Boar Hunt with Deity 7-?
 by Taz

Part 7: 'Tis Pity He's A Whore

"This isn't fair," Iolaus said.

"No," Iphicles answered. " Forgive me. It isn't."

And it was Elysian, having that lush golden body pressed against him; his cock hadn't been informed that it belonged to the King of Corinth. Like the needle of a compass, it indicated magnetic North and he forgot himself in the mad urge to go along with the insanity that Iphicles was proposing.

Iphicles' hands slipped around his waist, pulling their bodies closer together. A hot, demanding tongue explored his mouth; when the kiss ended, he could feel warm breath on his cheek and an ear being sucked gently, before sharp teeth nipped the tender flesh below his earlobe. Of their own volition, his hands pulled the material of Iphicles' skirt up and bunched it around the king's hips. His fingers probed deep in the sweaty cleft of Iphicles' ass feeling the honey-thick moisture bathe his fingers, and his head was filled with the arousing scent of *Hold on.  Go back to 'probing deep in the'*

"No!" He came to his senses and shoved the king away. "Iphicles! We can't do this!"

"Yes, we can," Iphicles said and surged back, reaching. Iolaus was already backed up as far as he could without forcing himself through the door, and as Iphicles came forward, the key gouged his buttock and he bounced right into Iphicles' arms. That was the wrong thing to have happen because Iphicles kissed him again and his traitorous cock made an impressive bid for freedom within the confines of its leather prison.  He grabbed hold of the king's swelling hips desperately, trying to hold him off.

"Iolaus," Iphicles said, "you've been hanging around Herc too long, and caught a bad case of good morals."

*That's a lie* he thought, insulted, and his cock throbbed sympathetically. It was just that he was frantically confused, only certain that he had to stop what was happening before it got them into the kind of trouble likely to attract the attention of a temperamental divinity.

He tried to shove Iphicles away again, but no matter how female the king may have become, he was still taller and outweighed Iolaus by fifty pounds. Hands groping his chest, ass, and crotch kept demanding Iolaus's attention. When had Iphicles grown more arms than an octopus?

 "Iphicles, you're not" *playing fair, (Just like a woman)*  "in your right mi...body. Don't do that!" he said as he was forced to let go of the king's hips to extract the king's fingers from the laces of his pants.

"You don't get offers like this every day," Iphicles said, twining sinuously around him and making it impossible for him to lace himself back up.

*Thank Hermaphrodite!*

"Iphicles, don't! This is not happening!" *I draw the line at fucking virgin kings in crazy bodies who look like snotty gods.uh.I mean snotty kings in virgin's bodies who look like crazy gods? Whatever!* One of the king's hands was inside his vest again, doing delightfully painful things to his nipples, and the other was insinuating itself down the back of his pants.

"Where's that sense of adventure you were bragging to me about?" Iphicles asked.

Over the years, to be sure, Iolaus had made happy smiles with men, women and, occasionally, a friendly creature who could give informed consent, but he had never been in a situation like this before. This couldn't be the sweet thrill of discovering a woman's body for the first time. *Don't even think 'first time'-Herc will kill you if Ares doesn't.* But Iphicles' new voice was low, musical, and so thrillingly imperative that you could hear the whip cracking behind it.

Iolaus moaned and started banging his head softly against Iphicles' collarbone. It wasn't the dulcet tone making the hair on his arms stand up; it was its similarity to Ares', on the rare occasions the god chose to be charming-insidiously reminding him that this was a life-threatening situation.

He made the mistake of looking up and was transfixed anew by softly parted lips, flushed rose-red and swollen; by the half-closed eyes, the pupils so dilated that they appeared black. It was the most wantonly, beautiful face he had ever seen, even if it did look like. . .*don't go there!* He knew that any other day, in any other situation, he would have fallen on his knees and worshiped Iphicles with his mouth, hands, and cock.

"Iolaus," Iphicles said, and flexed his shoulders, "you've been a soldier in the war between the sexes for years. Don't pass up a chance to infiltrate."

The king's dress was still damp, almost transparent, and Iolaus didn't dare look down; there would be strands of apricot hair plastered across those full breasts with their dark aureoles showing through the fabric and the nipples standing up like ripe cherries close to his lips. He swallowed.

"You were right about the breasts. *(Iphicles could read minds now?)* They're so sensitive I could bring myself off just from the friction." The king made 'friction' into a three-syllable word and cheated a leg between Iolaus' thighs

He heard himself whimpering and had to close his eyes as Iphicles' thigh pressed up and started rocking back and forth. It felt so good. His hands had slipped just a little way down Iphicles' waist to cup the firm buttocks. It couldn't hurt if he drew them just a little closer as Iphicles eased the vest down his shoulders.*yes, that was better--more skin to be touched.*

Iolaus sighed, opened his eyes and saw 'gotcha' written as plainly on Iphicles' face as if it had been inscribed there in Linear B.

*You bi-bastard!* he thought in awe.* You know exactly how much I want to fuck you. He didn't know how he managed to stop, but he stopped, catching Iphicles' hands and squeezing back a hair's breadth. But they were still thigh to thigh and Iolaus was on the receiving end of an all-too-familiar black-eyed glare. He felt like a rabbit in one of his own traps. If he opened his mouth, he'd start gibbering.

"Y-you're hysterical, Iphicles; you don't want to do this," he gibbered. "You'll thank me someday." *But will I? *

Iphicles went rigid. "This would be a lot easier if you'd co-operate," he said. Iolaus thought *I'm a dead man.*

Then, like the sun breaking through the storm earlier, he saw Iphicles' rare, full dimpled smile and felt a sensation against his belly that took him a moment to identify as the king's stomach muscles fluttering against his. Iphicles was trying not to laugh. That almost undid him, but he contained himself and, smugly proud of his self-control, dared to relax and smile too, sure now that Iphicles was seeing how ridiculous the whole thing was.

"Iolaus?" Iphicles said. "Do you remember that song about the masculine girl who took a feminine boy to her room?"

"No," he said. "What happened?"

"This." Iphicles bent down and picked him up over one shoulder. Iolaus found himself looking up at the floor in shock just before his vest fell over his head. He suddenly understood why some women liked to fantasize about this, and started to laugh. "Iphicles?" he said.

"What now?" Iphicles snapped.

"Will you let me be on top?"

"No." The king dropped him on the bed and stood over him. "I could get fifty denars for this downstairs and it hasn't been exactly flattering that you wouldn't take the rest for free." Iphicles undid the top of his dress, freeing his breasts from their gentle confinement. Iolaus whimpered as it fell; his eyes followed it the entire way down as the garment took the slow road over Iphicles' hips and pooled on the floor. Any inclination he'd had to continue the argument was long dead when Iphicles tumbled onto bed beside him.

* * *

Under other circumstances Iphicles would have been in awe of the hunter's capacity for restraint-horny gods probably never seduced Iolaus. But now that he was on the verge of winning, Iphicles found himself in the position of anyone who's ever gotten their way but doesn't know what to do with it.  He could have used a little help. Iphicles recognized the look on the hunter's face, (The gods knew he recognized it.) but even if the hunter had stopped arguing, he was just lying there looking stunned.

"Contact," he'd heard some general say, "is the word, which perhaps better than any other, indicates the dividing line between strategy and tactics."

The decision to seduce Iolaus had been a strategic one. Iphicles brushed the hunter's codpiece and the touch evoked a strangled gasp from the man.  *Contact. He's aroused, now get him naked before he thinks of another excuse-that would be Ares' version of practical tactics too.*

The purple vest had come down around Iolaus's elbows. Iphicles wasn't ready to trust Iolaus's compliance and it made an effective restraint, so he left it where it was and concentrated on getting the boots unlaced. Iolaus lifted his head to watch him work but he really started to come to life when the second hit the floor. An agile pelvic shimmy made short work of the pants and liberated at last from its prison, his cock sprang up from its nest of dark blond curls, bouncing slightly.

Iphicles left Iolaus to struggle mightily with the vest on his own, took a deep breath and straddled the hunter's legs. The cock twitched like a divining rod, aiming at the cleft between his, but only managing to lodge in the bend of hip and thigh where it left hot, wet smears on his skin. When he took it in his hand, it was warm, almost alive, and he could feel Iolaus's heartbeat through it. He pulled on it hard. The shaft wasn't as long as his had been, but it was solid and as thick as the first two joints of his thumb. Iolaus closed his eyes, groaned and pushed it up into Iphicles' hand.

"When Rena and I were courting," Iphicles spoke his thoughts aloud, " we used to take a blanket and go up into the hills above Phlagra. She used to sit and play with me like this." He stroked some more, then fluffed the russet curls of his pubic hair by drawing the cock in an arc across them. He rubbed his thumb in circles below the flaring lip of the helmet. He got up on his knees and began to tease himself, just as he remembered his wife doing. "My cock was her favorite toy."

He took Iolaus's cock and slowly pushed it between his lips to the center, where it found a rich moisture and slipped easily over thickly lubricated petals of soft flesh. As he rubbed it back and forth, there was a lush, moist, sucking sound he could barely hear because they were both breathing so loudly. He briefly touched the spot where he'd found the pearl in his earlier exploration and tried to describe the sensation to Iolaus. "Can you feel that? Rena used to do it. It feels. . .good." 'Good' didn't begin to describe it.

He pulled away and looked down; the cock's blunt helmet was satiny with juice. The dark, swollen tip of his clit was peeking at it from the red folds of his cunt and throbbing. The cock's eye spurted a few drops of cream; he brought it back to the aching bit of flesh and, just touching it, made circles. . .over and over and. . .  .

"Iphicles," a soft, desperate voice said. Distracted by the delicious tingle, he hadn't noticed he'd closed his eyes. He could feel himself flush; Iolaus must have been watching his face while he pleasured himself. Freed from the tangle of vest, the hunter's hands were urging him to raise himself. "Let me eat you," he begged/ordered.

The naked greed on Iolaus's face made Iphicles spread his thighs wider and he laughed in sympathy with the sudden joy in the other man's eyes. By the time Iolaus had managed to squirm so that his blond head was between Iphicles thighs, they were both laughing in uncontrollable bursts. From that position, the hunter could reach his waist from behind. Iolaus took a firm grip and pulled Iphicles down. Cool breath tickled his heated flesh like butterfly wings, just before he buried himself-nose, lips, and chin, in Iphicles' cunt.

A satin tongue found his clit and began to make the same delicate swirls he'd done with the cock head, but this time it felt like he was being washed with velvet. He moaned, arched his back and opened himself completely to Iolaus' kiss. When he felt teeth gently biting and the light sucking, his nerves almost overloaded and he started bucking with the various sensations.  But Iolaus held on to him. He was losing control, he didn't care; his body chased after the tiny bursts of pleasure singing along his nerves and gathered them up

For an eternity, he rocked on Iolaus's face, sweating in the heat, moaning, letting sweetness build. Iolaus's fingers dug deep in his ass urging him back and forth and his body responded to the hunter's commands. Once Iolaus lifted him off and they looked at each other. Iphicles was furious, he didn't want to stop. They were both panting, Iolaus's face was glossy from chin to cheek, his lips were swollen, and the salt-smell of the tide was between them. From the way Iolaus was staring, Iphicles wondered if he had anything like that abandoned expression on his own face. He wondered at his ability to wonder.

He saw Iolaus's gaze drop to his nipples; they were hard and pink. He took them between his own fingers and began to twist. He groaned and threw his head back, showing Iolaus he could harvest his own pleasure.

Iolaus growled, pulled him back down and returned to his labor. Iphicles felt sensation spiking in his center and must have given it away somehow.  He felt teeth test his flesh just before the hunter's mouth locked on his clit again and began to suck-hard.

Held to the fire, he couldn't move but he screamed and his cunt and ass throbbed in bright ecstasy. It felt like a fountain in his center was overflowing at breast and cunt.

He was falling and Iolaus's hands slipped on his wet skin, but the hunter sat up and caught him. They slid over each other, turning until he was on his back and Iolaus was up between his legs, lifting his knees and spreading them. He was still caught in the waves of pleasure, but he felt a fiercer, darker need and Iolaus, cock poised at his wet center, looked at him for permission. Angry at the delay-couldn't Iolaus see he *needed?* He pushed against it-demanding. The hunter bowed his head and thrust.  For a moment, before giving way, his muscles resisted and, briefly, he was
afraid. But Iolaus held back, filling him slowly. A different pleasure, soul deep and satisfying rose inside him. Ares voice: *It doesn't have the essential qualification.* Not to dedicate it to Artemis, it doesn't. He laughed and thrust back against Iolaus. *Trust the God of War not to screw around with virgin births.* He'd have to make a Thanks-offering. . .later.  Right now, he was breathless with sensation and at the sight of the hunter's transfigured face.

Hips flexing deliberately back and forth, Iolaus was obeying the orders of a power that didn't acknowledge anything as inconsequential as a name. But Hephaestus must look like that forging Zeus's lightning. Beaded with sweat (drops of it were raining on Iphicles' face and chest), Iolaus was crying as though he were being pulled apart. Then the rhythm broke and the thrusts became ragged and desperate as Iolaus pounded his seed into Iphicles' cunt-and tripped the King into a gut pulsing deep orgasm for the second time.

This time it was the hunter who collapsed, although he caught himself just before the entire weight of his body fell on Iphicles. His breath coming in short, hot puffs Iolaus leaned down and kissed Iphicles' forehead, eyes and mouth. His moist lips clung to Iphicles' skin leaving it reluctantly just before Iolaus fell beside him. Iolaus looked exhausted.

Lying there, eyes half closed, the hunter licked his lips and smiled a sleepy, sated smile. He reached out a hand and pushed strands of sopping hair from Iphicles' face. "You're so beautiful," he whispered and fell asleep.

Iphicles opened his mouth. Somewhere he thought there's a goddess snickering her head off.

Iolaus's hand had fallen on his shoulder, he was too sticky and damp to tolerate the touch but, when he picked it up, some impulse made him press a quick kiss on it before tucking it under the hunter's chin. *Why'd you have to be so stubborn?* He closed his own eyes for a moment and was asleep instantly.

* * *

Hercules woke for the third time still enfolded in Iphicles' arms. Careful not to disturb his brother, he eased himself off the bed and went to relieve himself. When he returned, Iphicles had rolled on his back and was sleeping as deeply as only children and cats can. One hand was open on the pillow beside his head. Hercules studied his brother's face. It felt was as though he could still feel those lips tenderly kissing him and he was tempted to climb back in bed. But there were purple circles carved beneath the dark fan of Iphicles' eyelashes and he regretfully let the thought go. *After tonight, this will be over. I'm going to make you take a few days off. We'll go fishing or sailing and Corinth can go hang.*

He stretched throwing his head back, enjoying the sheer pleasure of being able to move without pain. He stretched, working the kinks out of his back, and bent, retrieving the linen sheet that had fallen on the floor. He didn't see his clothes anywhere and, considering the condition he had been in, that was probably just as well. Iphicles might have something that could fit him later; for now, he knotted the sheet around his waist and walked out on the terrace to absorb some of that heat he'd envied the lizards basking in.

The hot tile felt good beneath his callused feet as he walked toward the balcony. Below him in the courtyard, servants were setting lamps for the ceremonies tonight and out beyond the walls, the city slept too. Dormant in the heat and humidity of late afternoon, Corinthians waited for evening to socialize. All the shops and taverns would reopen, and the day's business would be concluded over food and wine. Many would gather below, to hear the formal pronouncements of the new trade agreements and watch the processions of gaudily dressed foreigners make their departure-and be surprised by the new treaty with Sparta.

It's going to relieve a lot of people's fears, Hercules thought. It seemed as though war with Athens had been inevitable. Iphicles won't be remembered as a great hero-king, the way that Jason is, but every mother who has a son will love him.

The wind picked up and whipped his hair around his face stinging his cheeks and eyelids. He raised his hand to brush it away and saw on his wrist a healing red scar. The spear's poisoned barb had left its mark. Thoughtlessly he touched it to his mouth and the gesture triggered a dream/memory from his sickness: Ares in the wild, eyes blazing red, sucking his palm and mocking.

Inside the room he had just come from, his brother slept with one hand open on the pillow beside him.with a healing scar on the palm just like this one.

"Come inside, someone may see you." He threw his head up, Iphicles' voice came from behind him behind him. "You're supposed to have gone home." A cold finger drawn down his spine made him shiver and bridle like a startled horse. He wasn't standing close enough to the balustrade to be seen from the ground.

Powerful hands slipped around his waist, then warmth spread against his back as he was embraced. He could feel the black robe that Iphicles had been wearing and recognized the faint, bitter scent of myrrh perfuming it-the incense of a god's temple. Lips nuzzled his neck. "Come back inside, you shouldn't be up yet," his brother whispered.

"I'm-fine," he said. Covering his brother's hands with his own, he turned them slightly outward and could see the scar, as fresh as his, marring the sun-browned skin. He rubbed his thumb over it feeling the difference in texture between the new flesh and the old. The hands broke from his light grasp, wandered up his chest, found his nipples already tense, and covered them. His brother's head rested on his shoulder, hips undulated gently against his buttocks, teasing his ass with a hard promise just as Iph.Ares' hands had teased him earlier in the day.feeding him olives and.

"Just tell me he's alive," Hercules said.

* * *

*I'm too late!* Iphicles started awake, heart pounding in fear.

"It's all right," said a soothing voice. Iolaus was leaning on an elbow beside him; the hunter put a calming hand on Iphicles' shoulder. Then he leaned down and kissed him. "I've been wishing I could do that since you fell on me."

"Be careful what you wish for," Iphicles said. *I used to wish for what Hercules had.*

There were dry white patches on Iolaus's jaw and his lips had the sharp taste of a woman's sex. Iolaus used the edge of his thumb to trace the line of Iphicles' cheek. "I know." He looked so guilty that Iphicles felt sick. "I've been trying to imagine Herc's face, when I tell him. I can't. Why. . ."

"Do you remember," he interrupted, "when we were kids, the old blind prophet, Teiresias, who lived outside of town?"

"Yes," Iolaus looked confused but his eyes narrowed, "mean old bastard-always whacking me with that staff of his and telling me I'd come to a bad end."

"Yeah, he used to whack me and say I didn't deserve my good fortune. It gave me the creeps, I could never figure out how he knew where to aim," Iphicles said. "He used to come by the house caging meals and telling Mother how 'the women were going to sing at their spinning of Hercules' deeds, and of the woman who bore him.' You can imagine how that felt." He looked straight at Iolaus. "Did you know how he got his powers of second sight?"

"No-I never thought about it."

"He changed sex and worked in Thebes as a temple harlot for seven years."

"Oof!" Iolaus winced. "That must have been one ugly harlot" He looked sideways at Iphicles. "I hope you're not planning on emulating him."

"You think they'd give me a job downstairs? He used to say women had the better part of the deal sexually and I'm beginning to think he was right."

From glance Iolaus gave him this time, it looked like he was thinking Iph's finally shipped both oars. Iphicles looked at the ceiling; there was graffiti up there too. Some poor bastard had gone all that way to complain: 'Lalage cheated me'. If it hadn't been so appropriate, he would have been laughing hysterically.

Iolaus managed to sit up on the bed despite the limited space, and lifted his hands as though he wanted to strangle Iphicles. "Very funny, now tell me what in Tartarus is going on! Tell me you know what you're doing. When someone is trying to wipe out your entire family, how you can. . ." The hunter's voice kept rising until he suddenly appeared to remember who he was yelling at, then he lowered it and growled. "Iphicles. . . ."

Iolaus was seriously angry and Iphicles didn't blame him. He'd left his best friend sick and vulnerable. Probably feels he's been following a lunatic.  And if I open my mouth Iphicles thought I'll prove it- but Iolaus deserves the truth.

"While you were cutting up the apple." His voice broke. He started again. "I saw you and me. Years from now, in the future. . . and Hercules." He trailed off.

In the silence, Iolaus grabbed his wrists and jerked him upright. "Hercules what?"

"I thought'. . . I-I thought I could make it not happen if we screwed."

Iolaus said very deliberately, "Make what not happen?"

Iphicles felt exposed and furious.

They glared at each other.

"I love him and he's going to burn," he finally said, as though it were an explanation. If Iolaus squeezed his wrists any harder, he was going to break them.

"Hercules dreams that he's dying in flames!" Iolaus ground out. "And there isn't anything you wouldn't do to stop it-anything-including sleep with me!" He started to roar, shaking Iphicles the entire time. "You should have told me." And suddenly stopped, his blue eyes getting huge. "Are y-you saying that y-you.?" The stammer got worse when Iphicles nodded, "You -you m-mean y-you c-can see the future?"

Iphicles saw the rage in Iolaus's eyes being replaced with relief and adawning astonishment, but he felt more isolated than ever. Driven to the end of his tether, and ready to start screaming himself, he rushed to say, "It's like a broken mirror. I see shards of images. But I don't know they're the truth."

The hunter said, "Yes you do-you thought this would make a difference."

The acceptance was unbearable. Iphicles only knew he'd broken when Iolaus was gathering him in his arms and rocking him. Iphicles buried his face in Iolaus's neck. "There's a chance." He said between racking sobs. "I have to be at the ceremony tonight." When he stopped crying, he tried to sit up.  Iolaus wouldn't let him go and Iphicles couldn't find the will to fight.

"We've plenty of time." The blond soothed and held him, as much, it seemed for his comfort as for Iphicles'. Then he said. "Do you trust me?"

"With my life." It was the truth.

"Then damn you to Tartarus, Iphicles. I love him too, and I think I'm falling in love with you." The hunter swore softly. "I don't care what you are-king or fucking goddess, but if you hold out on me again, I'm going to turn you over my knee and give you the beating of your life with a bull's pizzle."

Iphicles lifted his head, mouth open in shock to ask who-the-fuck Iolaus thought he was. He saw the ferocious scowl on Iolaus's face and realized the hunter believed him implicitly--but he was still angry. Iolaus's cock was poking his stomach and he remembered its thickness filling him. His cunt pulsed. *Contact.*

Then they were attacking each other. Bodies grappling together, mouths sucking and biting. Their hands probed and pulled at whatever bit of flesh they touched as they tried to get closer together. Iphicles, confused by his roiling emotions and the lust, piled on top of Iolaus. He wanted to pound furiously in to that hard little body, but he was totally confounded by the impulse and the lack of something to do it with. Iolaus saw the confusion on his face and, with a crow of triumph, flipped him and slammed him down on his face.

The bed was too flimsy for such calisthenics, one of the legs buckled slightly throwing them against the wall. The hunter got his hands under Iphicles' waist, pulled his ass up and shoved his legs apart. The plaster scraped Iphicles' shoulder. He could feel Iolaus's cock poking at his hole and pushed against it. Iolaus rammed into him hard, but that was what he wanted and he moaned with satisfaction. Perfect position, he decided-for a man or a woman. He could feel the entire length of Iolaus's cock slipping in and out of him. *This must be how the sheath feels; perfectly fitted for the blade.*

Underneath, Iolaus's hand found his clit. The palm was working over it as he pumped. Iolaus's other hand stroked Iphicles' hair urging him to turn his head for a kiss. Iphicles tasted his own sex again. He closed his eyes. The voice in his ear was gasping rhythmically: 'Beautiful bitch, love you, cunt, love you, beautiful tight cunt, bitch' like a litany. When Iolaus suddenly stopped, he was holding Iphicles at a great height and the hunter whispered, "come for me, baby." And began to thrust into him again, slowly at first but building and building until Iphicles came hard, sobbing his pleasure, and Iolaus was coming too in incoherent grunts and moans, his body jerking as he poured himself into Iphicles.

They were entangled, crushed together against the wall when it was over.  Iphicles had gotten tucked under Iolaus's chin and they were both still breathless.   It wasn't comfortable, but neither of them felt like moving and Iolaus was stroking his ass.

"It's against the law to threaten to beat me with a bull's pizzle," he grumbled. He suspected the force of his complaint was undercut by the fact that he was tolerating the petting.

"Gets you all hot and bothered, does it?" Iolaus snickered, and kissed the top of his head.

In answer, Iphicles wiggled his ass and Iolaus gently rolled their bodies apart. Iphicles made a little noise of complaint but the expression on Iolaus' face was a perfect blend of reverence and impudence. The hunter stroked his hand down Iphicles' front, pausing to cup a breast and bent to suckle on the nipple for a few moments.

Then Iolaus went on, pushed his hand between Iphicles' legs, and dipped a finger in his own dripping juice. Iphicles pushed down on it, wishing they had time...that Iolaus would...but Iolaus took it out and used the wet finger to draw a circle around his navel. "We can try it again another time-without the extended foreplay."

Iphicles snorted in frustration. "Somehow, I haven't managed to be on top yet." Iolaus grinned and rubbed the tip of Iphicles' nose with the sticky finger. "And you don't have to look so smug." He caught the finger. "Smells like..."

"Don't say it." Iolaus kissed him. "It smells like nectar." Iphicles ignored the lie and began to suck on it, watching Iolaus from under his eyelids, enjoying the rapt expression on the hunter's face. Then Iolaus sucked in a breath and said, "You are much too hot in that body."

It all came back in sickening rush and he had to fold Iolaus's finger back into his hand. *Later for that too.* He gave the hand a promising pat and looked at Iolaus who drew back at the change in Iphicles' expression.  "Sorry, but it kills the mood when you quote the words of the brat-god who stuck me in this body in the first place." While Iolaus grimaced, he struggled to sit up. "We have some Olympian butt to kick, and we both need a bath.  They wouldn't let us in the palace kitchen with the fishmonger's cart, smelling like this."

Iolaus's lips twitched, but he didn't argue. He helped Iphicles sit on the edge of the bed. "I know where the rain barrel is. I'll fill a bucket and be right back."

He'd picked up his pants and was about to step into them when Kazon broke the door open.

There was a frozen moment when they all stared at each other. Then Iolaus said. "What do you want, Brass Ass? This is none of your business."

The Sergeant walked into the tiny room, shut the door behind him, turned and drew his sword.

"Yes it is, Blondie, you're poaching Iphy's quail, and he's not going to like that." The sergeant was smiling but there was something ugly in his face, and the glance he threw at Iphicles made him wish gism wasn't running down his legs. "It's too bad that I didn't get here in time to stop you." There was no real regret in the Sergeant's voice.

"What are you talking about?" Iolaus said.

Iphicles stood up and lunged for the hunting knife still lying beside the lunch they hadn't eaten. He got hold of it. Kazon, though, didn't spare him a glance; maybe he didn't think it was a credible threat in Iphicles hand.  "Can't say I blame you," he was telling Iolaus in a very man to man sort of way. "I like big girls too, but this one's been a real pain in the ass."

"I said, what are you talking about? Did 'King Iphicles' send you?" Iolaus demanded and Iphicles moved closer to him.

Kazon finally seemed to notice the knife and grinned. "You should have stayed in the kitchen, Sweets. Then you wouldn't have run into the man who raped and murdered you."

Iolaus went white. "Look, Kazon, I know we haven't been the best of friends, but. . ." Iolaus was so focused on Kazon and he didn't seem to occur to him that, together, they could take the man out. But Kazon clearly knew it.

"Shut up, Blondie," he said and took a jab at Iphicles. It wasn't a serious threat, Iphicles parried easily, but it terrified Iolaus and he thrust his body between them.

*Stupid,* Iphicles' mind yelled, *that's what he wants!*

The sergeant grabbed Iolaus's wrist and twisted it behind his back, forcing the smaller man to turn until his arm was jammed up between his shoulder blades. He was practically standing on his toes, when Kazon placed the edge his blade against his throat.

"Shortie, you weren't part of my orders, but you're going to make an awfully convenient scapegoat when I find the body," Kazon informed Iolaus. He looked at Iphicles. "Put the knife down, Sweets."

"If I. . ." Iphicles started to speak and Kazon drew the sword back.  Iphicles could see the blood running down Iolaus's neck. "This is treason," he said.

"Shut up, bitch." Kazon pulled the blade further back. Iolaus's back was already bowed against the pain, now he groaned. Iphicles set the knife on the table.

Just as he did, he thought he saw the sergeant's grip slacken. And Iolaus must have felt it because he tried to break free. But Kazon pulled the hunter's arm up and brought the butt of his sword down above Iolaus's right temple and he collapsed.

Kazon left him where he fell. The Sergeant was a one-murder-at-a-time kind of guy, or else he his priorities in order, because he used the point of the sword to indicate that Iphicles should get back on the bed.

Iphicles had seen the look on his face on the faces of men's after a battle, when the orders are 'no prisoners'. He started to stall. "You're going to rape me?"

"Sorry, Sweets. Don't worry, I'll make it quick."

*Oh shit! Oh fuck!* Kazon really did mean to kill him! *Let's take our time about it.* He threw himself back on the bed, spread his legs and showed the man everything he had. *You like big girls, do you?*

Kazon came to a halt, looking like he'd been clubbed. He stood starring, but Iphicles saw the flick of his tongue and how his hand tightened on the hilt of the sword.

Iphicles put his hand between his legs and began to play with himself. Kazon didn't move, but the sword bobbled. Iphicles let his breathing become harsh and held up his fingers to show how wet they were. Then he inserted the middle one into his cunt and began to move it in and out.

"The King," he said. "And his brother...They both had me."

Kazon was breathing through his mouth.

"One after the other and then at the same time." Iphicles took a chance, closed his eyes briefly, rolled his hips and moaned. "There's nothing like being fucked by two cocks at the same time. There's nothing like it... I had a king's cock in my ass and a  demi-god's...."

"Fuckin' Athenian whore." Kazon screamed. He sounded nearly insane with rage. But he lowered his sword and started fumbling with his belt buckle.  "No fuckin' whore's bastard is going to sit on the throne of Corinth!" *Zeus, you're a fanatic! But what in Tartarus are you on about? You don't even know I'm. . .?* Iphicles let it drop; he couldn't afford the distraction. The Sergeant's belt fell and he was undoing his cuirass and he was still talking. "You're asking for this, and I'm gonna give it to you good and then I'm gonna. . . ." Kazon let his breastplate drop and unlaced his pants. His cock, when he pulled it out, was stiff and the tip was the color of raw liver. *Things I could have gone my entire life without knowing* Iphicles decided. But he sat up and licked his lips lasciviously. *C'mere you sucker. Come to Mama. If you're close enough to fuck, you're close enough to kill.*

Kazon hobbled over to him. Handicapped by the pants hanging around his thighs and pulling on his cock, he should have looked ridiculous but the expression on the man's face wasn't at all funny. There was a moment, as he came, that Iphicles thought *this isn't going to work!* That Kazon was going to stab him. But rather than try to rape Iphicles encumbered, the Sergeant stuck the blade between the end of the mattress and the box frame, where it was convenient to his right hand.

And Iolaus's knife was still on the table; Iphicles could see the handle of it jutting beyond the rim only a few inches out of reach. If he could get an opening. . . .

Kazon grabbed his hair, jerked Iphicles' head back and presented himself.

Sucking cock, unless it was his brother's, was an activity Iphicles had avoided since boot camp. There was a reason for that: damn few were as sweet as Herc's. Kazon's smelled like goat cheese and his disgust must have shown in his face. Kazon slapped him.

Furious Iphicles made a mistake and grabbed for the knife too soon. Kazon wasn't the fool he seemed; he'd been expecting the move. He just swung an arm back, flipping the knife to the other side of the room.

Then he really went to work on Iphicles.

Once, twice, and again and again until Iphicles was seeing stars. "Think you're too good for a real man, do you, you Athenian bitch? Think you're too good for me." With every word, Kazon slapped him until he'd knocked him flat. Then he climbed on top of him. The pain as Kazon bit his breast lifted Iphicles to a pitch of fury he hadn't known he was capable off. In a clear frozen moment, he knew what he was going to do. When Kazon lifted his legs, opening him for penetration he thought, *in the last two days, I've had a demi-god, a god and a hero. You? You're nothing!*  And he rolled back on his shoulders, wrapped his thighs around Kazon's neck, and twisted. *Close enough to fuck is close enough to kill.*

Kazon was making a gurgling noise.

"Iphicles." From far away he heard Iolaus's' croaking voice; the hunter had come to.

Kazon was grunting, wrenching with his hands trying to pry Iphicles' legs from his neck. He compressed his thighs and twisted harder. But the sloping angle of the bed threw his balance off and reduced leverage.

He could hear Iolaus scrambling on the floor.

Suddenly the hunter was on his knees behind Kazon. Iphicles saw the glint of steel. He felt the jolt as it went through Kazon's body and saw the irritated surprise in his face.

Iphicles twisted hard again and, with a sickening crack, he broke Kazon's neck.

For a moment, like a wax tableau, everything was still. Iolaus's wheezing breath was the only sound in the room.

Then Kazon's body started to sag and he put a foot under it, kicked it to the floor, and sat up.

Kazon lay there staring in dumb astonishment at the ceiling. The small paring knife he'd stolen from the kitchen protruding from his side.

"I never liked that guy," he said. "Now I know why."

His face felt swollen and hot and there was blood on his belly and thighs.  Iolaus was staring at him in shocked horror, as though it were impossible for him to grasp the enormity of what had almost happened.

"Iph. . ." Iolaus's voice was still damaged.

His stomach lurched; there was no time to stop and reassure. He stood up, thought he was going to lose his balance for a moment, then staggered to the window. He pushed the heavy shutters out, leaned over the sill and retched. There was practically nothing in his stomach and it hurt.

But as he hung there gasping and drooling, he saw parked below the window, one of the honey wagons that went about Corinth collecting the city's night soil. The driver no doubt, was skiving off inside the Dryad.

It was likely his face was as green as Iolaus's when he turned. Pointing at Kazon's body, he said, "Give me a hand." Obviously confused but willing to do anything Iphicles said, Iolaus took Kazon's body under the arms as Iphicles took the feet. It wasn't easy; Iphicles had to stop twice because he was gagging. But they hauled it to the window, hoisted it over the sill and let it go.

The wagon trough was half full and Kazon's body made a satisfactory 'kersplunk.' "Ah," Iphicles said as it sank in the shit, "with any luck nobody will go fishing in that for a while."

Then he turned around again, leaned against the wall and slid all the way down to the floor. Iolaus folded up and hunkered beside him. They clung to each other, desperately in need of animal comfort. Iphicles could still hear the sound of a dry stick breaking in his ears.

"Should have been able to nail the bastard s-sooner," he said. He felt like giggling. They must smell all the way to Olympus: sweat, sex, and now the funk of fear and drying blood. But Iolaus was alive and warm in his arms and that look of wonder was back on the hunter's face. He tried to ask if the hunter was all right but his teeth chattered too badly.

Iphicles gently touched his cheek. It hurt. "I wouldn't have thought of breaking his neck like that," the hunter said.

"I-I haven't completely gotten the hang of this female thing yet. But you go with what you got." His voice was a little more under control but his hands were still shaking violently. They rattled as he combed his fingers through the hunter's sweat matted hair and found the bump from the sword hilt had left. There was no blood there but he tilted the hunter's chin and saw the abraded neck. That wound looked raw. "That's a bad scrape."

Iolaus touched it, winced and looked at his red fingers. "I can't believe Ares sent him to kill you."

If Ares had wanted them dead, they'd be in a line for ferryboat tickets right now, not sitting here licking their wounds. When the God of War meant business, you were a smoking pile of ash in the center of a mile-wide crater and 'collateral damage' didn't begin to cover it. He saw Iolaus realize that.

"Kazon didn't know who you were, did he?" the hunter said.

"No," Iphicles said. "He though I was Iphy's quail."

And then he put it together.

*Iphy's possibly pregnant quail!*

After a moment he said, "And whoever sent him wouldn't have minded framing Hercules' best friend for the murder."

"So it's the same person who poisoned the hunting spears and set up Ares to kill you." Iolaus swallowed. "I saw Kazon here this morning, downstairs with the Spartan ambassador's wife.I've never seen a man look so pussy whipped."  He dabbled at his neck again. "I guess it wasn't the Spartan ambassador's wife."

"Probably not," Iphicles agreed.

"Do you think Ares knows who it is?"

Iphicles lifted his head and looked-not a one of those bright shards he told Iolaus about, gave him a clue.

"I can't tell," he said finally. He leaned over and caught the dress he'd dropped so long ago, dragged it over and began to wipe the blood off his legs. His hands were still trembling. Iolaus noticed, took the green rag away and began to do the job for him. "I wish I knew. He's got Hercules."

"There's that-but sometimes it seems as though Herc's his favorite toy."  Iolaus said. "And he's pissed or he wouldn't still be hanging around."

"I do know that whoever set this up made a big mistake accusing him of killing a baby." Iphicles said.

"What ever he'd do in the course of a war, I don't think he'd kill one in cold blood-no matter whose it was.

He looked at the hunter. Iolaus was looking at him strangely. Iphicles reached out to touch him again and the visions came. He laughed, finally putting some more of it together. "Oh, that explains. . ." he tapered off.  He heard Iolaus begging him from a distance, *Iphicles, no visions! Not now--no more visions! We're out of time!*

Part 8:  Bare Witness

"Just tell me he's alive," Hercules said. The lips that had been nuzzling his shoulder made a move to capture his mouth and soft whiskers caught in the stubble of his beard. A python with amatory intentions was embracing him. "Tell me."

Sickened and sweating he jerked his face away and the snake's tongue flickered in his ear. The god sighed. "He's alive."

There was no comfort in the words. Hercules shivered and the arms around him tightened, compounding the bubbling fear he felt for Iphicles with the unease he always felt when even lightly restrained. He tried to shrug free and failed. "Let go," he barked but Ares clung to him and kissed his shoulder.

"No, you'll try to hit me." There was laughter in the voice.

"I'll rip your head off and stuff it up your ass," Hercules promised, twisting and shoving backwards.

Ares braced and stuck. "There's gratitude for you. I haul your sorry, poisoned carcass home, try to help your stiff-necked (although I admit he's divinely beautiful) brother."

The arrogance - "You impersonated Iphicles and raped me!" Hercules threw his head back trying to crack the god's skull and got jolted against Ares' chest for his effort. "You lying son of a..."

"Watch your mo - !"

An elbow in the gut and the god shut up as Hercules wrenched against the coils around him. But they seemed to squeeze tighter and tighter and he went berserk. Screaming, wrenching his body around, twisting, kicking - until he was plucked off of his feet and dangled in the god's arms while his own breath rasped in his ears.

Ares shook him, and said, "Stop it! I am not letting go this time."

He moaned in despair, dimly apprehending that he could flail against the power that held him for eternity never be able to strangle it. The roaring black started to close in again and his body tensed, gathering itself for another assault.

"Look," Ares said.yanking his head back sharply, forcing him to look toward the horizon where the sun was setting.

Dim and bloody as it was, it was impossible to stare at. He closed his tear-blind eyes and sagged against Ares' chest, shivering uncontrollably as the inevitable reaction set in.

The sun dropped lower until, finally, the arm around his waist relaxed slightly and he felt the hot tiles under his feet. A hand lifted and turned his head so that he looked into fathomless eyes and became fascinated by the tiny crimson glints in depths of them. A thumb stroked the ridge of his cheek and gathered up the tears before sliding to the pressure point of his jaw. The knot holding the sheet came undone. It slipped down his thighs, bunched on the tile and the noise he made was an inarticulate plea for freedom even though he knew he'd collapse at Ares' feet.

"Not yet." Fingers combed his pubic hair. His aching cock was enclosed in heat and a blunt thumb spread wetness over the tip, while one of the fingers at his jaw spread out to touch and trace his mouth. "Not yet.... There's no way I've had enough of you yet." He could feel a damp spot on his hip where the god's cock was poking him. "Give." His head twisted further at Ares' order and his body had to pivot with it, until they were face to face, their cocks nuzzling each other.

Ares took hold of Hercules' right hand with his, laced their fingers together and rubbed them against the soft velvet pouch that held his balls. Then he raised them - still welded together and so heavily fragrant with musk that Hercules caught his breath - and kissed them. "I haven't lied to you," he said.

Then the god leaned forward, released Hercules' hand, and cupped his face before bending and sliding his hands down the demi-god's neck and chest. Thumbs spread wide to rub circles around Hercules' nipples, Ares' hands measured his ribcage, found and shaped the hollows of his waist and hips. Ares bowed, pausing in the middle of genuflecting, to chase the rim of his navel with his tongue and fell on both knees in front of him.

Hercules looked down in shock to see his cock kissed and the brash tip of his brother's nose bury itself in light brown curls as Ares' tongue searched for his sac. Carefully, he felt each egg warmed and fondled and his flesh was wet when Ares released it to blow a soft puff of air. He felt deep muscles clench and tighten and he couldn't help gasping when Ares swallowed him and began to suck.

Enraged and astonished, he watched the dark head bob up and down and tangled his fingers in Ares' hair to try and push him away. But the profusion of midnight curls felt like silk between his fingers and the tongue churning around his cock urged him to come. It all felt too good and unable to either push away or give in, he baited Ares, deliberately pulling his cock back and bushing it over the lush lips, holding it just out of their reach. Although the last thing he felt was amused, he laughed. How was it possible to be so turned on by someone who'd hated him from his first breath?

Ares raised his eyes and the reflected light of the sun, just touching the horizon, caught and gilded the god's face and he was looking at Iphicles' image - remembering the fever dream, when he couldn't tell which of them he'd loved.

"You," Ares whispered and the sound of his voice was like a deep bronze bell.

The wind picked up again, wrapping itself invisibly around Hercules' arms and legs, chilling the crevices of his body. He lifted his eyes to heaven again, where the sun seemed to pulse in confirmation that it had also heard.

*Then choke on it, damn you!* He grimaced and forced the entire length of his
cock into Ares' mouth and started fucking him, grunting harshly with each brutal stroke.

He didn't want to look at Ares' face, cheeks and lips flushed red, glowing, but it was Iphicles' face and he couldn't look away. Between his spread knees, the god's cock, framed in black fur, pointed like a spear at Hercules' heart and he saw the seed shoot up in silvery arcs and fall short of it's goal to spatter on his thighs.

He came at the touch. His knees buckling, he collapsed over the god's wet back and Ares caught him, rolling them both over onto the tiles. The god still sucking, and Hercules still thrusting, trying to penetrate, even as he was swept out of consciousness.

When it was over and he was aware again, the first sound he heard was a soft purling noise like a contented cat makes and a rhythmic tugging on his cock. Ares was washing him with his tongue. Hercules' hands were still entangled in the god's hair and this time he had the strength to shove him away. But when he managed to lever himself up on an elbow, Ares leaned back and impudently licked the last drops from his cock before looking up to ask, "Do I get that kiss now?"

He heaved to a sitting position and studied his brother for a moment, perplexed by his conflicting urges. But the look of smug satisfaction on Ares' face tipped the balance and he cocked his fist and gave the God of War two short, sharp jabs just as if he were knocking the cork from a wine keg. Blood spurted from the god's nose and Hercules leaned over and kissed him so fiercely that both of their faces were smeared when he had to draw back and breathe. "Had enough now?"

Ares was painted like a clown with his own blood and his chest was heaving as hard as Hercules' "Not hardly." His teeth were red as he grinned. "I still haven't caught the brass ring."

Hercules cocked his fist again.

"Hold on." Ares held up his hand pointing to the west where the blazing witness to
their tryst was finally driving his chariot home. "As much as I'd love to continue, we haven't got time. We're...."

He was interrupted by the blat of a trumpet being tuned. While they had been struggling on the terrace, the noise from the courtyard below had become louder and more urgent.

At the brassy sound, Hercules sat up straighter cursing both himself and the god. "What have you done?" The broader implications of Ares' impersonation had struck him - the treaty had to be ratified tonight. "If Iphicles isn't at the ceremony, Corinth and Athens will be at war before spring."

Ares showed his bloody smile again. "Normally, I would ask 'so what's the problem?' Hercules reacted and the god put up a hand. "This isn't about the damn treaty. Someone wants the king of Corinth dead - and it isn't me." Ares clambered to his feet, reached down, and hauled the demi-god up by one arm and didn't let go. The chill Hercules had felt when he was sick was nothing to the cold he felt now, except where Ares' hand gripped him. "I haven't done anything except save his life. There were two assassination attempts while you were sick."

"Don't even pretend you care."

"I'm not." The god's lips wrapped around the words and his eyes were black as Tartarus. "I just don't like being used."

"Where is he?"

"Well, that's the problem." Ares had been wiping his face with his other hand and was now studying the gore as though he'd never seen his own blood before. "I don't know." Hercules growled and the god shot him a look of unholy amusement and confessed. "I thought he'd be safer if I sent him somewhere else but he took off on his own. Sh-he's as stubborn as you are, you know."

Ares' oddly stumble-tongued observation, while entirely accurate and phrased in the present tense, was infuriating. Hercules shoved him away. "Where?

"The kitchens."

"Iphicles is in the kitchen?"

"No, that's where I sent him this morning."

Hercules could feel his nails cutting into the palms of his hands and Alcmene would have told him not to grind his teeth like that. "You sent the king of Corinth in his own kitchens and expected him to stay there?"

"I hoped he'd accept the force of my argument."

"And you have no idea where he went?"

"No." Ares heaved a put-upon sigh. "When he took off, you were leaking from every hole and I didn't want to attract attention to the fact that he was gone. I ordered Kazon to look for him but it's a case of the blonde leading the blond."

Hercules opened his mouth, got caught somewhere between humiliation and fury, and Ares finished before he could tell him exactly what he thought of bone-headed deities. "The last word from Kazon indicated that sh-he'd hooked up with Iolaus."

"Then he's safe." A tide of relief swept through him until Ares grabbed his hand and raised it. He could see the scars beside each other.

"No, she isn't! Wake up and read the dead sheep's liver, little brother! No Spartan assassin or Athenian spy should have been able to do this!"

The rage pouring off the god was heat from a furnace. His words spoke to every fear Hercules had ever had for Iphicles but he still had to ask - "Is it Hera?"

"No." The stinging cuff to his ear that accompanied the word was more reassuring than any elaborate denial could have been. "But you don't want to be in the sandals of whoever gave her baby boy a headache. Now pick up your sheet and come on, we've got work to do."

Ares turned to go back inside and Hercules followed.

"What did you mean, 'No, 'she' isn't'?"

* * *



Iphicles came to with his head in Iolaus's lap he could feel a hand stroking his hair. "Damn..." *all arrogant insatiable gods who can't keep their hands off of other people's brothers...* At least Hercules was recovering from the poison but.... He looked up and saw the hunter's worried face, opened his mouth - and settled for saying, "Herc's all right."

Iolaus looked confused and Iphicles didn't blame him. He tried to be reassuring. "I saw Herc, he's recovering from the poison."

"Then thank Zeus, he'll be able to help us." Iolaus breathed a sigh of relief. Then he laughed. "For a moment, I was afraid you were going to wake up and tell me you'd seen us having twins."

That stopped Iphicles. His hand shot out and he seized the hunter's wrist. "Where in Tartarus did you get an idea like that?" he demanded.

"Wha-?" The blond yelped and gulped like a fish. "Iphicles, lighten up, I was trying to make a joke!"

"Oh." He let go. *Oh. Yes. Iolaus was unconscious while Kazon was ranting about bastards on the throne of Corinth.* That took a minute to process. While he was doing it the look on Iolaus' face got very peculiar, and the hunter's hand sneaked back into Iphicles' hair. *Oh, Zeus!* He'd seen 'that' look on Ares' face. "I-I'm sorry, Iolaus, but it's 'not' funny."

"Uh-yeah. I guess. But, Iphicles...."

"...We have to talk." Iphicles finished with him and Iolaus had the grace to laugh. "I know, but now is not the time."

"You're right." Iolaus helped him sit on the bed and carefully wrapped the blanket around him.

"Get the water, Iolaus, I really need a bath now." Iolaus hesitated, clearly unhappy with the thought of leaving him alone and Iphicles snapped. "Iolaus, please! Kazon's dead and we have a party to crash."

It wasn't fair; Iolaus had taken just as much of the brunt of the fight with Kazon as he had but the hunter's solicitude was really getting up his nose. And when Iolaus danced on his toes before giving in to the inevitable and heading for the door, Iphicles wanted to scream. *What is it with men and babies?* He let his head drop into his hands. *Damn all the gods to Tartarus. Where's my mother when I need her?*

He 'knew' what it was with men and babies.

*We all think we squirt magic gism.* He remembered his cook's hopeful speculations. *So, okay it isn't just men - and why 'shouldn't' I be able to knock myself up? Everyone knows kings are more potent than ordinary men. And everyone knows Herc has a 12-inch dick and everyone knows Ares could impregnate a petrified gorgon.*

He watched a flea jump from the blanket to his leg where it preceded to punch a strand of red pearls into the skin of his knee. *Iph, you're letting this get to you!*

*I know I am* he yelled back at himself and deliberately squashed the flea. *But if this story ever gets out, there'll be songs in every marketplace in Greece making me the mother of twins - no, triplets, with Herc, Ares and Iolaus as the proud fathers.* He had a sudden picture of himself as a nursing mother with more breasts than Aphrodite Genetrix and had to laugh. Triplets? Hades! A 'million' potentialities were just dried smears between his thighs.

*Ah, Herc's safe* he reminded himself. Then he repeated it. *Herc's safe. Ares is more into the game he's playing, than he's interested in hurting him - for a change.*

*Yeah. Right. Let's hope he's not into bondage because he's obviously just as interested in Herc's ass as in the game he's playing and if Herc winds up knocking down the palace, we'll never hear the end of it.* It had been years before he'd understood that his brother's problems were equal to his strengths. *When I get my hands on that arrogant, sneaky, lying, two-timing, priaprismic, brother-fucking...*

Absently he scratched his fleabites as he cursed. Every part of him hurt. He stunk. *Where's Iolaus with the damn water?* A floorboard creaked. Someone was at the door, but it wasn't Iolaus.

Iphicles clenched his teeth. *Screw all Olympians, what else is going to go wrong today?*

He got ready to defend himself and then relaxed when he recognized Iolaus's brown-haired friend from down stairs.

"Bitch!" Nemetona screeched. "I knew he couldn't keep his hands off you!"

Of course, she had a knife.

* * *

The détente wasn't going well.

Ares was rooting around under Iphicles' desk searching through wine-soaked documents while Hercules stormed around the room looking for his clothes. If Iphicles was with Iolaus, he knew he could find them.

"It was a slip of the tongue." Ares' voice was muffled by solid walnut but Hercules didn't believe him anyway. He believed Iphicles was alive because no god could have sworn as Ares had and lied, but after a lifetime of finely honed antagonism, Hercules knew when the god of war was trying to pull a fast one. That curly head tipped down, the pirate brow flew up and the voice became - well, 'deeply and profoundly sincere' was one way to describe it and Ares had been oozing sincerity like a honeycomb ever since he'd been asked what he meant - and Ares didn't slip.

Parchment crackled.

"Got it!" Ares announced and popped up from under the desk with a scroll in his hand. He took in Hercules' agitated peregrinations and his expression changed to exasperated. "He'll be fine. Will you stop stomping around and come look at this?"

Hercules didn't want to come within arm's length of Ares. Not naked anyway. He'd put the sheet back on the bed and his body was still confused. Hypersensitive to the god's proximity it could betray him all too easily. He took another turn around the room for spite.

"Where're my things?"

Ares smiled. "They were disgusting. I had them burned."

"Oh, thanks a lot! What am I supposed to wear?"

"Why spoil perfection." Ares looked like he was having trouble controlling his mouth. "What you've got on suits you."

"Stop that!"

"You know you blush all the way down to your.."

He knew where he blushed all the way down to.and what was worse, under Ares' scrutiny it was swelling. "Iolaus has a friend at the Wriggling Dryad; they may have gone there."

"Forget it. How many in the Spartan delegation?"


"How many in the Spartan delegation?"

"Eight clerks, four diplomats and Ambassador Gordias - and, if it matters, he'll probably have that bitch of a wife with him."

Ares opened his eyes. "What you said! And here, I thought you 'liked' blondes."

Hercules ignored the innuendo. "She's too aggressive." He didn't elaborate and began to poke through the drawers of Iphicles' commode looking for something he could put on. He could feel Ares' eyes on his ass and was furiously aware that he was probably rose colored there too. "What are you doing?" he asked to distract himself.

"This is the order of ceremony, I need to know where the Spartans are going to be in relation to the throne."

"Gordias will be signing for Leonidas so the Spartans will be the nearest to Iphicles on the right."

"What about the Athenians?"

"Four, and opposite on the left so they don't get their noses out of joint. This was only supposed to be Iphicles' birthday and a trade summit - not formal negotiations." He stopped talking because he'd come across the blue shirt Alcmene had sent for Iphicles' birthday. "She followed him into my room the night before the boar hunt."

If that was a non sequitur to Ares, the god let it pass without comment.

Hercules picked the shirt up and brought it close to his face hoping to find a trace of his brother's scent in the fabric. He looked down and discovered a crown had been hidden beneath it.

It wasn't the state crown of Corinth but he recognized it and turned around in time to see Ares bend a little too quickly over the open scroll. "There's a crown in here," he said.

"I know." Ares grunted.

The god was dressed again in the black doeskin trousers, the suede stretched tightly over one jutting hip, and Hercules didn't want to be thinking 'nice ass.' He turned back to the drawer, reached in and picked up the crown. The gold was heavy in his hand but so delicately made that he could see the veins in each leaf. "It's King Agamemnon's. When he led the Greek states against Troy. This is on all the vase paintings."

Ares kept reading.

Hercules waited.

Ares finally turned around.

"Agamemnon's been dead for ten years; he doesn't need it. All right?" They glared at each other. "I told you not to scowl, your face will freeze that way."

"What's the crown of the Hellenes doing here?" The acorns on their fragile stems vibrated to his heartbeat.

"I tried to bribe Iphicles with it to kill you," Ares said.

"Oh." This was half-brother he knew and hated - manipulative and vicious. There'd been a time when he'd believed Iphicles capable have taking the bribe. He didn't have to stay and take this. "I'm going to get dressed and go find him."

"I told you to forget about it. Don't even try to leave one second before I say so, little brother. Whoever is trying to kill the king has to do it tonight and they'll be a lot more reckless if they don't know you're here." Ares indicated the crown. "If you want to get dressed, put that down, find some pants and start looking like a king."


Ares rapped on the side of his own head. "Think. One of us is going to have to take his place."

As if underlining the god's words, there was a respectful knock on the door and the chamberlain inquiring if his majesty would like a light snack before -- and sorry about the disturbance, your majesty, at Ares' bellow telling him where to go.

"You do it, you can pass for him," Hercules said bitterly.

"This has to be ratified by the king or his successor, and I'm 'not' the king of Corinth's heir. You are."


"Listen, Jercules, the safest place for the king of Corinth is anywhere but here - but 'someone' is still going to have to park his butt on a purple cushion tonight."

"Fuck you. I'm not doing it."

"Oh, grow up. Sitting there and letting someone use you for target practice isn't as romantic as boldly going around the countryside fighting monsters and righting wrongs, but..."

Ares' head was down and the eyebrow flying - but there was nothing sweet about what he was saying; it was beyond unfair. Hercules let his eyes travel down Ares' chest and stomach to where the god's cock swelled the soft suede. *In the middle of all this horror and confusion how was it possible...?* His hand clenched, and the leaves and tiny acorns twisted in his hand. He stared at it and the god's voice faded.

He heard his mother speaking to a four-year old as she took the small, furry thing from his hand. It's dead. You've got to be careful, honey, with everything you touch. You're so much stronger than anyone else is; you can hurt them too easily.

He'd found it dead and brought it to her to fix, but it was too complicated for a four-year old to explain and he was sick with shame that she thought he'd killed it. And beneath the shame was rage.

His fist clenched tighter and the twisted bits were compressed into a mass of nameless, shapeless metal in his hand.

"Stop that, or I'm going to have to hurt you," Ares said.

"You already have," he said, clenching tighter, staring at Ares, daring him to make him stop.

And something shifted within the atmosphere of the room. There was no wind but Hercules felt as though burning motes of sand were flying at him and stinging his skin. Ares' eyes had gone dark again, like oily pools, and whorls of blue-white energy twisted about him. Where his brother was standing, Hercules saw another figure coifed and garbed differently in black and gold and red. He strained to see the details but it was like staring into the sun again.

/ /You can see me now, can't you?/ /

He knew that voice and took a step toward it. It called to something deep inside him and lust was too small a word for the desire he felt. / /Yes,/ / he said.

Thrilled and terrified, there was a weight pushing his head down but he was on the verge of an orgasm so powerful that if he were to release, all his fears, his bounds and limits would disappear and he'd be free to run.

/ /Not yet, Little Brother. Let the crown go; our brother needs you./ /

All his fears, but all his certainties too.

He opened his hand and the weight of gold was taken from it. The ground began to steady under his feet and the figure to vanish but he managed to ask / /'The crown?'/ /

/ /Is Iphicles' fate./ /

He opened his mouth to protest, and the god overrode him...

/ /I'm sorry, we don't have choices. Hercules, could you live with yourself if something happened to him?/ /  He'd closed his eyes; he was so hard he was aching. Ares had come too near, even if he was keeping his hands to himself for a change, but.. . / /Could you ever/ / LOOK AT MY FACE again?"

He opened his eyes and glared at that all-wrong, too-beloved face. Apparently, he'd handed over the crown; it was dangling from Ares' forearm. but he couldn't admit that just having to sit still in a room with all of those fragile people would bring on an attack of claustrophobia. "Why didn't you leave me in the woods?"

He knew how ungrateful that sounded but he was trapped. One more word and he'd be spilling every fear he'd ever had of pain if Iphicles stopped loving him.

"You won't be taking his place; you'll be saving his life. No one else can do it."

"I can't."

"Yes, you can, Hercules. Look, nobody is going to know it's you." He looked up in surprise. Ares spread his hands, glowing with blue power, apart and said, "Trust me."

"Show me that he's alive."

Both of Ares' eyebrows flew up. "All right," he said. "I can do that."

* * *

"You fucked him, didn't you," Nemetona said.

Iphicles murmured something noncommittal and let his head fall back in pure bliss. He'd just had a hot bath, he was wrapped in a clean, fluffy towel and a beautiful naked woman was massaging his shoulders with clove-scented oil.

"I knew he couldn't keep his hands off of you," Nemetona was still speaking. "You're too beautiful."

She sounded Regretful but Resigned to The Perfidious Nature of Man as her fingers found a sore spot and worked on it gently.

Iphicles sighed. The best thing about women, he decided is they're not men; Nemetona's breasts were like pillows. This was way better than his mother. Screw all Olympians, he was going to stay here forever.

There'd been a few hairy moments when Nemie had first walked in. She'd really been steaming and, when Iolaus had come in right behind her, it wasn't clear which of them she meant to kill. Then Iphicles had stood up, she'd seen the bruises his body and jumped to the conclusion that Iolaus had raped him. By the time Iphicles had dumped the bucket over them both, she'd nearly gutted the hunter.

But after that, it had only taken a little fancy dancing to explain that it was Kazon who had assaulted Iphicles - and that for important reasons of state, charges couldn't be filed.

It wasn't a problem; Nemetona had gone completely gooey at the sight of Iolaus' heroic wounds and Kazon was a cheap tipper. Then united in victimized sisterhood with Iphicles, she'd offered to help 'Iphigenia' dress for the reception and swept him off leaving Iolaus to go and fill the bucket again.

Now they were exchanging secrets as though they'd known each other their entire lives and the barmaid's hands were working their way down his back.

"He's really good, isn't he?" This time Iphicles nodded and smiled. "Little guys are so energetic." Nemetona's hands came to rest at Iphicles' waist. "Look," she said. "I know they say it's not the meat, it's the motion, but...." Her breath was steamy in Iphicles' ear. "I know Hercules is your brother and everything, but haven't you ever...I mean, like...he's a demi-god - weren't you even curious?"

Iphicles giggled and held his hands out about 12 inches apart.

* * *

"You got the wrong room!" Hercules sniped.

"You said the Wriggling Dryad," Ares snapped.

It was definitely the Wriggling Dryad - it's best room in fact. But -

"That's not Iphicles and Iolaus," Hercules pointed out.

"Thank you, Aristotle, I never would have guessed."

Ares had made a scrying pool out of a basin and they were looking at a blonde and a brunette. The brunette, had, apparently, been giving her friend a back rub.

Then she straightened and Hercules recognized Iolaus's friend, Nemetona as she brushed her hair back from her face. Hercules said, "Ah." Maybe Iolaus was nearby.

Then Nemetona reached over the blonde's shoulders and began to play with her breasts and Ares said, "Whoa."

Hercules felt himself blushing and his nipples went tight and started tingling. And Nemie leaned further over, raised one of the blonde's teats and began to suck on it. "Oh, mama." He heard Ares start moaning as the blonde threw her head back.

Hercules took a deep breath and swallowed. She was beautiful and there was something awfully familiar about her...but he couldn't put a name to her. She was probably one of the whores who worked at the Dryad. Iolaus had probably screwed time or another... her hair was such an unusual shade that it would have been hard to forget, but..."You know her?" he asked his brother.

Ares didn't answer. The god's suede-covered thigh brushed Hercules' naked one and he said, "You know, there's something about two women together that really turns me on."

"Really." Hercules said. "I mean 'really?'" In the pool, the blonde had closed her eyes and was rolling her head in ecstatic pleasure. "Do you imagine they're putting on a show for you - and that then one of them is going to ride you while the other one sits on your face?"

Ares made a thoughtful noise, as though he were considering the idea. Then he sighed and said, "No. That's not it."

Nemetona kissed the other woman on the mouth. Then she walked around, knelt and began to lick her way down the blonde's belly with the point of her little pink tongue and Hercules found himself sucking on his lower lip. Again, Ares' thigh pressed against his. This time it stayed there, hard and powerful. He let himself lean on the god's strength. "Maybe it puts you in touch with your femininity," he mused.

Ares looked at him. "Definitely not." But he slipped an arm around Hercules' waist and pulled him closer.

Nemie's face disappeared between the blonde's legs. Whoever she was, she had perfect ripe lips and he could imagine her short breathy moans. Ares' hand started stroking his ass. In the pool, Nemetona lifted her head and said something to her friend and Hercules nudged his brother. "Can't you get sound on this thing?"

A finger was sliding between his cheeks and he had a sudden vision of himself on his knees, his mouth open and begging, his ass high in the air - Ares' hands gripping him, pumping, pumping inside him.

He asked - "Is it because, with two women, you can imagine sex that's free from the power games and ego-tripping that're inevitable between two men?"

A fingertip found his tight center and began to rub gently.

"Don't over think it, babe," Ares said. "It just turns me on."