensation of cold stone passing through his body. He didn't much like it and decided he'd use the door next time.

He watched as Iphicles rose from the bed at Kirok's knock, drew on a loose robe, hiding his superb nakedness, and went to see who was disturbing him at this hour.

"Oh. Kirok. I was in bed," he said softly as he saw who his visitor was.

"Do you want me to leave?" Kirok asked, his own voice just as quiet.

"Uh... no… no…please come in. I was having a hard time sleeping anyway," Iphicles moved aside allowing the elemental to enter. Kirok looked around, as Iphicles shut the door and regarded the spirit from frowning eyes. "Is there something I can help you with?" He asked at last.

Kirok turned to the king. "Actually I want to help you. I can feel how lonely you are," he said. "You remind me of me... the way I've been for longer than you could imagine. I want to help."

The king studied the elemental for a long time before he spoke. "No one can help me," Iphicles said, his voice bitter. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I've finally realised that even though I run an entire kingdom; I'm doomed to either be alone, or the part time lover of a god who doesn't care how I feel and the brother of a demigod who only lectures me and tries to control my life. Then of course there is always the threat of having to choose between them. If I'm with Ares, Herc hates it, and if I'm not, Ares gets possessive. I can't win either way."

Kirok drifted over to the king, his body moving smoothly in his strange gliding walk. He reached out and touched the king's cheek. "I can help you." His voice was a mere breath.

Iphicles leaned his head against the stroking fingers and shut his eyes. "You made me feel better when we...when you...when I touched your wings," he said.

"And you can do it again if you wish. Would you like that?" Kirok stroked away a stray curl of copper hair and touched his lips briefly to Iphicles' forehead.

"More than anything," Iphicles said. "You took away my sadness. You made me feel safe. I don't care what Hercules says. What I felt was real."

Kirok smiled. "That's because it is real," he said and changed form.

The watching love god felt his heart leap at the beauty of his lover and he shifted uncomfortably, his cock responding to Kirok's naked body.

Iphicles, too, stepped back and ran his eyes over the air elementals' slim form, reaching out to touch, with a single finger, the flamed tattoos that Cupid always found so fascinating, and then the stud piercing Kirok's navel.

"I wish I could fly with you," Iphicles said sadly.

Kirok moved closer and his hands stroked lightly over Iphicles' chest then round his neck. They kissed, tongues exploring and tasting each other, then Kirok moved downwards, parting the folds of Iphicles' robe, fingers teasing at erect nipples and tangling in the furred chest. He kissed and licked at first one, then the other nipple, and the king gasped softly, bringing his arms round the elemental's body and burying his hands in the feathered wings. Kirok let out a light moan and let his head fall back.

Cupid knew how sensitive those wings were and his excitement grew. His hand crept to the opening of his pants and he released his hard cock from its confines, stroking at it gently.

Iphicles took advantage of the baring of Kirok's throat, and bit gently at the dusky skin, then licked his way downward until he reached the gold ring embedded in Kirok's left nipple. He caught it in his teeth and pulled slightly, then suckled at the hard nub of flesh. Kirok quivered in his arms, his wings sweeping upwards and lifting them slightly into the air. Iphicles jolted, and grabbed onto Kirok's body, swearing violently.

Cupid smiled, and teased the very tip of his cock with his thumb, shutting his eyes feeling his body tremor beneath his own familiar touch.

Kirok laughed a little and set himself and the astonished king back down on the carpet. "Sorry," he said. "You took me by surprise." He took Iphicles' hand and led him to the bed. "It won't happen here," he said looking up at the curtained canopy above them. He pushed the king down, and straddled his waist, lifting his wings slightly to clear the mattress.

Iphicles had a confused look on his handsome face. It was as if he didn't know what to do with this being who was telling him what to do and at the same time still was so submissive. Cupid knew the feeling well. He watched Kirok bend to kiss Iphicles again, and let out his own soft sigh of pleasure as he teased gently at his cock, letting the feeling of pressure build so incredibly slowly. He licked a finger and brushed it over an erect nipple taking delight in the cooling wetness as he kept an eye on the two lovers on the bed.

Iphicles was touching Kirok's body, running gentle hands over lightly muscled arms and chest, down to slim hips, then along satin, flame-etched thighs. Kirok was kissing him all over his neck and chest with slow sensual kisses and small nipping bites. Every now and then he would lift his head and flick his tongue out at the king's lips or bite down hard on a nipple, eliciting a gasp and arching of hips from the man beneath him.

Iphicles wrapped his hands once more in the feathered warmth; sitting up slightly and feeling the powerful appendages enfold him safely. He leaned his head on the hot, spice-scented skin and felt the beat of the being's heart beneath his ear.

Cupid shut his eyes once more; using his godly power to sink into what Iphicles was experiencing. It was like he was making love to Kirok for the first time once more, seeing him through the eyes of the mortal, feeling Iphicles' need and loneliness, the sanctuary of the wings holding him near. The sensation brought tears to his eyes, and he dropped his hand away from his cock He couldn't watch this. This wasn't just lust; this was the healing of a desperately isolated and love-divided man.

He ghosted back out of the room, careful to use the door this time. As he left, he heard Kirok's gentle voice in his head.

*Thank you for understanding.*

He smiled. Trust Kirok to know he was there.


Iphicles sat encompassed by the benign velvet of the shining wings, his eyes shut, all need gone from his body. Finally relaxed, at peace and tranquil for the first time since Rena had died; Iphicles finally felt whole. He felt the wings move slightly and looked up at the calm face of the elemental. Kirok moved forward and kissed him, his soft, full lips abruptly awakening the desire once more. He opened his lips and Kirok's warm tongue entered, flicking at the roof of his mouth, then entwining with his own tongue. The kiss deepened, and Iphicles pulled Kirok closer, letting out a small sigh of pleasure, softly stroking a warm shoulder.

He could feel his cock nudging up against Kirok's ass-cheeks, and arched his hips slightly, rubbing his hardness against the smooth skin. Kirok smiled enigmatically, and pushed Iphicles down once more to the bed, his wings moving backwards and arching above them. He moved so one leg was pressed gently against Iphicles' balls, the other by his side, his hands stroking feather light over Iphicles' skin. The king gasped again and reached for his lover, wanting more and more of him. The elemental kissed his neck, his ear lobes, his cheeks, even his eyelids and Iphicles let himself fall into the spell the being was weaving on him.

He could feel Kirok's hips now pressed against his own, his cock warm against his thigh. Kirok moved down and took a slow taste of Iphicles' cock, his mobile tongue swirling around the tip, then going down gently on him. Enclosing his whole length in his mouth and sucking deliciously up and down the hard flesh, the metal stud in his tongue vibrating over the cock and sending tremors of need through Iphicles' body.

Iphicles let out an oath, his whole body trembling. He could feel the slight scrape of Kirok's teeth, the warmth of his mouth like velvet on his sensitive flesh He opened his eyes and looked down; Kirok was on his knees, wings outstretched, his powerful hands pulling against the king's hips as he took his time sucking him to completion. Iphicles' body started to shake as Kirok worked him toward climax, using only his studded tongue and lips.

"Please…." he whispered his voice sounding strange to his ears. Kirok stopped what he as doing and Iphicles let out a groan of frustration. "Please," he said again.

Kirok gave Iphicles a wicked grin, and pushed him back to the bed. The king reached for Kirok as the smaller being knelt above him, running his hands up and down his flanks; his eyes filled with desire, his wings trembling like a feathered canopy above them.

"Take me." Iphicles whispered. Kirok smiled and covered his body, kissing him once more, marking him again with his teeth. Iphicles let out a tiny hiss of pleasure as he felt Kirok's tongue lick downward once more to his nipples then suckle on them one by one, his fingers exploring Iphicles' navel then down to the nest of curled black hair. Iphicles groaned and thrust his hips upward, then let out a small cry as Kirok went down and parted his legs, taking his balls in his mouth and sucking on them gently, licking strongly at the sac with his pierced tongue.

Iphicles tossed his head, made delirious by the pleasure Kirok was giving him, then he whimpered in surprise as Kirok parted his legs further and started to lap at his tight asshole, probing inside, then licking gently at the smooth skin between his balls and ass. The king was overwhelmed by the sensation - the combination of hot, wet tongue and hard metal - and parted his legs further, groaning with need, his hands reached down of their own accord and caught at soft, black ringlets of hair.

Kirok lifted his head and started once more to suck gently at the needy cock, two fingers entering the king's wet and willing hole. Iphicles jumped in shock then let out another low moan as Kirok began to move his fingers in and out, pushing harder as Iphicles thrust downwards, wanting the fingers deeper inside him. It had been so long and he needed this more than anything.

The elemental hit the king's pleasure spot and Iphicles suddenly shrieked and grabbed at the sides of the bed, holding on for all he was worth as pleasure flooded his body. Kirok moved upward, his fingers still moving in and out, and kissed Iphicles again, the metal piercing his tongue rubbing up against the roof of his mouth. The king grabbed him, his hips moving in time with Kirok's hand, desperately seeking the hot, willing lips.

"Fuck me, Kirok," he gasped into the elemental's kiss. "Fuck me hard. Please."

Kirok drew away, uncertainty in his eyes. "I've never.." he started.

"I don't care! Do it... please. You have no idea how much I need it," Iphicles demanded in low, throaty tones.

Kirok sat up, looking away from his lover. "I can't.. I don't know how," he said, his voice shaking. His wings mirrored his nervousness, the pinions rustling together like wind through trees.

Iphicles leaned up on his elbows and regarded the elemental. He took Kirok's cheek in his hand and made the elemental look at him. "You mean to say you've never fucked anyone before?"

Kirok shook his head. The king sat forward and kissed his lips once more. "Then its about time you learned," he whispered, and pushed Kirok away slightly, turning over and presenting his back to the being, laying on his side.

There was a pause. Then he heard the rustle of wings again and felt soothing warmth settling against his back, felt the feather-light kisses on his shoulder, trailing down his shoulder blade, while Kirok's hand reached around him to tug painfully at his erect nipple. The contrasting sensations had Iphicles' hips thrusting backwards against Kirok where he was driven wild by the promise of the hard cock grazing against his ass.

"Please," he groaned, twisting until he was at the right angle and the elemental's cock was between the cheeks of his ass.

He heard an in-drawn breath, whether of passion or misgiving, Iphicles couldn't tell, and then Kirok's fingers were sliding into him again, working him until he was moaning and his cock was leaking with frustration and need. They finally withdrew, and Iphicles could feel the clumsily probing warmth at his entrance. He held his breath in anticipation as he felt the first tentative push. He could hear Kirok's uneven breathing behind him, and suddenly realised. His inviting position might not be the easiest angle for Kirok's first ever attempt at fucking.

"Hold on," he said, fighting his need for the elemental long enough to deal with this. He wanted this to be right for Kirok as well, Reaching behind him, he found Kirok's right hip and pushed him away slightly to ensure he was disengaged before Iphicles turned over completely onto his front, drawing himself back so that his weight was taken on his hands and knees. "It'll be easier for you this way," he said.

There was a small chuckle, and he heard the elemental moving, feeling the warmth at his hole again, and a hand reaching round to his cock. "And for you?" Kirok asked, his hand closing around Iphicles' straining erection with a touch that had the king gasping and shuddering.

There was a sudden silence, and then he felt Kirok's hands tentatively stroke at the crevice of his ass. He shivered as goose bumps rose up on his skin and he raised his head. "There's some oil over there," he said pointing to the table beside the bed. He felt Kirok reach over him and get the bottle, then the sound of it being opened and the fragrance of almonds filled the air. A moment later the cool trickle of oil flooded down between his cheeks and dripped over his balls. He, once more, felt strong, warm hands on his skin, spreading the oil everywhere as his muscles relaxed, then once again, those probing fingers entered him. He moaned into the pillow, the need to be fucked and fucked hard, enveloping his body. He pushed back onto the fingers and reached round and back to stroke Kirok's thigh. He caught hold of the taut flesh and pulled him closer.

"Just fuck me," he was pleading, offering his ass, and then he stopped breathing at the sudden familiar pain as he was entered. Kirok did so uncertainly, gently - his cock slick, a world away from Ares' un-lubricated, brutal penetrations. Iphicles thrust back, groaning, demanding Kirok's full length inside him. With a cry, Kirok sheathed himself and Iphicles felt the touch of dark ringlets on his back as the elemental's head bowed while he fought for breath at the amazing sensation.

"It's so tight," Kirok gasped out.

Iphicles clenched his muscles and Kirok's gasps turned to cries. Still panting at the unaccustomed sensations, Kirok seemed to know what the king wanted and thrust strongly into Iphicles, driving his size deep into the king until Iphicles screamed with the pain and delight of the elemental's huge cock thrusting into him.

Iphicles bit his lip, feeling as if he would split open; the guy was so fucking huge. He thanked whatever deities were listening that Ares had always used him so roughly. He hadn't been entered this way for three years and it felt great. He moaned again as Kirok's cock filled and stretched him, until he felt the soft pressure of the being's balls pressing against his ass.

They were still for a moment. Iphicles could feel the tremoring of Kirok's body vibrating through him and even that slight movement was enough to send waves of need pulsing through his own cock. Kirok leaned forward, pushing the king's hair away from the nape of his neck, then he felt soft lips kiss him there. "I don't want to hurt you," Kirok whispered.

Iphicles was starting to get desperate by now and he moved back slightly, trying to give Kirok the idea that he wanted him to move, wanted to be hurt, but the infuriating being just moved back with him, tantalising him. The soft brush of fingers over the head of his cock made him jerk forwards into the touch and Kirok chose that moment to pull out of him slightly, then slide slowly back into him, pushing him down to the bed.

"By the gods!" Iphicles gasped as he felt Kirok's cock plunge deeper within him.

"The gods have nothing to do with this," Kirok purred into the king's ear, his voice teasing and playful, his breath hot against the kings neck. "Tell me Iphicles what do *you* want?" Kirk moved his hips, sliding his cock almost completely out of the king. "What do you need?"

Getting fucked was what he wanted, what he needed, to feel complete again. Ares would have fucked him hard like this, intent on his own pleasure. Yet Kirok was focused on giving the king total gratification. His hand was still on Iphicles' cock. With every thrust of his hips he lovingly caressed the king's hardness, sliding it through his tight hand until Iphicles' head was bowed and he was trembling. He was barely able to support himself on straining arms, his hair damp and curling on his neck, his cries incoherent as Kirok's cock thrust again and again into his tight ass, then stopped once more, tantalising, pulling out almost completely.

Iphicles moaned at the emptiness and tried to thrust backward, wanting to be filled again.

Wanting to be complete…


Wanting to be alive...


"Fuck me, Kirok…make me whole again…I need you!" He shouted, shutting his eyes tightly as the elemental began an ever-increasing rhythm, drawing each of them into their climax.

He began to move back and forth in time, matching stroke for thrust. The king screamed at his touch; he could feel energy flowing through his body like nothing he had ever felt before.

"Kirok!" Iphicles screamed as he came, his seed flowing over the sheets.

Kirok released Iphicles. The king could feel his lover ready to come, as his thrusts became harder and faster He felt Kirok shudder and mewl in ecstasy as he emptied his seed deep inside Iphicles. Slowly he lowered his body next to the king, his cock still impaling him, blanketing both of them with his wing. They lay like that for quite some time breath ragged, hearts pounding.

After, what seemed like hours, Iphicles roused himself and pushed his sweaty hair out of his face. He lifted a hand slightly and stroked it gently down the feathers that covered him like a luxurious quilt. He felt a brief pang of loss as Kirok lifted the wing and folded it back out of the way.

Kirok carefully withdrew his still hard cock from Iphicles' body and sat up, melting back into human form and then lay back down on the bed, this time on his back. Iphicles turned over and smiled at the man, reaching for a stray curl and entwining it in his fingers.

"Why did you do that?" He asked.

"You try laying on your back with those things in the way," Kirok returned, his voice amused.

"Oh... yeah... never thought about that," Iphicles leaned down and kissed Kirok tenderly. "So what did you think?"

"Of what?" Kirok's dark eyes were teasing.

"Forgotten so soon? I'm hurt," Iphicles said, sticking his lip out in a mock pout.

Kirok flicked a finger over the overhanging lip. "It was good," he said.

"Is that all?" Iphicles frowned. He didn't expect the spirit to wax eloquent on how wonderful fucking him had been, but he expected more.

Kirok shut his eyes. "Sorry. I forget sometimes," he said. "Humans need...compliments."

Iphicles looked at the lovely being lying next to him and had to force himself to remember that Kirok wasn't human - didn't think, even feel emotion, or love the way he did. For all he knew, the very concept of pleasure was alien to the elemental and he was just reacting to the way he saw others behave.

Kirok suddenly sat up and kissed Iphicles hard. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. You blew my mind and I'm not thinking right."

The king grinned. "I think you just gave me the best compliment I ever had," he said. "No one ever told me I blew their mind, before."

Kirok flicked his tongue over Iphicles' lips, then his ear lobe, the gold stud sending shivers over the monarch's body once more. "Now it's your turn," he said quietly.

Part 20:  Recriminations (warning:  rape)

Hercules strode towards his brothers bed chamber; determined at any cost to stop what Jason said was happening in Iphicles' bedroom. He was angry, he had told Iph not to get involved with the elementals... it was too dangerous, and his infuriating sibling had totally ignored him.

Gods... look. Iphicles had even dismissed his guards. No one was stood outside his door. It wasn't as if the king had no enemies. Anyone could walk in and murder him in his bed, or kidnap him. What was the stupid idiot thinking of?

He threw open the door and went in, intending to give Iphicles a piece of his mind, but he stopped, seeing his brother on the bed with Kirok and all thoughts of telling his sibling off, fled from his mind.

Iphicles had Kirok on his hands and knees and his cock deep inside the elemental. Kirok's huge wings swept upwards and quivered tautly as Iphicles slammed in and out of the spirit's ass, one hand on Kirok's straining cock, milking him roughly. Hercules could see the look of total ecstasy on their faces, and, as he watched, both arrived at shuddering, screaming climaxes, calling out for one another. Hercules could feel the waves of desire and need flooding out of them and hurtling towards him, crashing over him like a tidal wave.

Kirok's pleasure washed over the demigod, deluging him with the elemental's feelings, and emotions. Hercules was overwhelmed as he felt his cock grow hard and his breath quicken. Unable to stand it any longer, he turned and walked out of the room, his whole body filled with terrible hunger, his cock almost ready to burst. He needed...he wanted...

The confused demigod leaned against the wall outside Iphicles chambers and tried to calm his pounding head and regain control over his breathing. He could feel cold sweat trickling down his back his whole body shaking in lust. Gods...what was happening to him?

"Hercules? Are you all right?" He could hear the soft, liquid tones of Kal beside him. Hercules turned to see the small water elemental looking at him, those huge, innocent, green eyes looking concerned. The demigod didn't think, just reacted, grabbing Kal by the shoulders and pushing him against the wall.

"Herc!?" Kal let out a small cry of surprise as the large man pinned him against the wall, plundering his mouth with no finesse or thought. His hand fumbled at his pants, releasing his aching cock from its tight confines and with a strong jerking motion ripped down Kal's own soft black pants.

"No..." Kal choked out, struggling wildly, his half-human strength and tiny size not enough to push away the demigod's craving lust. Hercules pushed him over to a large ornamental chest that sat by the wall. Kal came crashing down hard, his lip splitting open from the force; blood trickled down his chin. "Hercules…please stop." The whispered plea went disregarded, as with an incoherent cry, the demigod slammed his cock hard inside the cool, dry entrance, uncaring of the force he used, unheeding of Kal's' scream of pain. He wanted to fuck and fuck hard. He wanted to drive his cock deep inside the being beneath him until he bled. He no longer cared, he just wanted.

Beneath him, Kal screamed, trying desperately to push the demigod away from his unwanted penetration and Hercules forced his head down, grabbing him by the neck and biting into the soft nape, drawing blood. Kal yowled in pain and Hercules moved his hand round to his mouth, clamping his palm over the spirit's lips, almost suffocating him. He could feel Kal struggling for breath and moaning under his fingers.

"Shut up You little bastard.!" He rasped out.

Kal struggled once more and Hercules could feel him trying to change into his true form, his body rippling and wavering on his plunging cock. He crashed his fist against the back of the elemental's head. Kal slumped in pain and Hercules rammed hard once more into him, feeling the rush of his orgasm fill the limp body beneath him.

Suddenly a white-hot ball of pain hit him with full unrelenting force and he flew across the corridor, his come still trickling from his cock, his climax incomplete.

He moaned and lifted his head, lucidity returning to him. Through the haze of pain he saw a black leather winged being with baleful red eyes glaring down at him, a stream of light shooting from his hands into the demigod's chest. He screamed in terror and everything went black.


Iphicles grabbed his sword, wondering what in Tartarus was happening. Kirok had, one moment been lying in his arms, and then they had heard a cry from outside. In a flash, Kirok was out of the door, not bothering to walk, swooping like an eagle from the bed and crashing through the door as if it wasn't there.

Iphicles was slower to react and took a moment of time to throw on his robe, before going to see what was going on. He brandished his sword, thinking perhaps someone had invaded the castle, and crept cautiously through the ruined, splintered wood of his door, peeking round the corner to see who was killing who.

Instead he was met by the sight of a huge bat-winged being; terrifyingly malevolent, scaled tail lashing the furniture in the corridor into matchwood. A cold white light blasted from its hands straight into the slumped body of his brother. Beside the door, curled up unconscious on the floor, his clothing ripped, was Kal.

Iphicles looked around wildly, terrified out of his wits Where the fuck was Kirok?

Suddenly there was silence. The creature filling the corridor swept around to face the king, who lifted his sword, wondering how the hell he would kill this thing; then it let out an awful bone-tearing cry, grabbed Kal in powerful claws and flew out of the window.

Iphicles stared, dumbfounded, as the thing flew out of sight, then he dropped his sword as people, alerted by the commotion, started running towards him. He ran to his brother and lifted his head, wiping away a trickle of blood from the demigod's skin.

"He's alive," he said in relief, and looked up at the guards. "Help me get him to my chamber."

There was no lack of willing hands and a few minutes later he had Hercules laying on the rumpled, semen stained sheets of his bed. He called for a healer, then sat by the bed, still vaguely worried about Kirok and Kal, but mostly concerned for his brother's health and wondering what that petrifying thing had been. He'd never seen anything so ugly, so unearthly in his life. He was amazed that he hadn't pissed himself in fear. His heart was still hammering in his chest.

He took several deep breaths and tried to calm down, stilling the uncontrollable shaking in his body. He smoothed his brother's hair from his face, and took his hand, hoping the creature hadn't done anything more than knocked Hercules out. He thanked the gods that Herc was a demigod and probably immune to any killing power directed at him.

"Iphicles? Are you all right?"

Iphicles raised his head and looked round, gasping in relief when he saw Kirok stood there, once more clothed in his loose, silken black. "Gods...Kirok," he moaned and went to the man, hugging him close. "I was worried about you. Where did you go? There was some creature attacking Herc. It took Kal. I don't know what to do."

"Kal is in our rooms. He's shaken but fine," Kirok said soothingly, his hand stroking the king's hair.

"But how did he get there? The creature took him. It.." A look of confusion and horror crossed the king's face. Iphicles suddenly stepped back pulling away from Kirok, feeling his face drain of blood. "That... thing.. no...it couldn't be." Iphicles shook his head in denial. There was no way that creature was the being he just made love to. "It was you," he finally whispered in shock.

Kirok nodded.

"But... how can you... how can a being of such beauty and gentleness be...that... that... monster?"

Kirok shut his eyes, his face full of pain. "What you see, when I have my wings is air, but I have another form... When I use my spiritual body, I become the true essence of whatever I'm focussed on. I'm sorry, Iphy, but what you saw right then wasn't me at all... but Hercules."

The king stared at Kirok. "I don't believe you," he said flatly. "Hercules is the kindest, most decent man I've ever known. He's so good, it's sickening. How can he be what I saw? It terrified the life out of me."

Kirok said nothing. Iphicles cast a look at his brother, who was starting to come round. He warred with the urge to go to him and the need to know what the hell Kirok was talking about. His brother won the toss and he went to him, ignoring Kirok, suddenly despising the being for telling lies.

Hercules moaned and sat up, holding his head. "What happened?" He asked.

Iphicles glared once more at Kirok. "I'm not sure what happened," he said finally. "Kirok attacked you."

Hercules shook his head. "No it was some creature... not Kirok. It was black. Gods... I thought I was going to die."

"You should have," Kal's voice was cold. The brothers looked up. Kal was standing by Kirok, his face bruised and swollen. Kirok put a protective arm around his friend and whispered into his ear. "No." Kal said aloud. "I'm not letting you heal me until Hercules sees what he's done." He walked forward to the bed. Iphicles could see him shaking. He suddenly knew that Kal was furious and frightened - but of what?

"Tell him what you did," Kal said, his voice low with fury. "Tell your brother what you did to me."

"Kal... I'm sorry. I don't know what I ..." Hercules started.


Iphicles leapt to his feet. "What the fuck are you talking about?" He advanced on the water spirit, murder in his eyes.

Kirok was instantly there, moving across the room faster than the eye could see, his hand held out and glowing slightly. Iphicles backed off against the bed in fear and felt Hercules grab his hand and pull him back down to sit beside him.

"It's true," Hercules whispered unable to look at any of them. "Gods, Iph I was so angry at seeing you and Kirok fucking, and I can't explain why I did it, but I took Kal against his wishes. I held him down and fucked him against his will. I wanted to hurt him and I did." Hercules looked at the small being. "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, Kal. I don't understand…why?"

Kalios nodded, then took hold of Kirok's guarding hand. Kirok moved it to Kal's face and the glow got brighter. Within a moment all the bruises and cuts Kal had, were gone. Kal was still shaking uncontrollably, his body betraying his emotions. He stood for a long time trying to gain his composure.

Finally he spoke, "Janus must not hear about this. He'll kill you. We have something far more important to do and I can't let him be distracted." He turned and walked out of the room.

Kirok remained his dark eyes filled with sadness. "It's not all your fault, Hercules. Yes, you were angry, and that part is your fault, but I sent the guards away for a reason. It would have been dangerous for them to be anywhere near the room when your brother and I made love. My feelings and emotions are so magnified that they become overwhelming for anyone who is near. I'm only able to soften the emotions for the person I'm with. The results, like before, can be disastrous. You felt my pleasure and it
obviously overtook you. Your fury turned it into lust and Kal got the worst of it. I'm sorry too." He vanished without another word.

Iphicles rounded on his brother. "Why were you angry?" He asked. "Can't you get it through your head that I'll sleep with who I want?"

"They're dangerous," Hercules said stubbornly. "I don't want you getting hurt. I don't want you sleeping with Kirok. These guys are more powerful than you can imagine."

"Fuck me! You're just like Ares!" Iphicles exploded. "Listen to yourself. All you want to do is control me, just like Ares. If I sleep with someone you disapprove of, you get angry - just like Ares. Gods! Why am I surrounded by so many fucking megalomaniacs? Get it through your head, brother. I'll sleep with who the fuck I like, and nothing you, or Ares can say is going to stop me. I don't give a flying fuck how powerful Kirok is. He makes me feel good, which is far better than you or Ares ever made me feel."

The king paused in his tirade, staring down at his shocked looking brother. He spoke again, but this time, his voice was dreadfully quiet. "Now get the fuck out of my bed before I throw you out of it and don't even think about telling me who I can or can't sleep with ever again, or by the gods, brother or no brother, I'll kill you... I'll fucking kill you!"

Iphicles stormed out of his room, wishing there was a door he could slam. He heard Hercules call his name, but ignored him, angrier than he'd ever been before. He strode down to the castle exit, raced into the stables, grabbed the nearest horse and leapt onto it. Before anyone could say, or do anything, he'd urged the horse into a furious gallop and was gone, in a cloud of dust.

Part 21:  Preparation

Iolaus looked worriedly at his lover. Hercules had been quiet ever since he had arrived back earlier that morning with Janus. Ares had gone off somewhere to do god-type things, and Janus was closeted in his room with Kal. He could faintly hear their moans and cries, and surmised they were making love and renewing their link. Kirok too was sat with Jason, their eyes shut, hands gently touching each other's chests, hair drifting weirdly around their heads, oblivious to any outside presence.

"So how did you get that?" Iolaus asked, gently brushing the fresh cut on Hercules' forehead.

Hercules went a deep shade of red and mumbled something incoherent. He got up and went to the window, staring moodily out onto the courtyard. Iolaus let him go, his face troubled. He didn't often see his partner in this mood, and knew better than to nag at him. He stared at the strong profile, thinking that right now, Hercules looked just like his royal brother. They looked so alike when they sulked.

He sighed and went to see what was for breakfast. He was starving. The day and night at the forge had given him a huge appetite. To his surprise, no one was down in the dining room and his enquiries met with the reply that king Iphicles was breakfasting alone in his chambers.

He decided to go talk to Iph. They had always gotten on pretty well, and while Iphicles was wont to sulk and brood, even more so than Hercules, at least he couldn't pound the hunter through a wall if he asked about it.

He went to the kings rooms and knocked softly on the door, noting it was brand new. He heard a voice telling him to enter and he walked in. Iphicles was sitting at a table, his breakfast in front of him, but Iolaus could see it had been untouched. The king looked up to see who his visitor was and smiled briefly.

"You're back. Did you make the sword?"

"Yup, and Ares and Janus didn't kill each other either," Iolaus replied, grinning.

"Amazing," Iphicles remarked, but Iolaus could see his heart just wasn't into light banter.

"So what went on while we were away?" Iolaus asked, pulling up a chair and helping himself to Iphicles' bread and honey. Iphicles sighed and pushed his plate at him, motioning that he could eat it all.

"Me and Herc had a fight. A big fight," he said.

"Yeah? What about? You don't have a mark on you. He looks pretty banged up, though. Did you swap strength for a day or something?"

"Very funny. I didn't do that. Kirok did."

"Kirok?" Iolaus raised his eyebrows. "Woah. I've only seen him angry once. Must have been one hell of a fight."

"You have no idea," Iphicles said, shuddering.

"You want to tell me what about?" Iolaus asked, his mouth full.

"Not particularly." Iphicles picked up a spoon and absently stirred the herbal tea that was going cold in front of him.

Iolaus continued to eat, watching the king as he did so. He wasn't sure what to say, but he knew whatever it was that had gone on between the brothers would have to be resolved pretty soon. They didn't have an awful lot of time left.

"Look. We have to get going on this seal breaking business. You should stay here," he said at last. "You're the only one who can't defend yourself.... not in the way we need, anyway."

"I'm going," Iphicles said flatly. "I'm involved with this, and I'm seeing it through."

"Ok. Fine. I don't mind, but I'm sure Herc'll have something to say about it."

Iphicles threw the spoon down and got up, starting to dress. "I don't give a shit what Herc thinks. You know, Iolaus, he doesn't run my life. He can go take a running jump," he said bleakly.

Iolaus pulled a face. *Oops. Wrong thing to say* "All right. You'd better get some fighting gear on then. We're going soon. Meet us in the guest rooms at noon." He took a final bite of bread and left the king to get ready.


When he got back to the elementals' rooms, he was surprised to see Cupid there. The love god was sitting at the table, chin supported on hand, glaring at Kirok and Jason, who were still in their trance.

"What are they doing?" he asked Iolaus, as the hunter sat down next to him.

Iolaus looked round the room and noted Hercules still staring out of the window. He sighed and turned his attention back to Cupid. "Renewing the link. They've been apart from each other for a while," he said. "Though I don't know where Jason's been."

"But Kirok is with me," Cupid said, softly. "Why does he have to do that with Jason? It looks so... intimate."

Iolaus' eyes stared off into the distance as he remembered the incredibly visceral bond he and Janus had shared. "Don't you know about the link?" He asked. "Jason and Kirok have one, and Janus and Kal have the other... if one dies, then the other will. It *is* very intimate. It's always there, whatever happens."

"So what about spirit? Pneyma, Kirok calls him... Didn't there used to be five of them? Dunno about you, but last time I looked, five was an odd number."

Iolaus shrugged. "I don't know much about it, but before they all decided to use human forms, they didn't have the link. Kirok just woke up one day and Pneyma was inside him. They don't know what killed him, or what happened. It's been that way ever since. Yeah, Kirok may be with you in body, but in his mind, he's with Jason, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Cupid looked sad. "I love him, and it's times like this I wish he was human," he said.

Iolaus patted the god's arm. "I'm sure he loves you just as much. You'll just have to get used to the fact that Jase is always going to be there. Herc managed it while me and Janus were together. I'm sure you can."

Just then the bedroom door opened and Kal came out. He smiled at Iolaus and sat down. "They still in there?" he asked, nodding his head towards the other two elementals.

Iolaus grinned. "Well, perhaps they're mentally thinking out this week's shopping list," he said.

Kal laughed. "Bread, eggs, butter..." he said his voice trailed off and he froze and glared at the silent demigod, who was now looking over at them.

Iolaus saw the look on Hercules' face as his eyes met the water spirit's, and his heart sank. *Oh gods. What had happened here?*

He didn't have time to ask. Janus came out of the room at that moment and wondered aloud if they were going to eat that day. He saw his mesmerised friends and went over to shake them roughly. "Hey, snap out of it," he said. "We're kicking angel ass today."

Jason blinked and pulled his hand away from Kirok. Kirok was slower to come out of it, and sat with a serene smile on his face, eyes still closed. Janus sighed and slapped him hard. Cupid leapt to his feet, but Iolaus pulled him down. "Don't," he said in a low voice.

Kirok opened his eyes and let out a long slow breath He looked around him, and got up, melted briefly into his winged form then back again to human. He sat at the table next to Cupid and touched his cheek, smiling. Iolaus saw the love god blush slightly under the caress, then catch Kirok's hand and kiss it. Beside them, Jason glared.

Janus opened the door and Iolaus could hear him asking a passing servant for food... or at least he assumed it was a servant. Janus tended not to make a distinction between king or commoner. He'd seen the fire spirit order Iphicles about in exactly the same rude way. it was funny how Iphicles took it from him, but not from Hercules.

On second thoughts, perhaps it wasn't so funny.

The hunter watched as Hercules finally came and sat down, then the others joined them. Jason gave the leather thong that usually bound his hair to Kal and Kal stood behind him, busily knotting his hair back up into its usual style for him. It all looked pretty domestic, but Iolaus knew better.

*Now, let's see... Herc is sulking. Looks like he's pissed off Kal, Iphy, Jason and, as usual -Ares. Jason doesn't look very happy with Cupid or Herc. Iphy of course is sulking at Herc and Ares. Shit. Iphy sulks at everything... what am I thinking about? Cupid is still angry with Ares and is jealous of Jason. Janus and Ares loathe each other's guts even though they were fucking like bunnies at Hephaestus' place.... fuck it, Janus hates everyone, and Ares is just a pain in the ass. On top of all that, we've gotta go fight some angels. Yup. This is going to be one hell of a fun day.*

According to his calculations, the only one who wasn't having any problems with everyone was himself and Kirok.

Breakfast arrived, or rather lunch. Iolaus made the time near noon, and sure enough, a few minutes later, Iphicles arrived, Ares accompanying him.

Ares sat on the corner of the table next to Iphicles, his arms folded, dark eyes fixed on Janus. Janus studiously ignored him and ate voraciously.

There was silence. Iolaus had enough, stood up, withdrew the ebony sword he'd forged from it's scabbard and threw it with a loud clatter onto the table; immediately getting everyone's undivided attention.

"There it is," he announced.

"Eww. Nasty looking thing isn't it?" Kirok said.

"It wasn't forged to look pretty," Iolaus said. "It was made to give us a fighting chance against the angels."

"I thought we were supposed to be breaking the seals with it?" Cupid asked.

"That too. But I've got a feeling Michael isn't going to give up without a fight," Iolaus replied.

"I'm ready for him. Just let him try stopping us," Janus snarled.

"I second that," Ares said. "I'm out to kick ass. I've had it to here with these light guys."

"I don't think we can stop them," Iolaus said doubtfully. "Just... postpone things a little."

"A little? By how long? Weeks, months? Years?" Iphicles asked.

Iolaus shrugged. "A few thousand years or so. The time won't be right again for a while."

"Well, we'll all be dead then," Iphicles said in relief. "Not our problem any more."

"We won't," gods and elementals chorused.

Janus looked at Ares, his eyes shining with glee. "How do you know you won't? You're only a god," he said viscously.

"Humans will always need war. They'll worship me without even knowing it," Ares said.

"Same with love," Cupid chimed in. "The rest may not survive, but me and Ares always will."

"Don't be so sure about that. Your days are numbered, gods of nothing," Janus grinned.

"I've had enough of you..." Ares said getting to his feet, his eyes dangerous.

"Yeah? You didn't say that when I was fucking you at Hephaestus' forge," Janus said evilly.

Iolaus groaned. Iphicles and Hercules went pale, obviously for different reasons and Kal laughed delightedly.

The hunter grabbed the sword and dropped it once more, the noise making everyone look at him. "For fucks sake, stop it. You guys are like fucking brats squabbling over a toy. We all know you hate each other, now stop flexing your muscles and let's get on with this. Gods! No wonder people are trying to destroy all of you. They're probably fed up with all the fighting."

Iphicles and Hercules both snickered. Iolaus glared at them too. Everyone sat silently, looking embarrassed or ashamed.

"Ok. Now we have to find the first seal. The sword should take us to it, so that's not a problem."

What do we do once we get there?" Iphicles asked.

Hercules raised his head. "You aren't coming," he said.

Iphicles raised an eyebrow. "Oh? And pray, tell me why not?"

"It's too dangerous for you. You'll be the only mortal."

"Iolaus is mortal," the king pointed out.

"Herc...don't go there," Iolaus warned.

"Iolaus has the sword, and he's also still linked with Kal. He's not totally defenceless like you'll be."

"I'm no pushover," Iphicles said. "I can take care of myself."

"You aren't going!" Hercules snapped.

"Don't tell me what to do, brother. Do you really want me to tell a few people here what's been going on while they were away?" Iphicles' eyes were flat as mirrors.

Iolaus, looking round the table at that moment, saw utter fear on Kal's face, and dread on Kirok's beautiful features. He frowned and looked at his lover. Hercules had gone pale and looked ashamed as Iolaus had ever seen him. What on earth *had* gone on with these guys?

"No," the demigod said quietly. "No... come with us if that's what you want."

"It's what I want," Iphicles said just as softly. He turned his gaze to Ares. "You have any objections?"

Ares shook his head. "Why should I? I'm the god of war."

Iphicles nodded. "So let's get going then." He stood up.

With a scraping of chair legs, the others arose. Iolaus saw Janus grab Kal and pull him to the window, talking softly in the strange language of the elementals. Kal replied and stubbornly shook his head. Janus shot a look at Hercules, and his eyes narrowed, flashing with white fire. He grabbed Kal by his tunic and shook a fist in his face. Kal shook his head again and his eyes started to glow. Janus put him down and stormed out of the room. Kirok sighed and followed him.

By ones or pairs, the others left the room until all that was left was Hercules and Iolaus. Iolaus went to Hercules and touched his shoulder. "Hey."

Hercules looked up, smiled slightly and caught hold of Iolaus' hand. He kissed it briefly and hugged the smaller man close. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm not very good company right now."

"I know. You're like a bear with a sore paw. What happened?"

Hercules paused then he hugged the hunter closer to him. "I did something very wrong," he said quietly. "I don't know why I did it, but I can never forgive myself. You'll hate me too if I told you."

"What did you do, Herc? Nothing can be that bad. You know I'll love you, whatever," Iolaus soothed.

Hercules pulled away from Iolaus. "I... raped Kal. I saw Iphicles and Kirok together... making love... and I .. don't know what happened, but Kal was there and I just held him down and fucked him. I hurt him. It was so bad that Kirok had to change into his spirit form to get me off him."

Iolaus stared at the demigod in complete and utter disbelief. He didn't think, just grabbed a chair and broke it against the wall, his shock at Hercules' revelation showing itself in violent, uncontrolled anger.

"You bastard! You raped my son! How the fuck could you do that?" he yelled.

Hercules flinched and looked away. "I don't know.... I just don't know why... or how... I just... did it. Please, Iolaus. You couldn't hate me as much as I hate myself right now. All I can say in defence is that Kirok told me that it wasn't all my fault... it was him and Iph too.. but it doesn't make me feel any better."

Iolaus knew about the uncontrollable power Kirok had and began to calm down a little. Once he'd thought about it, he honestly didn't blame Hercules for what he'd done - not really, but the demigod's admission still shocked and angered him. "You didn't have to rape him," he said softly. "Kal would have let you do it, if you'd just asked him. It's the way he is."

"I know... but I was so angry at Iphicles, Gods... I just don't know what came over me... the need was terrible..." Hercules let out a shaky breath. "Even now I can see him... crying out and struggling, but I just couldn't help myself. I wanted to hurt him."

Iolaus went back to his lover's arms. Right now he needed to get Herc over this. They all needed to be calm for the coming fight.

He shut his eyes and felt outward for his sons feelings. All he could feel was a vague longing and sadness, fear - and pleasure of being with Janus... a strange duality. He frowned, not knowing what that was for. It wasn't anything to do with Hercules, that was for sure. He decided to explain more of what he knew about Kirok.

"You've been with Kirok haven't you? You know how he makes you feel when he comes? Well, it's why he makes sure no one is around when it happens. Anyone nearby gets affected by his pleasure. You couldn't help it and Kal knows that. You got caught up in what Kirok was feeling and your anger at Iphicles made things worse... he knows that too. Please, Herc. Don't kick yourself over this. All I can feel from Kal is fear that Janus will find out. He's already forgiven you."

Hercules wiped his eyes. "I can't forgive myself," he said.

"I think you should," Iolaus said. "We're going to have a bad day, and having you preoccupied with something you think you did, isn't going to help."

Hercules visibly pulled himself together. "You're right," he said and let Iolaus kiss him. "I'll punish myself later. Right now, we need to get this over with."

They walked hand in hand out of the room to meet in the courtyard with the others.

Part 22:  This Fire

Before the battle began Ares watched in endless fascination, his eyes locked on only one…

This fire like
a wordless memory
carved on skin,
this heat
scorching flesh,
oh deliver me now.
This fire the breath of
timeless passion
and pain,
now more than ever
it stings. It burns,
I need you
to relieve me,
you can't deny me,
I will die in
your imagined
exquisite embrace,
oh gods and demons
and darkness and light,
save me and enslave me,
uplift and deprave me.
By the love of all
that is divine
and unreal, give me
the power to live
without your light -
if I can't have you
how can beauty exist?
Teach to see the
wisdom in this denial,
but oh, this fire
is turning my soul to dust,
how can I live with
this constant craving?

"I cannot have him. I must not want him. I will not need him, but by Zeus, when we took each other in the forge, I could feel him, drawing me into him. How can I hate him so much, yet desire him with all my soul? How can there be such terrible hatred between us after the blood we shared? Why do I feel this way? Has he cast a spell on me, like Kirok has with Cupid... a spell of need? Gods! I have to stop this. He cannot be mine. Stop watching him with hot, lustful eyes. I know damn well he, would not want me, and does not need me. I don't need him."

He turned away and found himself looking at another. "Think of my king. Think of nothing but my passionate, mortal king. He wants and needs, but cannot have me...He gives, not takes, and asks for nothing. All this time I never understood all he gave up for me. Until now. I've been so blind…let him have me."

Part 23:  Until Plague Claims the First and Last...

"Ex Aere extraxit. Renoavit completum que facitur. Donec Morbus Primum et Extremum accipiet."

A whirlwind of air rose up from the earth, sending leaves, dust and small rocks flying all around the plain. The lone figure raised his arms, and out of the air dropped the third seal. He caught it and held it in his arms, his eyes narrowed against the whirling grit. He took aim and hurled the tablet into the spinning storm. The cloud of air caught it in its gyrating embrace and sucked itself down into the earth. When the leaves had settled, there was nothing to be seen.


The pale figure disappeared into the void leaving mournful wind to whisper its secret to nothing and no one.

Part 24:  Show Me...

"Is this it?" Ares asked, materialising beside the reined-in horse of Iolaus'.

Iolaus shrugged. "I think so. The sword's stopped pulling me," he said.

Cupid and Kirok alighted on the ground and Kirok morphed back to human form. "So how do we find this seal thing?" Cupid asked.

Iolaus dismounted, as did the others. Jason took charge of the reins, soothing the nervous horses with a soft word. He led them away slightly, stroking their ears and noses in turn, then left them to join his companions.

Iolaus drew the sword and pointed it outwards, turning round slowly. He rotated full circle and frowned. "No reaction," he said, glaring down at the repulsive weapon.

"Perhaps you're standing right on top of it?" Hercules suggested. Iolaus spun the blade and pointed it at his feet. He shook his head, and squinted into the sun, scowling at his lover.

"There's got to be some kind of sign," Iphicles said "Some mark..."

"That's it!" Iolaus yelled. "Iph, you're a genius. Stand back." He lifted the blade aloft once more. "Show me the mark!" he said to the sword.

There was a sudden detonation of light from the sword. The light streamed through the air and exploded into the ground a short way from them, detonating dirt everywhere. Everyone ducked and Jason let out a pained cry.

"It's there," Iolaus said confidently. "Jason. Go get it."

Jason went forward and knelt down in the earth. He scrabbled about for a moment, then lifted something flat and rectangular in his arms. He came back to Iolaus and held it out.

"I think that's it," Kal said unnecessarily. Everyone glared at him. He shrugged. "Just checking."

"Destroy it," Jason said through gritted teeth. "Hurry up. It's sapping my strength."

Iolaus lifted the sword above his head and brought it down in a cleaving stroke. The tablet broke in two and fell to the floor. Everyone stepped back a bit waiting for the worse.

Nothing happened.

"Is that it?" Iphicles asked, at last, lifting his head from protective arms.

Iolaus kicked the tablet. "Seems that way." he said. Everyone leaned forward to look at the stone and abruptly there was another eruption of flame, sending all, but Janus, flying. The flame poured upwards into the sky for several minutes, then faded and there was silence once more.

Janus was the first one to approach the broken seal for a second time. The two halves were blackened and burned. When he kicked them again, they crumbled into dust. He lifted his head and grinned.

"One down... three to go," he said in a triumphant voice.

They all turned to go back to their horses, and the two winged beings took off, back into the sky. Iolaus was about to get on his own horse when there was a scream from above and Kirok came plummeting downwards, Cupid free-falling after him. The god caught the spirit in his arms, just before they hit the ground and pulled himself up sharply, landing raggedly and falling to his knees, with Kirok in his arms.

"Shit! Shit!" he gasped. "What's wrong with him?" He held the screaming, writhing elemental close, trying to soothe him.

"The third tablet..." Hercules said. "Michael's placed the third tablet." He knelt down by his nephew, touching Kirok's forehead. "Gods... he's burning up... Jason... can you heal him?"

Jason shook his head. "Yes, but I won't."

"You won't?" Hercules got up and stared at the earth spirit. "What do you mean?"

"Let his lover heal him." Jason said tightly, and turned, walking away rapidly. Kal went after him. Iolaus could hear the small man pleading with Jason to see sense. He looked uselessly at Janus. "What can we do?" he asked.

Janus shook his head. "I can't heal, only destroy," he said quietly. "Kal might be of some use, but not much. He turned and roared his lover's name, summoning him over.

As Kal got back to them, Kirok let out another scream and abruptly changed. Cupid let out an oath and let go of his lover. The being Kirok had become, flew free and hovered above them. All they could see was a black, but vaguely transparent, formless figure with tendrils of light shooting off it. It let out a mournful, sobbing wail and circled around them as if searching for something. The being radiated sadness and the group watched helplessly as he writhed in pain.

"What the hell is that?" Iolaus asked at last, pulling himself out of the terrible melancholy that flooded through him.

"It's his other form," Janus said. "Spirit has taken over. Who is he focussed on?" He looked around the group, as did the others, and saw Iphicles transfixed by the floating elemental. "Iphicles... bring him down to you...call him," he said.

"Me?" Iphicles looked round everyone. "Why me?"

"He's using you as his focus," Kal explained. "He is.. to all intents and purposes...you - your innermost soul."

Iphicles looked confused. "But I've seen him before like this... he was a monster... a terrible thing...this time he isn't so frightening... seeing him just makes me feel so... lonely and…incredibly sad."

Kal went up to the king and took his hand. "It's you," he said gently. "He's reflecting your deepest feelings. We need to bring him back; get him to focus, so we can help him turn into to his human form and heal him. Call to him; he'll come to you."

Iphicles raised his hand and called Kirok's name. After a moment the being came flying down to the king, changing size as he did so, and alighting gently on his wrist like a beautifully deformed falcon.

"This is... weird," Iolaus said, looking at the lovely, amorphous shape with the huge mournful, eyes and halo of flaring light. The creature let out another of its cries and Iolaus was startled to see tears streaming down the king's face.

Janus walked forward and stroked the creature that Kirok had become. "We're going to get you through this," he whispered.

Iolaus heard Kal behind him talking to Hercules. "You'd better stay back. We really don't want him centering on you," he said.

Iolaus wondered what that was supposed to mean, then idly speculated on what form Kirok would take if he were to focus on himself. He shuddered. He wasn't sure he wanted to find out.

Janus growled under his breath and glared at Jason who was stood some way away, not looking at them. "Jason, come here." His voice wasn't loud but everyone could feel it vibrating through their bones. Jason did as he was told. He stood there, looking defiantly up at Janus.

"Heal him," Janus said, leaning forward and gently stroking Jason's cheek. Iolaus shuddered. The last thing he would want if Janus spoke to him in that tone of voice was to be touched that way. There was so much fury and pent up power in the tender caress; the air was almost crackling with it.

"Heal him yourself," Jason said back, folding his arms in defiance.

The fire-being's eyes flared white and Iolaus could see waves of heat sullying the air around him. "I'll fucking kill you," Janus whispered. "This isn't a game, you spiteful bastard! I don't know what you think you'll accomplish, so just fucking do it!"

"Go ahead. I've got nothing left to live for, anyway," Jason spat out, his voice trembling in anger. "The godling has taken him from me, and my existence is worth nothing."

"Then I may as well let you live," Janus said. "Live in hatred and pain, Jason, knowing you can never have him." He turned away.

"Wait..." Kal said. He took hold of Jason's arm and led him away. Iolaus could see Kal talking urgently to the earth elemental, but couldn't hear his words. At last Jason reached forward and hugged the smaller man, then they both came back.

"I'll heal him," Jason said. "Give him to me."

Iphicles extended his arm to Jason and Kirok drifted lazily over to the earth spirit and landed on his arm. His giant, black eyes remained fixed on Iphicles, but for a moment he looked at Iolaus and blazed briefly into a ball of light so bright, that Iolaus' eyes teared. He shielded his face from the being, and when the light faded and he was able to look once more, he saw the familiar form of Kirok laying slumped on the ground, held protectively in Jason's arms.

Jason bowed his head over his partner for a moment, extending his arms. A soft golden light enclosed him and Kirok, healing the elemental's body. Next, he gently placed a hand on Kirok's chest; a pale blue light emanated from his hand. The light started to fade and finally died. Jason picked Kirok up in his arms and walked over to Cupid.

"Do you accept him, willingly and freely?" he asked, his voice soft, a tear falling from his eye onto the cheek of the senseless air spirit.

Cupid swallowed and reached out to stroke the soft, black curls of hair that cascaded down to the ground. "I do," he choked out. "You know I do."

"Then have him." Jason kissed Kirok's forehead and passed him over to the love god. "He's no longer mine. I've broken our link."

Iolaus saw the look on Cupid's face as he held Kirok in his arms. For a split second, he looked incredibly happy, knowing that Kirok was now his, and his alone, then he heard Jason's words. He bowed his head over his unconscious lover, grief in his eyes, the realisation that they only had a few hours left together hitting him like a fist. Iolaus could almost see the blow as it fell.

He put his hand on Cupid's shoulder, trying to comfort him. "Finally having everything you wish for can be painful," he said softly.

"I've never felt so much happiness and then have such a void of emptiness rip through me. I finally understand how alone Jason feels. Soon I'm going to lose him and I don't know if I can stand it." Cupid lowered his head and pulled Kirok closer to him. Iolaus saw a tear fall onto his cheek and he turned away, not wanting to see anymore of the love god's pain.

"Jason!" Janus moaned brokenly. He crossed to Jason and grabbed him roughly. "You can't... You'll die. We've already lost one. There's no way I can go through this again. We can't lose you."

Jason shook his head. "It doesn't matter any more," he said. "Let's get on with this. We're running out of time."

Part 25:  ...The Mark

"Show me the mark."

The flash of light had them all prepared this time. The only one who didn't flinch away was Janus. The streak of light hit a point in the lake and they all looked at each other.

"Kal," Janus said. "Your turn."

Kal got off his horse and walked down to the water's edge. He changed into his other form and dove into the dark depths.

Hercules looked worriedly at Kirok who was cradled close in Cupid's arms, still out to the world. "I hope he wakes up before we need him," he said. "He's been out for a long time."

"The loss of the link isn't helping," Janus muttered to Hercules. "Why the fuck did Jason do that? Kirok and him are gonna die."

"Don't be so sure," Hercules said back. "I don't know what went on between him and Kal, but Jase looked pretty happy."

"Probably because he knows he's gonna get the ultimate revenge back on Cupid. Kirok's gonna die too and it'll leave Cupid without him." Janus growled, his horse bucking beneath him.

"Calm down... your horse won't like it if you start getting heated up," Iolaus said.

"Who's idea was it to travel on these creatures, anyhow?" Janus mumbled. "Hate them... horrible organic things! Just like this ugly, saggy body I'm forced to wear."

Hercules couldn't help smiling. He ran his eyes over the strong, muscled arms, long gold hair, and the fierce, sensual features. "You look…ok," He said. "Believe me, you look fine." He'd never thought that perhaps the elementals didn't actually like being in human bodies.

"Would you like presenting yourself in an unnatural state just to be accepted, Hercules?" Jason interrupted.

"Um…no I didn't mean anything by it. I just wanted Janus to know you all look fine." Hercules almost blushed.

"Only good thing about it, is my cock." Janus rasped grumpily.

Iolaus snickered. "Oh yeah. Your cock is great." He said between snorts of laughter.

Hercules spotted the hot, lustful look in his godly brother's eyes. Every time he had looked at the almost silent Ares, he had seen confusion and need there, first looking at Janus, then his gaze travelling towards Iphicles.

Just then, Kal burst out of the water, leaping from the waves like a glassy dolphin. He swam back to the bank and climbed out nimbly, holding the tablet. Within a few seconds, he was back in his human form and running back to them, perfectly dry and waving the tablet in the air with his happy, jubilant grin.

Iolaus told Kal to hold the tablet out and chopped the sword downwards, splitting the seal in two. This time, everyone was ready and moved back, as the column of light flooded upwards into the air. Janus, once more, kicked the tablet into dust, making sure it was well and truly powerless, and they rode on.


Iolaus bit his lip. "It's stopped pulling," he said.

"Well... get on with it," Ares spoke up.

"I can't... Kirok hasn't woken up yet," Iolaus said. "He's the only one who can get the seal."

"Oh for Zeus' sake, slap the little bastard. You're molly-coddling him," Ares snapped.

Everyone looked at Janus, expecting him to try punching Ares' teeth out one by one, but he nodded. "He has a point," he said, as he strode to Cupid and before the god could react, gave the sleeping Kirok the full force of his fist, hard across his cheek.

Kirok woke up abruptly, gasping in shock. "What the fuck did you have to go and do that for?" He yelled, his normally whispering voice shrill in pain.

Janus shrugged. "Thought it was a good idea," he said.

Kirok struggled from Cupid's arms and staggered dizzily, rubbing his cheek. He put a hand to his chest and a look of horror came over his face. "Jason...what have you done?" He moaned.

"What needed to be done," Jason said quietly. "Get the tablet. We'll deal with it after all this is finished."

Kirok collapsed against Cupid and nodded weakly. Cupid held his lover close, kissing him firmly. "You can do it," he said reassuringly.

Kirok let out a soft moan, and then his whole body rippled and half changed, then flickered back and forth for a moment between his other body and the human one. At last he let out a gasp and slumped once more into the love god's arms. "I can't," he said, his body shaking with effort. "I'm too weak...the loss of the link... I can't change form..."

"Hold on..." Iolaus said. "How about another link, like I did with Janus and Klas?"

Kirok lifted his head. "It would work," he said. "It would give me the strength I need for retrieving the seal and for the fight ahead... I'm useless without the link."

Janus got off his horse. "Perhaps Jason should renew..." he started doubtfully.

"No!" Kirok and Jason said forcefully at the same time "I don't want him inside me anymore." Kirok added. "His jealousy was stifling me."

"Iolaus? He can do it," Kal said.

"No... he'd have three links... that would be too much for any mortal to bear." Kirok said.

"What about me?" Cupid asked suddenly. "Can a god link with you? You know I'm yours, Kirok. Why not make it permanent."

Kirok frowned. "I'm not sure... I've never shared with someone else before. It would have to be a light joining... just enough to keep me alive and strong, and we'd always be able to tell where each other was"

"It's all I ask," Cupid said quietly. "Just to be with you... knowing that you want me and love me is enough. There is no way I'm going to let you die; I don't want to lose you."

"Do it and let's get the fuck on with this," Janus said impatiently. "While you're discussing it instead of doing it, Michael could be placing the fourth seal, and I'll be fucked if I'm crumpling like an old woman at Ares' feet."

Kirok nodded and shut his eyes, placing his hand on Cupid's naked chest. A soft nimbus of light surrounded them for a moment. Cupid shut his eyes and let out a soft moan of pleasure, his body arching towards Kirok's hand. Suddenly he let out a cry and his whole body jolted from the intense energy ripping through him. He caught Kirok in his arms and kissed his lover passionately, his wings quivering and spreading outwards. Kirok moaned, lost in the empathy, then tried to regain some control. He let out a groan, pushing Cupid away, his eyes blazing white energy. "Later," he whispered, stroking Cupid's cheek, an eternity's promise in that gentle touch.

Iolaus swallowed. His cock was hard and wanting, watching the two immortals incredibly intimate moment. He had no doubt that Cupid now had some very wet patches in his pants. The hunter looked at Hercules, wanting to take him somewhere private and fuck his brains out. Hercules too, looked back at him, his eyes filled with confused lust. Iolaus could see his cock straining at his pants and stepped forward, then realised suddenly what was happening to him and buttoned down his own need. He contented himself with a touch of the demigod's hand.

Looking over towards Ares and Iphicles, the hunter watched as Iphicles stood face to face with the god, his hand raised, touching Ares' cheek, his face flushed with passion. Ares stared back into the king's eyes. Iolaus could see something flicker in those dark depths, but the god looked toward Iolaus and he removed the caressing hand from his cheek. Iolaus shook his head, feeling sorry for Iphicles, and, turning his attention back to Kirok; saw the elemental turn to him and nod, ready at last to get the seal.

He stretched forth the sword. "Show me the mark," he said.

And again the sword blazed, flashing light into a point in front of them. All at once a whirlwind rose up in front of them and they all ducked away at the flying stones and grit.

Kirok, with an effort drew himself up and moved into his winged form. He flew into the cyclone and couldn't be seen for several moments. Abruptly the whirlwind stopped, fading into nothing and all that was left was the air spirit, hovering above the ground, the seal held in his arms. He flew back over to them and landed, holding out the tablet.

Iolaus once more brandished the sword and clove the stone in two. Again they moved away and watched as the power of the seal shot outwards and upwards.

Janus knelt at the dust remains of the seal and looked up. "Now we go find Michael," he said. "I'm not waiting for him to place the fourth seal."

As one, the group moved to their horses and took to the sky, Iolaus slightly in front, holding out the sword, leading and knowing that they would follow.

Part 26:  The Final Seal (warning:  character death)

Bathed in the eerie glow of the intense lava Michael stood looking approvingly at the smoking crater, the lava flow cooling slowly, but it was enough for Michael's purposes. This volcano would erupt over and over, holding the last seal in its element of fire, preventing anyone from drawing near until it was time to let it end.

"Ex Ignes extraxit. Renoavit completum que facitur. Donec Mors Primum et..."


The white clad figure dropped his arms and stopped speaking as Janus strode forward and jerked him back. He looked round, his face calm.

"You can't do this," Janus said. "Humanity isn't yours to toy with."

Hercules got off his horse, along with the others. He was aware of Jason using his powers to send the animals away to safety, then pulled his attention back to what was happening. The being - Michael - was standing in front of Janus, his almost white eyes narrowed at the elemental's words.

"Humanity is ours. The sooner you realise that, the better." He said. His eyes fell on Hercules. "Demigod... Once more, you defy me? You truly don't want to be part of the light?"

"I don't want any part of something that destroys with so little thought." Hercules said, coming forward.

"We won't let you do it. We've destroyed the other seals. You know it's in our power to do it," Kirok added.

Michael looked round the assorted mix of men, gods and elementals. "Perhaps," He admitted. "But you will die trying for this last one."

"So be it!" Janus growled and blazed into his fire form, casting a fireball right at the Archangel and blasting him off his feet.

"Damn. When I did that, it didn't touch him." Hercules heard Ares mutter.

"You really don't get exactly how powerful they are. Do you Ares!" Hercules said. He felt a build up of power as all four elementals shifted into their full forms. This was nothing like when they had fought Ares. This time he could feel all encompassing energy, the entire force of the Earth against the full might of Heaven.

Michael rose to his feet, untouched by Janus' fire, but his calm composure looked slightly more ruffled as he lifted his hands. "Come Angels Of Light. Come, destroy these creatures. We won't let them stop us. We shall prevail and Thy will *shall* be done."

"Over my fucking dead body," Ares yelled and cast stream after stream of lightning into Michael. The angel's body wavered slightly from the attack.

Just then, overhead came flight after flight of black winged beings, clad in armour and brandishing swords of light. They blanketed the sky almost dimming the sunlight.

"Oh fuck!" Iolaus muttered to the demigod. "How the hell are we supposed to get them out of the sky?"

"Leave it to us." Cupid said, his wings lengthened and he leapt into the air, Kirok followed, close behind him The two flew to meet the army of light; Kirok casting streams of light into the crowd, Cupid hurling fireballs. They didn't seem to hurt the angels much, but knocked them out of the sky easily.

Jason suddenly grabbed Iphicles, Iolaus and Hercules. *You'll need some protection.* His voice said in Hercules' head. *We're going to do things that'll kill. It won't last long, but it'll help.* He touched all of them in turn and when Hercules looked at his brother, he saw him surrounded by a faint blue nimbus of light. He looked down at his hand and saw the same light surrounding him.

Iphicles grasped him on the shoulder, a grin on his face. "Come on. Let's kick butt." He yelled and ran up to an angel that had fallen out of the sky. He was soon embroiled in the fight for humanity.

Hercules joined in, aware of Iolaus fighting at his back as he always did, chopping and cleaving cruelly with his black sword. The angels were true warriors and fighters and the struggle would be hard for the group of mixed beings, but they would not give up. The battle had begun and was not going to over until every one of them was dead.

He looked around at some point, hearing an awful screech, like fingernails down a blackboard and saw the angels clutching their hands to their ears in pain. Kal was standing, his mouth open, the most terrible noise coming from his throat. As the angels screamed and writhed in agony of the fearful sound; Janus and Ares, working together, flung fire and lightning at them. As the fire touched them, they disappeared into nothing.

Hercules wasn't sure if they were destroyed or sent back to the light, but there were still hordes of them, coming at the companions. When one was felled another seemed to take his place. He redoubled his own efforts.

He punched and kicked at a pair of angels as they attacked him and tried to make sense of what was happening. He was nearly knocked flat as a gust of freezing cold wind blasted over him and one of the angels crashed to the ground at his feet, his wings encrusted with ice. Hercules dispatched him over the edge of a nearby chasm of fire and spun round, left alone for the moment.

Cupid and Kirok seemed to be doing their job of getting the angels out of the sky, not only did the army of winged beings have the couple's fire and wind to deal with but Jason was busy too. He had called a swarm of bees from somewhere, and yells of pain could be heard as the angels, obviously not immune to earthly creatures, were flapping about in confusion, disorientated by the stinging swarm.

Kal was flitting in and out of his watery form, fighting with a staff of what looked like ice, then letting out one of his awful cries before slamming the agonised foes in the head with the staff. Every now and then he would lift his arms and call sudden downpours of water from the sky, probably lifted from a nearby lake - Hercules could see fish and weed mixed in with the water. The soaking prevented the attackers from lifting back into the air. flying with wet wings was proving to be difficult for them.

Iphicles was now fighting with Iolaus. They had developed a technique of fighting together that protected the mortal king from the angels and allowed Iolaus to get to the beings with his sword. Regarding his brother, Hercules realised that he had a look of glee on his face. He was actually happy to be a part of this. The life, so long missing from his face, had returned as he yelled and hacked at his adversaries.

He suddenly heard Michael's voice rise strongly above the noise of fighting.

"Ex Ignes extraxit. Renoavit completum que facitur. Donec Mors Primum et extraxit."

"Janus!!" Hercules screamed. "Stop him!" He ran forward, as Janus became aware of what was happening and slammed into Michael with all the force of his blazing power. Michael dropped the seal in his hands as he flew back once more, caught in Janus' fire and Hercules lunged forward to catch it, breathing a huge sigh of relief as he caught it safely and stood up with it held close to his chest.

"You will not do this!" He yelled. "Iolaus! Bring the sword."

Michael staggered to his feet. "NO!" He shrieked. "You're leading man to destroy themselves."

"If that happens, then it'll be their choice. Not yours." Hercules said softly in the sudden silence. He looked around. The fighting had stopped and everywhere he saw angels stood or hovering, their faces filled with hatred.

He held out the tablet and Iolaus walked forward, no longer encompassed by the protective light Jason had cast on him.

"Finet," Janus said softly. "So let it end."

Iolaus brought the sword down on the fourth seal and with a roar of fire it detonated into thousands of pieces. Everyone flattened themselves to the floor, angels included and waited until the shower of fire and stone had cease before they got up.

"You fool," Michael said, fury in his pale eyes. "We can't place those seals for another two thousand years"

"You have to give mankind a chance." Kirok said, landing beside Hercules in his human-winged form…"They've not been around for very long and you want to destroy them before they learn from their own mistakes?"

Michael looked around at his depleted army. "We may not be able to destroy humans, but we can destroy you." He looked round his army of angels and smiled his cruel smile. "Kill them all," he ordered and vanished.

"Oh shit!" Kirok cursed, and flew back upwards again.

Once more, the fight was on, but there were less angels to deal with now. Hercules kicked and punched, threw and whirled his way through them. Again he could see Iolaus and his brother fighting side by side smiling at one another when Iphicles took care of an angel that came up behind Iolaus. The numbers soon diminished and only a few remained.

Hercules was busy throwing another angel to the ground when he looked up, hearing a loud splintering sound from nearby. Jason had methodically destroyed a tree until only shards and stakes of wood were left. The gold and silver vine-covered being lifted his arms. Hercules, watching him, realised what he was about to do. He dove to the ground and yelled "Duck!" at Iolaus and Iphicles, as the long, lethal splinters went flying through the air, felling all in their path. The battle was all but over.

A terrible shriek of pain rent the air and Hercules' blood ran cold as he saw Iphicles, slower to dodge, pitch forward, a long sliver of wood piercing his back and straight through to his chest

"Iphicles!" He screamed and ran forward. Catching the mortally wounded king in his arms, Hercules lowered him gently to the ground. He felt sobs well up in his tightened throat and touched the bloody piece of wood piercing his brother's chest, wondering whether to pull it out or not. Embracing him tightly he could feel Iphicles shudder as he coughed, the blood trickling from his mouth.

He opened pain-dazed eyes and looked at his sibling, but Hercules knew, somehow, that Iphicles couldn't see him. The demigod smoothed back disarrayed copper hair and held him closer. "I'm gonna get you better, Iph," he sobbed brokenly to unheeding ears. "You'll be all right. Just hold on."

The king choked slightly then reached a bloody hand up to touch Hercules' cheek in a tender, knowing caress. "Ares...I love…" he whispered, then his body went limp and his eyes closed.

Hercules bowed his head over his brother, cries of grief wracking his body. He'd told Iphicles not to come - told him that he would get hurt, but the stubborn fool had insisted on joining in the fight. He couldn't lose him now. It just couldn't end this way. There was so much he wanted to tell him. Things that he never should have left unsaid and now it was too late.

He lifted tear-stained eyes, aware that there was silence. He looked around, uncaring that they had won, that the angels had either been driven off or destroyed.

All that mattered was his dead brother in his arms and the sudden roar of realisation, anger and loss from the uncomprehending god of war.

Part 27:   So Shall It Be Done

Iolaus felt tears trickling down his cheeks as he watched his lover sob out his pain at losing yet another one of his family to destructive beings. He wanted to go to him, hold him, but Kal held him back, his eyes filled with sorrow. "This has to be done," he said quietly. "They need to accept each other's love for the king."

The hunter didn't understand what Kal was talking about for a moment, then, as Ares ran forward from seeing off the last of the angels; Iolaus finally understood.

Hercules looked up at his godly brother, his whole body shaking. Ares stood in front of him, saying nothing, his face emotionless but his dark eyes pleading.

The demigod stared into Ares' face for a long time then he nodded and gave Iphicles' limp body over to the war god.

Ares pulled out the splinter of wood that had ended the king's life. He poured white hot energy into the dead man in his arms; trying, over and over again, to bring life once more to his ex lover, pounding the ground with silent grief as his healing had no effect on the lifeless king.

At last, he stopped his efforts and bowed his head silently over Iphicles. Iolaus shut his eyes, gulping down his own sobs. He finally went to Hercules and held him close. The demigod threw his arms around the smaller man and Iolaus felt him shaking against his body.

Kirok walked forward and knelt down beside Ares, touching his shoulder, his black eyes filled with his own sadness.

"Do you love this mortal?" he asked, his voice so soft, Iolaus could only just hear it. He saw Janus moved forward, his face filled with fury.

"Don't do it, Kirok. I lost Klas because of him. You'd let him have his lover back when I have to spend eternity without the man I love?" he demanded, his deep voice breaking.

Kirok ignored the fire elemental. "Ares. Do you love this mortal?" he repeated, a little louder.

Hercules lifted his head and Iolaus could see sudden, fierce hope come into his reddened eyes, but Ares remained silent, his attention only on the body he held close to his chest. Iolaus sighed. Even now, when his lover was lost, Ares refused to admit how he felt for the king, though it was now so obvious to the hunter and everyone around him.

"Say it!" Kirok commanded.

"No!" Janus wept. "Please Kirok. Don't do it. Let him suffer. Let him exist in pain as I do."

Ares finally lifted his face to the air spirit, a single tear glinting on his cheek in the dying sunlight. "Yes! Damn it all to Tartarus. I do love him. I want him to be mine. I want to be his."

Kirok rose to his feet and smiled. "So shall it be done," he whispered.

"I won't do it," Janus said harshly. "I won't bring that mortal back so the war god can be happy. He didn't care about my happiness when he tried killing Klas."

Iolaus tensed, wondering what the hell was happening. Around him, he could see the four elementals also shifting into attack positions. For the first time in their billions of years, they were willing to fight each other.

Kirok's black eyes bored into Janus' hot blue ones. "Do you truly love Kalios so little?" he asked, his voice quiet.

Janus' gaze shifted to the little water spirit. "No. I don't love him. I never have. He may look almost the same as Klas, but he isn't him and nothing he can do can change that." He shook his head. "I'm sorry, Kal. It's true."

Kal let out a deep breath and bowed his head. "I know. I've always known," he said sadly.

"And because Ares is responsible for Klas' death, you won't help us bring Iphicles back?" Kirok asked.

Janus shook his head again. "I won't."

"If Klas could be returned to you? How would you feel then?" Kirok asked.

"Don't be stupid," Janus said. "It can't happen."

"But if it could?" Kirok insisted.

Janus paused then looked at Hercules, still bowed down by his grief. "I'd do it... but I'd do it for Iphicles, himself. He can make his own choices."

"That's good enough." Kirok said. He looked at Kal and nodded firmly. "It's time, Kalios," he said. "Come to me and receive what you were born to carry."

Kal walked forward and stood in front of Kirok, arms outstretched. The elemental's bodies took on a brilliant, blinding light so intense, Iolaus had to shield his eyes. When he squinted, he was able to see a bright being removing itself from Kirok's body, drifting towards Kal and encompass him, melting into his form so the two were joined. For a long moment, neither Kal not Kirok moved and when the light faded they were both surrounded by gently flickering rainbow colours. Iolaus could see the same blazing tattoos that decorated Kirok's body appear on Kal's arms and shoulders. Kirok dropped his arms and the lights faded. "You are spirit," he whispered.

Kal suddenly cried out in pain. His body rippled and wavered from human into a pure white light. Iolaus wasn't sure, but it looked as if he was splitting in two. He began to worry, thinking the joining was unsuccessful. He started to run to his son, but before he could reach him, the light faded and two beings stood where before, there was only one. They were almost identical, except that one had wavy, amber hair, rather than the pale blond locks Iolaus knew as Kal's.

Iolaus' mouth dropped open, suddenly realising what had happened. Janus' dead lover, Klas, had been restored to him. Iolaus would have killed to know what was going on, but now didn't seem like the right time to ask questions. He saw Janus start to shake, then with a low cry, run to the darker haired of the twins and enfold him in his arms. "How? I…I…don't understand... How is this possible? What did you do?" His words poured out but he didn't wait for an answer, just pulled Klas tighter to him, burying his face in his hair, looking as if he would never let the tiny spirit go. Klas hugged him back, tears falling from his eyes, wetting Janus' hair.

"He set things right," Jason said, moving forward. Kal took his hand and shut his eyes.

Kirok placed his hand above their hearts and shut his own eyes. Iolaus could see nothing; but the feeling of pressure and energy was amazing. He could feel his hair crackling with static and lifting from his scalp, making him shiver. His whole body came up in goose-bumps and he pulled away, out of the influence of the enjoined elementals.

At last Kirok let his hands drop. "You are as it should be. United... forever until the end of time," his light voice said. "We are once more, five, the way we were supposed to be. Now we can return the mortal's life."

Hercules lifted his head. "Can they do it?" he asked Iolaus softly, his voice filled with hope.

"I'm not sure. They seem to think they can, but from what I can see, they need all five of them to do it." Iolaus whispered back.

The elementals walked over to where Ares still knelt, oblivious to their actions, his head still bent over Iphicles' body. He looked up as they surrounded him, his eyes blank.

Kirok knelt down and smiled at Ares. "Go to your brother. We have work to do."

Ares nodded, for once not arguing. He carefully lay Iphicles down on the rocky ground and walked over to stand with Hercules and Iolaus. To the hunter's surprise, Hercules held out his hand. Ares looked down at it for a moment, then took it, and they stood together to watch what the elementals would do, their fingers still entwined. Cupid came over to join them, and Iolaus felt the warm touch of the love god's hand on his shoulder. He left the brothers alone and leaned into Cupid's comforting body, watching the elementals, now restored to their proper number.

The five stood around Iphicles' body, Janus and Klas on one side, Kal and Jason on the other and Kirok at his head. They all stretched out their hands and held them above Iphicles' heart. Slowly the body rose into the air until their hands were all touching him. He drifted there, copper curls lifting in a light wind, face peaceful.

Iolaus heard the elementals begin their joining ritual, but he noted the differences, realising that the familiar words had always been missing and incomplete.

Janus raised his face to the sky, his eyes shut. "I am Pyr. We are the closed fist,"

"I am Hydor. We are what should have been," Klas replied.

"I am Gaia. I have always been," Jason said his part.

"I am Pneyma. We are what will be," Kal softly said the part that Kirok had always spoken, his eyes locked on Jason.

"I am Aeer. We are forever the First and the Last." Kirok, as the oldest, finished the ritual with the long-missing words, now complete and resealing the five as one.

There was a long silence then Iolaus became aware of a soft light coming from each of them, the rainbow hues of their elements, red, blue green and yellow, all meeting the white of Kirok's own force. The colours swirled around them and the body of the king they held in their combined power.

"More," Kirok said, lifting his face, his eyes taking on the intense glow as the other channelled their energy through him and he in turn sent it back through Iphicles' body. One by one they burst into their natural forms: Janus, the blazing, formless ball of fire with human eyes. Jason, the remarkably delicate earth spirit, covered in greenery and shot through with silver and gold. Klas, once more back in his water form glittering jade, blue and green; Kal, for the first time in his new embodiment of spirit - centered on Kirok, he became identical to Kirok's own form, their wings sweeping the air in transparent beauty.

Wind tossed Iolaus' hair and he could feel electricity, as before a storm, building up all around them. He grasped onto Cupid's arm to anchor himself from the force of the wind that suddenly gusted around them.

From the nearby volcano came explosions of fire and it began to rain heavily. Cupid thoughtfully cast an invisible shield over them, sheltering them from the rain, and keeping them safe from the elements and the hunter began, for the first time, to hope.

Iphicles' body began to glow then pulse with incandescent light. Iolaus heard Hercules let out an inarticulate cry and groped for his other hand, keeping the demigod under control. The First and Last could not be disturbed. He knew his lover might interrupt at a crucial point thinking he was protecting his brother's body.

Kirok raised his arms, lighting flashing from his fingers into the king, then he let out a terrible scream and fell backwards. The light faded from them all and slowly they melted back once more into their five human forms. Jason, Kal and Klas all went to help Kirok to his feet. Only Janus didn't move, his hands still placed on Iphicles' body, his eyes tightly shut, sweat soaking him, making his clothes cling to every muscle on his body.

"Come back to us," he whispered. "Let the flame of life fill you." He poured fire into the still chest. Iphicles let out a huge gasp, his body jolted and his eyes sprung open. Janus smiled and knelt down, bringing the still floating king to the ground with him. He cradled the gasping and obviously living Iphicles in one arm and looked over at the stunned group of gods, demigod and mortal. He smiled, then quite deliberately bend his head and kissed Iphicles' mouth for a long moment. Iolaus heard the king's soft gasp and his arms went around Janus' neck. Beside the hunter he felt Hercules shift and Ares let out a soft growl of anger, but neither of them moved, unsure of the legitimacy of the kiss..

At last Janus raised his head. "It's finished," he said in a serious, ritualised tone of voice. He stood up and helped Iphicles to his feet, then grinned his evil grin. "Just try not to fuck it up this time."

Part 28:  Let It End

Iphicles opened his eyes and gasped for air. As life flowed back into his body and he became more aware, he realised that Janus was holding him in his arms and kissing him…hard. Giving in to the warmth that enveloped him, he melted into the kiss and then wondered for a moment what had happened. Why was Janus holding him like that, and kissing him? He pulled away from the fire elemental and looked questioningly into his eyes, struggling to his feet. Janus stood and reached out an arm to help him up.

Iphicles looked around, aware of a vague pain in his chest and back. He looked down and saw blood covering his armour. "What happened?" he rasped, his throat sore, his mouth tasting of blood.

Janus grinned. "You were dead. The guys and me restored you. The pain'll fade in a little while." He turned back to the others of his kind, going to Klas and holding him close. Iphicles passed a hand across his eyes, feeling slightly dizzy, then became aware of Hercules grabbing him and hugging him close.

"Iph... Iph... Thanks the gods... no... Don't thank the gods thank the First. If it wasn't for them…"

"Uh... you can let go of me now, Herc," Iph said, nonplussed at his brother's sudden show of affection. "What did Janus mean, I was dead?"

Hercules released him but stayed by his side. "You were caught in the rain of stakes Jason hurled. You...died in my arms."

"I don't remember much, there was pain and then I saw this bright intense light. It was very peaceful. Then I was back here with Janus' tongue down my throat."

"You ain't lived till you've had that happen!" Klas said cheerfully.

Iphicles was really confused. He looked at Klas who was standing next to Janus then back to Kal who was next to Jason. "Klas…you…you're fucking alive!" he shouted, running over to the small elemental and hugging him tightly.

The light-hearted elemental hugged the king back while looking at Janus. "Yeah, it's a long story. I'll explain later, but for now - welcome back." He released the king and embraced his lover once more.

Kirok walked over to Iphicles and put his hand on the king's cheek and drew him into a kiss. "Be happy," he whispered into his ear.

Iolaus came over and grasped Iphicles' arm, pulling him into a warm embrace. "Iph, It's good to have ya back. I know it feels a bit odd, but I've done this a few times so if you need any pointers…"

The king smiled and nodded then moved away from Iolaus, his mind not really comprehending everything that happened - at least not for the moment. He looked about, at the small group of elementals and Cupid, grouped in their pairings. Janus and Klas were standing together, kissing passionately, Jason and Kal touched hands and stared into each other's eyes, oblivious of anything around them. Cupid and Kirok also held each other close, then abruptly grew their wings and flew up into the sky, obviously to make love in that wonderful abandoned way Iphicles had witnessed once before. He could feel his heart soar with them and he smiled.

He turned his attention to his brother once more. Hercules had gone back to his lover and was talking quietly with him, their eyes turning often to the restored king.

And then there was Ares.

The war god was standing alone, his brooding, darkly beautiful face full of emotions Iphicles couldn't name, his eyes fixed upon the king. He seemed to make a decision and walked forward until they were almost touching.

"I... I'm glad you're back," he said. "I thought I'd lost you."

"Lost me?" Iphicles asked in confusion.

"I... finally admitted to myself how I feel about you," Ares said, not looking the king in the eyes. Unused to talking about his feelings like this, he spoke softly. "I couldn't imagine life without you."

"Really?" Iphicles asked and didn't wait for an answer. "I had to live my life without you for three years."

"Revenge on the First overtook me. I didn't allow myself to think of you. Even though I'll never be able to stand them I... find myself... not wanting retribution on them anymore. They helped you - gave you back to me." Ares tried to explain himself.

"So typical Ares. Everything revolves around YOU! You think they brought me back just for you! The possibility that they did it for 'me' never crossed your mind. "Iphicles glared at the war god. "You really think I'm going to come back to you after the way you treated me?" he asked angrily.

There was a long silence then Ares turned away. "I... thought... perhaps we could start again. I see I was wrong... but at least you're alive, and for that, I'm grateful."

He vanished in a flash of light before Iphicles could say another word.

Jason lifted his head from his communion with Kal. "I'm calling back the horses. We should go back to Corinth."

Hercules lay his arms lightly around Iphicles shoulder and smiled into his brother's eyes. "Yeah. Let's get out of this forsaken place," he said.

Within a few minutes the horses cantered over the hillside and the group rode off toward Corinth. Iphicles stopped his horse and turned to look at the place where he'd died and was reborn. All that was left to mark the bloody fight was a split and ruined tree. He vowed he'd be happy, whatever happened. He had been wallowing in his loneliness for far too long.

"Iph?" Hercules had rode up beside him. "You okay?"

Iphicles smiled and clasped Hercules' forearm. "Yes. For the first time in my life, brother…I really am." He heeled the horse and they both joined the others.


By common consent, once they had got back to the castle and those who wanted to, had bathed and changed, they met back in the large guest quarters. Iolaus was pleased to see that Janus had his strange guitar with him and was sitting on the table as usual, Klas next to him, playing and singing. He looked more relaxed and happy than the hunter had ever seen him. He realised that the fire-being had either been under the influence of a debilitating source, or still in mourning, whenever he had seen him; but now, Klas was back, and Janus was full of smiles and laughter.

Across the room, Kirok too, played his guitar, his eyes fixed firmly on his fingers as they skipped over the strings. Cupid stood beside his lover, looking a little dazed at the alien sound that came from the instrument. Every now and then he would grin and say something like "Bitchin'" or "cookin'" Iolaus smiled. He sounded just like his mother.

Jason and Kal were draped over each other on a large couch. Iolaus was sure they were only present in body. Both had a glazed but ecstatic look in their firmly locked eyes.

The door opened and Iphicles entered, looking refreshed and happy. Here was another one who had fought his demons and won.

Hercules got up from his seat and went to his brother, touching him on the arm. Iphicles grinned and patted the demigod's hand, then joined him and Iolaus on the other couch.

At last the music stopped, and Kirok put his instrument down. Cupid clasped his lover's hand and dropped down beside him. Kirok smiled and his wings flowed out from his shoulders. He enfolded the love god in one of the mobile appendages and the other slowly fanned the hot room, a pleasant waft of cool air drifted by Iolaus' cheek and he ran his hand through his newly washed and still damp hair to dry it.

"Do you want employment in the summer?" Iphicles asked, laughing. "You could cool the whole castle."

Kirok gave the king an enigmatic smile. "Sorry. Cleopatra already employs me for the purpose," he said, his eyes dancing.

"I'll pay you double."

Janus cleared his throat. "Hate to interrupt the banter," he said. "But I want to know how the fuck Klas is alive."

"Regretting it already?" Klas asked, his grin impish.

"I probably will in a few months when your constant chattering starts getting on my nerves," Janus said, stroking Klas' cheek with a loving gesture. "So spill. What happened?"

Kal spoke up, his voice quiet. "I... knew you didn't love me. It was making my life total hell, being so near you and not being able to make you happy. I knew you still loved Klas. I could feel your grief anew every day when you woke up beside me and realised I wasn't him. I felt so weak after Michael placed the second seal so went to the sea to heal, but then, I wondered if it was all worth living your lie. I walked into the ocean to die."

There was a short silence. Janus bowed his head, looking ashamed and groped for Klas' hand.

"What about you, Klas?" Iolaus said. "I watched Kirok and Jason take your body to the ocean. I watched you dissolve into nothing."

Klas thought for a while then sighed. "I can see the future. You know that... and I knew I was going to die in the fight for Arges' destruction. It meant I could make some kind of preparation. I joined with you, Iolaus to create Kalios, mostly to keep Janus alive. Once my body was dead, my essence drifted. We don't really die, you know... just... we aren't corporeal anymore. All I know is that I had to stay nearby. I didn't know why... I just existed and followed you, waiting for the right moment... when Kal appeared, I realised what I had to do, and ... I guess you could say I slipped inside him... I was weak, and so was he - he'd given up the will to live. Apart, we were nothing and nobody, but together, we could exist as you know it. We... just never got around to telling you guys about it."

Kal took over the story once more. "When Jason unlinked himself and Kirok, I knew what had to be done - Klas told me. I made a bargain with Jason that if he healed Kirok, I would join with him, so we would both never be alone."

"Surprised the shit out of me," Jason added.

"Kirok, being what he was, knew what was happening. When Iphicles died... he saw the opportunity to finally get rid of the unwanted element he'd carried around with him for millions of years. When he gave me the element of spirit, Klas had the strength to go back to his former self, and I just took over spirit, allowing us to exist as two separate beings." Kal continued.

Klas got up and offered wine round the group of people. They all took a goblet, except for Jason, who didn't eat or drink in any form.

Iolaus watched the earth being. He seemed back to his normal self, and totally engrossed in Kal, who couldn't seem to keep his eyes off his new partner. He suddenly felt sorry for Jason, never feeling the sweetness of wine on his tongue, never experiencing the heavenly taste of fresh baked bread... never knowing the exquisite pleasure of climaxing inside a willing lover, but he had never known those things, and would never miss them. He just hoped that Kal could go without sex too.

He felt Kirok's eyes on him and looked round. "Spirit only feels what his link is feeling. He won't ever miss it," he said softly.

"So how come you wanted sex?" Iolaus asked curiously.

Kirok grinned. "Air is a very sensual element," he said. "It's overpowering in some respects."

Cupid leaned over and nuzzled his face into Kirok's neck. "And you love to be overpowered," he said with a lustful little snicker.

Ares marched up to his throne and threw himself into it, scowling into the middle distance. How dare the king reject him. Who the fuck did he think he was? How dare he talk to the god of war like that!

The god casually flung a ball of fire at a pillar and watched coldly as the pillar burst into smithereens. It didn't make him feel any better.

He blasted a few more newly built pillars, and then looked around and snarled. Even here he was reminded of those fucking elementals. This was the temple they had destroyed, the catalyst that had set off Ares path to revenge and hatred.

"I will have him. He can't escape me," he roared. "Iphicles, you WILL be mine!"

One more pillar bit the dust. When the rubble had settled, the god of war was gone.


The demigod sat near his brother, quietly watching Kal and Jason. Now that things had settled down a bit he began to focus again on his earlier actions. He could feel himself withdrawing into that darkness he fought so hard against. Fuck, he should have been happy. Iphy was alive, Ares was gone out of his brother's life for good, and the world was safe…for now. He looked at the elemental smiling and laughing with Jason, and when Kal glanced at him he knew he could no longer keep his feelings inside.

He rose and started to walk over to where the elementals were gathered. Iphicles blocked his path.

"Hercules, what are you going to do?" his brother asked softly.

"To set things right, Iph."

"Let it go, Herc." Iphicles looked at the elemental. "Believe me, Kal has. Whatever you're going to do will only cause problems…" He paused as Hercules moved past him. "...for you," Hercules heard him add softly, as if to himself.

Hercules stood in front of Kal until the water spirit looked up from his laughter. "I... just wanted to say.. to you... to all of you, I guess... I'm sorry for what I did. Although Kirok told me why, I just can't forgive myself for it." He shot a look at Janus, who leaned forward, his face curious.

"It's forgotten," Kal said. "I don't hold a grudge. It's not in me to do that... at least... not anymore."

Hercules looked again at Janus. "You're probably wondering what in Tartarus' name I'm talking about. Well Kal told me you'd kill me if you found out... I know I can't make things right, but I have to do this."

He saw Iolaus stand up, a look of alarm on his face. "Uh… Herc... that's really not a good idea, buddy."

"Shut up, Iolaus," Hercules snapped. He once more addressed Janus. "I raped Kal. Kirok and Iphicles were fucking and it... made me angry. Kirok said it was because of the way he feels when he's making love, but... I realise that it was mostly my fault. I wanted to pay you all back... I wanted to take something of yours, because you've taken Iolaus so many times. I wanted revenge." He mentally prepared himself for the fierce elemental's fury, but Janus just looked at him, his eyes serious.

"I know," Janus said at last. "You really think I could share my soul with Kal and not know what you did? Right now, I'm too happy that Klas is back with me to kill you, but come back in… say... four hundred years and I'll kill you then."

Hercules frowned. He hadn't expected the almost humorous reaction, but he forged on ahead, remorse getting the better of him. He felt he needed to be punished somehow for what he'd done. This calm acceptance just wasn't what he wanted or expected. "I... saw that terrible creature Kirok became, and I can't get it out of my head... if that was supposed to be me, I'm glad it was only because of what I was feeling."

Kirok looked at the demigod. "Hercules, you need to know and accept that the creature wasn't only a projection of your feelings at that time. It's a deeper part of you."

"But you said…"

"What I said was that I channelled your true feelings; magnified them…but that creature is you!"

Hercules turned to Iolaus laughing nervously, shaking his head in denial. "There's no way I could be that creature." He looked suddenly ill as the realisation of the truth began to sink in. "Kirok, when you focused on Iphicles, he wasn't a monster he…"

"Herc, it's not important. You're a good man and you do good things that's what counts." Iolaus interrupted.

"No, Iolaus. That's not all that counts." Kal got up and walked over to Hercules. " You need to see that this is your true nature; one you need to accept and embrace. Until you do, you won't be able to put this aside and move on. If you don't, the potential for danger is always there."

Kal shifted abruptly, his eyes fixed on Hercules. Once more, the terrifying monster with the huge bat wings and malevolent crimson eyes crouched in front of the demigod. Its hugely muscled scaled body rippled with strength and the large, overpowering talons flexed, as if wanting to destroy something. Hercules backed off, his face draining of blood, fear paralysing his whole being. No. This wasn't him. It couldn't be him.

"The darkness in your soul has to be battled. You have to accept what you are," Kirok said. "Until that happens, you can't hope to change it."

"Leave him alone!" Iolaus yelled. Instinctively wanting to protect his lover, he stepped in front of Hercules, shielding him from possible harm. Kal's eyes shifted to the hunter and he blazed into light.

Hercules stared overwhelmed, the fear dissipating into awe. He had seen this light before, when they had destroyed the first seal. At the time he had thought it was Jason's healing, but now he understood. At last everything was clear to him. He moved forward and put his arms around his lover. "Gods, Iolaus... You are my light," he whispered.

Kal melted back into his human form and smiled at the couple. "You are *meant* to be together," he said quietly and went back to the couch and entwined himself around Jason.

Hercules shut his eyes and felt the hard warmth of Iolaus' body pressed against his own. He was flooded with emotions he couldn't name, let alone articulate. He just buried his face in the hunter's blond waves and sank himself into his tender concern.

Kirok picked up his guitar once more and played a couple of chords. Janus joined in and Hercules let the music; slow and exotic, sexual and rhythmic, pound itself into his soul.

Iolaus swayed gently in his arms to the beat of the music, his eyes laughing up at Hercules. "Accept it, Herc, and let's dance... I really feel like dancing."

Hercules was about to retort that there was no way Iolaus was getting him to make a fool of himself, when there was a flash of light and Ares appeared once more.

"Oh gods. Thought we'd seen the last of him," Iolaus muttered.

"So did I," Hercules said. He moved Iolaus aside and advanced on the god.

Ares stalked forward, his old arrogance back. "What have we here? A party? And I wasn't invited? I'm hurt," he said.

Janus let out a soft snarl of anger and Klas grabbed his hand. Hercules faced his brother down. "What do you want, Ares?" he asked.

"I've come to take what's mine," Ares said, his eyes going to the king seated across the room.

Iphicles sprang out of his seat. "I told you Ares... I'm not coming back to you. We have nothing more to say to each other."

Ares glared for a moment. "Oh, but we do," he said.

Hercules stepped into the gods line of sight. "Leave Iph alone," he said. "How many times do you have to be told?"

"Never enough, because I'm not giving up what's mine," Ares retorted.

The king sighed. "Herc. Leave it. I'll go with him."


Iphicles shot a look at his brother and at the same time Iolaus put a hand on the demigod's arm. Hercules let out a breath. Here too, was something he would have to let go. He moved away from Iph, nodding his head.

"If he kills you, don't come running to me," he said.

Iphicles sighed at the bad joke. "I promise I won't. I can stand up for myself, Herc. It's time you started remembering that."

Hercules just nodded and sat back down with Iolaus, watching the god and the king leave the room.

"Don't worry about him, Hercules. Iphicles is more than able to take care of himself. Besides, no matter what you think, he does love Ares; and more importantly, the god loves him too," Kal giggled.

Hercules paled and put his head in his hands. "Hades, this has been one hell of a day!"


Once in the king's private office, Iphicles rounded on the god. "What part of my words didn't you understand, Ares? I'm not interested in you. I've had enough of hanging around mooning after a god who doesn't give a shit about me. The First bought me back and I've been given a second chance. I'm only going to tell you this once more and that's it. I don't want to see you near the castle."

Ares glowered darkly and advanced on the king. Iphicles swallowed and perhaps thought he'd gone a little far with his words. He backed off a little, trying not to show his fear.

"I told you before, you're mine. I don't give up my possessions without a fight," Ares said, his voice low and malevolent.

"Forget it!" Iphicles lost his temper and picked up a nearby vase, throwing it angrily at Ares, knowing the gesture was childish, but wanting to let his anger out somewhere. "I'm just a possession to you. I'm not a human being. Fuck you! You know you sound so much like Herc, it's ridiculous, but even he's starting to see sense and let me go. Why can't you?"

Ares lifted a hand as the vase flew towards him and detonated it with a gesture. Flying shards of pottery made Iphicles duck and he backed off once more, feeling the back of his thighs bump against his desk. He groped behind him as the god advanced once more and hurled a goblet at him. An invisible shield deflected the goblet, and Ares let out a growl. "Stop throwing things at me!" he yelled.

"Fuck off out of my castle!" Iphicles returned hotly.

"I'll go where the fuck I like. I'm the god of war."

"You may be a god but you're a pain in the fucking ass!" Iphicles jumped over the desk, grabbed the chair from the other side and pitched it at the god.

"You misunderstand me, king. This isn't up for debate. I lost you once. and I'm not losing you again," Ares shouted back, splintering the wood and sending it flying around the room to join the broken shards of pottery.

"You already lost me the day you took revenge on Klas!" Iphicles retorted, wondering if he could reach his sword, which was placed on a bookshelf across the room.

"I did that for you. Can't you see? The idea of you being with anyone else..." Ares broke off and took a deep breath. Iphicles didn't care about the gods words. He forged on ahead.

"The idea of me being with anyone else pissed you off because you're a control freak. You can't deal with the fact anyone else might desire me. What are you going to do now? Kill Kirok too? Did you know him and I fucked, Ares? Did you know he fucked me, then I fucked him and I loved every fucking minute of it? That's more than I can say for how I felt when I was with you."

"You whore!" Ares screamed and a fireball appeared in his hand. He prepared to hurl it at the king. Iphicles ducked under the desk then made a run for it across the room. The desk disappeared in a ball of flame and Ares turned, just as Iphicles reached his sword, withdrew it from the scabbard and spun round; slashing blindly at the furious god.

The sword ripped through the leather of his jerkin and Iphicles stared as a cut appeared on Ares chest. Blood poured from the gash and Ares stopped dead, putting his hand to the wound, his hand dripping with crimson.

He looked up with pained eyes at the frozen king. "You.... You cut me..." he said, sounding shocked.

Iphicles dropped the sword. "I... I... didn't realise it would hurt you," he said.

Ares looked at his gore-covered hand and his face paled. "You fucking cut me," he repeated.

Iphicles didn't know what to do. "I thought you were going to kill me," he said.

"I couldn't kill you. You know I couldn't kill you.. I... love you." Ares let out a deep breath and then crumpled to the floor in a dead faint.

Iphicles stood there for a moment, not believing what he'd just heard, then sensibility returned to his numbed brain and he rushed to the god, ripping up a shirtsleeve to staunch the wound. He didn't know that Ares would faint like a woman, and felt a hysterical snicker rise up in his throat.

A few seconds later, Ares opened his eyes and tried sitting up. Iphicles held the white cotton to the cut and helped him upright. "You all right?" he asked.

Ares nodded and with a touch, healed himself. He looked into the king's eyes, a look of shame on his face. "No one, but no one hears that happened," he said.

Iphicles couldn't help it. He began to laugh. Ares watched him for a moment then his face broke into a grin, and then he too began to chuckle at the stupidity of the situation. Slowly Ares became annoyed with the king's continued laughter; he reached for Iphicles and silenced him with his lips, pulling the king into a deep kiss.

Ares hugged him closer and Iphicles' laughter subsided under the god's mouth. There were soft lips on his and, briefly, his tongue was sucked before the god pulled away and kissed the warm spot beneath his ear. Then with a shudder that Iphicles could feel through his body, Ares buried his face in the king's hair.

"Ares..." he moaned.

The god lifted his lips from his neck and looked at him, his eyes dilated with need. Iphicles could feel himself falling into those eyes and clutched hold of Ares' arms, his throat suddenly dry. "Make love to me, Ares. Don't hurt me anymore?" he pleaded, his voice little more than a breath.


Ares stood up, pulling Iphicles to his feet. He drew the king once more to his hard body and their lips met in a gentle kiss. "If that's what you really want." he said, looking back into Iphicles face. Iphicles nodded mutely. Ares took his hand and led him to the large couch that sat by the window. He sat down and Iphicles slid to his knees, leaning his head on the god's thigh. Ares looked down at the mortal he loved and stroked his auburn hair. He shifted in his seat easing his erection in his tight pants.

Iphicles raised his head and moved upward on the couch to kiss Ares again. The god responded immediately, tangling his tongue in Iphicles' receiving mouth, his hands clutching at the king's muscular arms, then slipping upwards to snarl in his long locks. They kissed for a long time, getting more passionate and aroused, until Ares was trembling with need.

He, at last, broke the kiss, but moved his mouth down to kiss and bite Iphicles' neck, pulling him onto his lap. Iphicles let his head fall back, exposing his throat to Ares, letting him do as he wished. Ares worked his way down the smooth skin of his mans neck and shoulder, then ripped open his light cotton shirt with the ruined sleeve and moved downwards to the stiff little nipples. He sucked at one hard nub of flesh. His fingers squeezed and flicked over the other, and Iphicles' moan of desire filled his soul.

"Gods, Iphicles. I want you," Ares gasped, lifting his head momentarily, and burrowed his face into the warm, furred chest of the king, still worrying at the hard nipple under his sensitised lips. Iphicles nodded, holding Ares close, kissing the top of his head and then ducking down to capture Ares' lips once more.

Ares decided now was a good time to get naked, and with a single thought removed their clothes. Iphicles hardly seemed to notice until Ares ran a hand down rough pubic hair then flicked at the head of his upward rearing cock with a finger. He felt the king's fingers lock into his hair and tighten on his scalp, then Iphicles knelt up slightly on the god's lap, bringing his cock closer to Ares' bent head.

The god lifted Iphicles up slightly, bending further to taste the cock pressing against his chest. Iphicles whimpered, and Ares felt his fingers tighten in his hair. Iphicles was so ready, so willing for him and his wanton little moans and cries were almost too much for the god to take.

They sat face to face, Iphicles kneeling over Ares, his cock rubbing against Ares' skin, leaving heated trails of wetness. He moved his hips exquisitely against Ares' lightly sweating, furred stomach, the friction making him moan louder. "Get inside me," the mortal groaned. "I need you to fuck me."

Ares smiled and a small bottle appeared in his hand. He tipped oil onto his fingers and reached round his hip; caressing Iphicles' muscular, smooth buttocks, then probed for his entrance. As he found it and pushed, Iphicles bucked his hips forward, mewling with desperation. The sound of his needy voice aroused Ares even more and he explored deeper, found his prostate and brushed ungentle fingers over it.

"Gods!" Iphicles bit deeply on Ares' shoulder, letting out an inarticulate screech, muffling the sound in Ares' skin. Ares withdrew the fingers and grabbed Iphicles by the hips, hoisting him upwards for a moment then, feeling his aching cock press against yielding, oiled flesh, let him go. Iphicles moaned as the long length of Ares' cock slid inside him, and he pressed downwards, forcing Ares into him as deep as he possibly could.

They were still. The only sound their heavy breathing and Iphicles' soft whimpers.

Ares kissed Iphicles once more, teasing at his lips, letting his tongue roam over Iphicles' teeth, then outwards and down, tasting the salt of his neck. "You ok?" he whispered.

Iphicles didn't answer, just raised himself once more and thrust downwards, making Ares yell with the amazing feeling of Iphicles' hot, close confines sliding down over his cock. He held on tight to Iphicles, letting the king move as he wished.

Iphicles grabbed one of Ares' hands and put it on his cock, groaning at the twin onslaught of pleasure that assailed him. He rode Ares hard and fast, not letting up for an instant, his breathless, wordless cries loud in Ares' ears. Ares let his head fall onto the back of the couch, his whole body taut with his impending climax.

It was too much for him at last. He just had to finish it and make Iphicles his completely. He moved his own hips in time with the king's frantic movement, and stroked Iphicles' own pulsing shaft in time with the thrusts of his body. He couldn't think of anything right then, but how much he wanted the man above him, how much he loved him and how much he needed to come inside him.

Iphicles let out another wordless cry, and his movement got more and more reckless. Ares could feel the walls of his ass tightening on his cock as Iphicles reached climax, then the overwhelming ecstasy of his own completion. He was almost silent, his voice failing him as he clutched Iphicles tightly to him, feeling dribbles of the king's seed running down his stomach and chest, and the spurting heat of his own essence inside his lover.

"God. Iphicles... you have no idea how much I love you," he whispered at last, his voice hoarse, his brain to numb to care that he had just confessed his need for the man still impaled on him.

"I think I do," came Iphicles' own quiet, breathless voice. "It's just as much as I love you."

Ares opened his eyes and looked into Iphicles' face. The love in his king's eyes was plain to see and Ares felt his heart thaw even more. It was time he tried to treat the mortal in a more equal fashion, starting now. He took a deep breath. "Do you want me to stay or go? I'll do whatever you want."

He saw the pleased surprise in his lovers' eyes. Iphicles kissed him once more. "Please... stay," he said.

Ares smiled slowly. "You wish is my command... for tonight, at least."


Iolaus opened his eyes and lay in the comfortable bed for a moment, listening to the soft sound of his lover's breathing. He turned his eyes towards the demigod and rolled to face him, leaning up on an elbow and very gently tracing the line of the strong jaw with a finger.

He watched his sleeping lover for a long time, thinking about the night before, when they had gone to their room and made love. Afterwards, they had lain together, tangled in each other's arms, Hercules gently holding Iolaus safe. It had been a while since they had connected so thoroughly as this and it had been nice, just lazily talking and stroking one another.

Hercules had told Iolaus how he had felt when he had seen what Kal had shown him - the truth of the dark side of his soul. He told how he had struggled with it all his life, knowing that if he allowed himself, he could become like his godly brother, or even the Sovereign, over in the alternate universe.

Iolaus had just listened to his lover's words, sensing that he just needed to talk, get his thoughts and feelings out, and indeed, Hercules had talked almost all night, trying to articulate how he was trying to come to terms with what was buried deep in him.

At last, he smiled at Iolaus and stroked his hair away from his face. "I think I can finally let go now. All we've gone through over the last few days has really brought it home to me. I have to accept that Iph loves Ares, and, as much as I hate it, Ares feels the same way... as far as he's capable of such an emotion. I would rather they were happy.... I mean, who am I to interfere? Iphicles dying really brought it home to me. I'm so glad he has a second chance to live his life."

Iolaus had hugged the demigod close, feeling, within his lover, a new peace. Hercules had kissed him gently and laid him down to the bed, leaning over him, stroking his body. "I saw the goodness and light in you, even after all the pain and suffering you went through these past years. Once that happened... I felt... free... I want to become what you are, Iolaus, because you're mine, and I'm yours." His deep voice had vibrated into Iolaus' soul and he had drawn his lover closer.

"Herc. You've always been my light," he'd replied and they had kissed, gently at first and then deeper, drifting, once more, into making love.

Now Iolaus lay, idly stroking his fingers through Hercules chest hair, knowing that today was a new beginning, for them, for Iph, the First and even the world.

Thinking of the elementals, he got carefully out of bed, dressed and went to the window, looking down to where the stage area had been. It was no longer there.

He knew at once the First were leaving and there was a possibility he would never see them again. He remembered one of them mentioning something about a long sleep.

He scooted over to the bed and shook Hercules awake. "Herc... Herc, wake up... you have to get up. The guys are leaving today, and we have to see them off."

The demigod stirred and moaned, then opened his eyes. "What?" he said sleepily.

Iolaus repeated what he had just said, and within a few minutes, with his usual rapidity, Hercules had leapt out of bed and got dressed.

"Let's collect Iphy and go see them off," he said.


Iolaus could see that Iphicles was tired when they finally roused him out of his room. He told them he'd meet them in the guest quarters, and arrived, looking as if he had dressed and washed hurriedly just as the group of beings were leaving.

"Walk with us, down to the ship," Klas had asked, taking Iphicles' arm in one hand and Hercules' arm in the other. He walked in between them, his tiny size looking even smaller in between the two tall brothers. Iolaus was surprised when Kal started walking with him, his small hand slipping into Iolaus' own.

"Are you happy, at last?" Iolaus asked his unique son.

Kal smiled brightly and nodded. "I may have been born a water sprite, half man and half elemental, but I know now that I wasn't supposed to be Janus' after all. I was only there for him until Klas could regain his strength. I was truly born to be the element of spirit...after all...I have human blood."

"But what about Jason?"

Kal grinned. "There's never been a re-link before, but it's worked great. I'm sure he hardly even remembers how he felt about Kirok. I can feel his love for me, and I love him...and it's always going to be that way. Father, you don't have to worry about us."

They walked a little further in silence, lagging behind the others. They were approaching the harbour where the ship floated in serene transparent beauty, ignored by everyone around it as if it were a common occurrence. Iolaus realised those who did take any notice of it, saw it as most people saw the beings themselves - as nothing out of the ordinary. He suddenly felt glad he had met them and shared for a small time, their exotic and powerful world. He also felt reluctant and sad to let his son out of his sight.

He stopped and turned to Kal. "I wish... I had the time to know you properly. I keep thinking... thousands, perhaps, millions of years after I'm dead... you'll still be here, sailing the seas on the ship... and it's... it's not really what I expected from a son. I should be caring for you, teaching you all the things that a father teaches his children... and here you are, only a year old, and already... more powerful than the gods." Iolaus gave a half-hearted smile.

Kal's eyes were full of regret. Iolaus suddenly realised that they were no longer green, but almost reflective, like a mirror, giving back what he was feeling. "I know, I can feel your sorrow, but... perhaps you can take a little part of me, as I have a part of you." Kal put a hand to his father's chest and Iolaus felt a slow burning tingle under his skin.

"What did you do?" he asked.

Kal smiled. "Like Cupid and Kirok, we'll always feel one another's presence, know when one another is safe, happy, or in trouble."

Iolaus put his hand to his chest. "Thank you. It's important to me that I know you're well and I wish you the best for a happy life."

Kal nodded, "A long and happy life, father - for 'both' of us." He leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially in the hunter's ear. "They forgot to unlink you again... remember that, and use your power wisely. Just go have a good swim every now and then and think of me." He winked, and kissed Iolaus on the cheek, then left the hunter staring after him as he went to walk with Jason.

Iolaus caught up with the small group as they reached the ship, and as he arrived, so did Ares with his usual flash of light.

Iolaus glanced at Iphicles and saw his face light up with love for the god. Ares too, moved to stand beside the king, although they didn't touch. The god regarded the group for a moment then he turned to Kirok and held out his hand.

Kirok said nothing, just touched the war god's fingers in a strange gesture. Ares nodded once and turned to Janus.

"We may have worked together, this time, flame-boy, but as far as I'm concerned, nothing's changed. You and I are still enemies," he said.

"It's the way it should be... and I dub thee Unforgiven." Janus smiled his feral smile and it was returned in kind by the god.

Iolaus felt himself tensing, but Hercules touched him gently in the small of his back. "I think it's ok," he whispered. "They're just flexing their muscles one last time."

Janus, without another word, took hold of Klas' hand and they walked onto the ship.

Iphicles hugged Kal and Jason then turned to Kirok. "You helped me...In more ways than one," he said. "I owe you so much. I'll never forget you."

Kirok smiled his enigmatic smile and raised his eyes to the sky, making a curious summoning gesture with his hand. "I'm not going with them... at least... not yet." His eyes sparkled with pleasure as Cupid suddenly appeared before him. The air spirit looked at each of them in turn. "Thank you all," he said quietly, and melted into his other form, taking off into the sky, Cupid following behind him.

Kal hugged Iolaus, and shook hands with Hercules, as did Jason, then they too, boarded the ship. Within moments, it had set sail and moved rapidly through the waves, faster than any human built vessel.

The remaining brothers and hunter watched until it was out of sight, then Iphicles turned to Hercules. "Well they aren't much for long good-byes, are they?" he remarked, then grinned. "I haven't had breakfast yet and I worked up quite an appetite. Can I interest you in a large breakfast?"

"If he doesn't want one, I do. I'm starved," Iolaus chimed in.

"You're always starved. I'm sure you've got hollow legs." Hercules stated.

"Hey! I'm not 'that' bad!" Iolaus said indignantly.

"Ummmm… yes you are, Iolaus," Iphicles chided, trying to hold back a snicker and failing.

"Am not! Iolaus said in a mock-angry voice, as they started to walk back to the castle.

"Are too!" Herc said quietly.

"Hey! Am not…"


Ares continued to look out to sea the way the ship had sailed, leaving his lover to argue with his brother and friend.

"And you are Unforgiven too," he whispered, and disappeared.

The End