When Hercules started the hike back to Corinth late on the day after Iphicles and Rena's wedding, he had the hangover from Tartarus as a companion.
He'd meant to leave immediately after the ceremony. But he'd stood up as Iphicles' best man and, as his brother spoke the vows, there had been so much pride and happiness in Iphicles' face that he couldn't help but remember his own wedding night and knew he'd have to stay and share the joy the morning after.
So he'd made the bridal toast also and had the satisfaction of seeing Iphicles blush bright red. He'd drunk wine and danced with every woman he could lure on the floor and, laughing, with a few of the men. There had been a moment when he'd slipped out for some air, his head was spinning and Iphicles had caught up with him, hugged him, and thanked him for being there. The memory warmed him as he walked. The rest of the night he had felt his brother's arms around him and tasted the wine that had been in his mouth when they'd kissed.
Then bridal couple had retired, seen to their room with torches and bells. The door had closed with Iphicles on one side with his new wife and himself on the other side alone. Then, the grief of Deinaria's death overwhelmed him again. Years could pass and it was like a lion's tooth in his heart. Still, with good company and with a few bottles of wine, you don't have to stay alone. The newlyweds had slept in and by the time they'd shown their bashful faces at the wedding breakfast, it had been a wedding lunch, but gods above, his head had pounded for the first few miles before he'd walked it off.
As he started down into the last valley that separated Phlagra from the borderlands of Thrace it began to rain. The clouds had been gray and lowering the entire time that he'd been travelling, but now the temperature dropped and the wind picked up sharply. He looked around, trying to gauge the dimensions of the storm and saw a tide of black clouds rolling swiftly out of the West and the light was fading. His hair about his face stinging his cheeks and fat drops started pelting his shoulders.
He sighed, braced his back and started walking again. Below him, the valley floor was grassland for a mile to the river and only just before that was the protection of the forest. There were a few solitary oaks standing in between, but the first crack of thunder reminded him what dangerous shelter one of those could be. The storm came on fast; the wind gusted, driving the rain so hard that it was difficult to see and his clothing compounded the awfulness of the situation.
Leather, even the softest, most supple, can chafe like armor if it gets wet enough. It didn't take long for the stiff creases of his pants to raise blisters on the back of his knees and the tops of his thighs. After the first mile, it was painful to walk quickly and impossible ignore the sheer physical misery he was in.
His warm feelings all dissolved, leaving him soaked to the skin and desolate again. Remembering how happy Iphicles had looked was as good an antidote for self-pity as he knew, but alone in a storm is about the most alone you can be.
Overhead lightning and thunder cracked with only seconds between flash and boom. The sound and fury were so concentrated around him that it felt entirely too personal when a bolt of blue fire arched out of the sky and split a tree not a hundred yards from him. For a moment, he stood stock-still, blind to everything except the stalk of the tree burning like a beacon in front of him.
Then realized he wasn't alone.
Wolf? Maybe not, but something inhuman crouched there in the blackest shadows. He couldn't make out its shape but amber moons glowing in the depths of its eyes reflected the rapidly dying fire.
He moved away slowly, and, as predator follows prey, it paced him. He had no staff to defend himself with and no friend to guard his back. But he had the strength in his arms that carried Cerberus up from Tartarus, and the trees, where he might find a weapon or make a stand, were close.
He began to lope, trying to move quickly but his feet slipped on the muddy grass and the cold, sodden weight of his clothing was a burden. Still he ran until one of the blisters at the top of his thigh burst with sudden searing pain and he stumbled and stopped. Hot, sweating, sucking lungfuls of air in his pain, he still hadn't reached the first copse of trees and what followed was so close he could hear its harsh breathing and the rush of its feet in the grass.
There were boulders, taller than he was to his right, and maybe there was shelter there. He turned, and a weight crashed onto his back knocking him to the ground.
Whatever it was that had knocked him down, together they rolled over and over so that sometimes the creature's body was beneath his, and sometimes on top. He tried to get a hold on it and realized that it owned strong hands too and was grappling with him. As he came up, lightning flashed and he looked down into a smug and laughing face.
Shock gave the other the opportunity to reverse their positions again, and Hercules found himself straddled by a naked, wet thing whose thighs gripped his flanks with bone splitting force. A wild animal that arched its back and lifted its face to the storm howling with laughter as thunder cracked overhead, drowning the sound.
"Ares!" As the noise died, he croaked the name. "Get the fuck off me."
The god rolled to the side, sprawled in the muddy grass with one leg atop Hercules' waist, still laughing like a loon.
Hercules shoved the leg off too, and sucked air. He closed his eyes not wanting to look, but he was aware when Ares leaned over him by the heat on his skin and the pong of male sweat, pungent in the rain-washed air. Something primitive, deep and hungry, inside him responded to the smell and his breathing slowed and deepened.
Shivering slightly, he kept his eyes shut, ignoring the fact that he was being investigated, until fingers began to push at the hair glued to his face. He slapped that away, opened his eyes. "Did you think that was funny?"
The question set Ares laughing again. "Yes, I never realized before how sexy you look all wet." The god reached to play with his hair again. Hercules tossed his head but didn't waste time trying to stop him; getting relief for his raw skin had become urgent.
When he began to unbuckle his belts Ares stopped his fiddling and, as he unlaced his pants, the god grinned delightedly. He sat up to undo his boots and, when they were off, struggled to his feet and stripped the leathers off completely. Ares backed away when he saw the red, raw sores and got up to stand beside him-although much more gracefully. "Why didn't you take them off when it started raining?"
Oddly, the last peal of thunder seemed to have been the signal that the worst of the storm was over. The trailing edge of the black cloud line was moving on and its passing left them in a brighter, silver light with the steadily falling rain rapidly cooling his overheated body.
"It's cold, in case you hadn't noticed," he said, resenting the arrogant way the god preened in front of him, clearly enjoying the weather.
Ares smiled and said, "Mud."
"What?" He felt stupid.
"By the rocks, put it on your sores."
Hercules limped over to the boulders. By their edges, where they were buried in the ground was a mess of fine, black mud. He scooped up a handful, spread it on his thighs and legs. The burning stopped, he sighed with relief and sat back against one of the boulders, trying to pull himself together. He cursed to himself that Ares had chosen this particular method to antagonize him on this particular day.
He looked at the god and thought that this was the first time he'd ever seen him naked. Wet as he was, Ares looked perfectly at ease. The long hair slicked against his skull flattened his head and accentuated his cheekbones. The fur on his chest and legs was spread out against his skin like black lace, rendering powerful muscles in high relief and the curls at his groin had stretched out and were decorated with little pendent jewels of water.
From the way Ares was smiling so broadly, Hercules suspected that, for his part, he looked as pathetic as he felt: hair probably plastered in rat tails around his face, skin pebbled with goose flesh, and what he'd exposed from the waist down dirty, shrunken and shivering. Ares' cock looked full and heavy.
"Did you cause that?" he asked, almost snarling, meaning the storm.
"No, but the sight of you all soaked and sulking was just too irresistible." Ares came close and Hercules could feel his heat again like a glowing furnace. This time he couldn't control the shiver that ran up his spine. Ares saw it and stepped even closer. "You can't expect me not to take of advantage of a good thing, can you?"
"What do you want, Ares." He was in no mood for his brother's games. There was no place to retreat gracefully. The god was pushing the boundaries of whatever both drew them and repelled them about each other and he hadn't the energy to wonder why.
"I told you. You're irresistible like this." Ares didn't wait for a response, he ran a hand slowly down Hercules' left shoulder as though he were solely fascinated by the way it slid on the demi-god's wet skin. The hand burned and Hercules trembled under the touch. He noticed the way the god's nostrils flared. The smell of musk was in his head again and he tilted his head back, feeling the rain dripping from nipples that were tight
with the cold. "Forget it."
Instead of backing off, Ares said, "No. Not this time." Hercules straightened and glared. "Didn't your mother ever let you play in the rain? Haven't you ever splashed in the mud and gotten dirty?" Ares pushed the shirts down off his shoulders and they bunched around his elbows. "Did you know rain is our grandfather, little brother? He's spilling his seed on our grandmother and it's soaking us."
There was only a breath of space between them. The god's lips were parted and Hercules could see a pink tongue behind his teeth. They were shockingly hot when they touched him.
Hercules jerked, opening his mouth to protest and fingers seized his jaw forcing him wider. A brazen tongue intruded over his and insisted on exploring every part of his mouth. His feet slipped in the mud and Ares caught him around the waist as he fell. The god bore down and rough stone gouged his buttocks. Although he braced his hands on Ares' shoulders and shoved him off, but the god wouldn't be moved. He only broke the kiss to nuzzle an ear. "Do you feel the mud squeezing between your toes?"
Ares' whisper was a soft breath against Hercules' cheek. He felt it-and the hardness poking his belly. In spite of himself, he groaned. Ares asked, "That's our grandmother's cunt welcoming him. Can you imagine how big they must be? Him up in the sky and her below-compared to you and me? Do you think we even exist for them?"
Ares moved back and he saw the haft of the god's cock protruding straight out from its nest of black curls. The god took one of Hercules' hands and placed the shaft on the palm. He folded Hercules' fingers around the shaft with his own over them and began to pump.
The rain pattered on Hercules chest and struck the skin of his inner arm. The cock was hard and heavy in his hand. He recognized the quivering hunger in it and Ares' body seemed like the only warmth in the world. His own need for connection was too powerful. Hercules closed his eyes and let his brother fuck his hand and when Ares pulled him away from the bolder and pushed him down in the grass, he didn't fight even though the grass was cold and there were stones hidden in it.
He didn't fight because Ares lay beside him, made a pillow of his arm for him to lean on and bent over, sheltering his face. He didn't fight when fingers, tangled roughly in his hair, turned and twisted his head to the god 's desire and the hot sinuous tongue poked into his mouth again and again. He opened for it and his lips were gnawed until they were swollen and tingling and he was groaning with need.
The god ignored the rest of Hercules' body until rain had pooled in its hollow. Then he drank from the recesses above Hercules' collarbones and sucked on the throbbing pulse in his neck. The licking and kissing became sucking and biting. Ares bent and stung his breast, marked his skin with dusky flowers and raised his nipples to blood flushed points. And as Ares mouthed him, Hercules knocked his head back and forth against the god's shoulder and arched, lifting his hips presenting his cock, but Ares ignored that too.
He could see the god's cock leaking pearly drops that fell the ground and, while one of his arms was trapped under Ares' body, the other wasn't. He reached for the shaft thinking to bring it together with his. Ares said, "Not yet."
A hand, playing between his legs, toyed possessively with his sac, encouraging him to lift his knees, and shamelessly he spread them as a finger teased the ring of muscle that closed his body. He pushed down, impaling himself on it, then curled up tightly against Ares' body to push it in deeper. He buried his face in the god's shoulder trying to loose himself against the warmth and rocked down on the finger until it found a place inside him that made his mind bubble and all thought dissolve in the pleasure.
The god leaned over him. Hercules arched his back. Ares arced over him and forced him back in the grass, the finger still working in his ass, sliding in and out. "Do you love me?"
Dark hair had fallen in tendrils around Ares' face like twining snakes and his lips were lush and swollen. He was so beautiful, it hurt to look at him. "Yes," he said, and thought you found me in the rain, my beautiful, hateful brother.
Did he actually speak the word or did Ares read the assent in his eyes. He didn't know, but the god's expression changed from urgency to irony and the finger was pulled from his ass. All of his nerves shrieked with the loss and he came hard, fountaining into the air and at the same time flooded with such shame at having been so easy to trick. He cried and didn't care how it sounded.
Laughing, Ares said, "Hush.' And lifted him.
He'd never been seized by anything so powerful before and it happened fast. Between one moment and the next, he was lifted up into the rain and tumbled, face down, into dry, musky softness.
He raised his head and found they were in a room with stone walls on a bed that was dressed with linen and the dense winter pelts of wolves and foxes. There was a candle burning, though there was more light than that one candle could supply. Ares was rolling beside him laughing at him and both of them were still dripping. He clenched his fist but the god grabbed it, twisted it behind his back, and then climbed on him, covering him and said, "Now I'm going to fuck you."
Doubly furious, Hercules tried to buck him off but got slammed down for the effort and his thighs forced apart. The fur was wet under him. He growled but that only seemed to amuse his brother further and when he tried bucking again, Ares let him get high enough off the bed to slip a hand between his legs. His balls rode in the palm and there were fingertips at the slit of his cock. He ground him self against it, trying desperately to come again. There was a filthy chuckle in his ear. "Not really pissed at me, are you."
Sharp teeth bit the nape of the neck; he yipped and tossed his head back, trying to crack Ares' skull, even though, when the hand let go of his balls, he cried with frustration as much as rage.
Then hands on his shoulders pushed his head down as Ares forced his legs further apart and he had to raise his ass again. The god's cock-head, blunt and hard, was put to his hole and breached him, stretching him painfully as it penetrated. He cried against the assault. Ares' breathing was harsh and ragged in his ears. The god's hands stayed poised to do damage if he didn't submit to the cock as it battered its way into his body. Finally, when it was sheathed to the hilt in his ass, he lay still and simply tired to endure
and discovered even that wasn't possible.
There were wet snakes of hair dripping on his shoulders, but with his brother's cheek pressed against the back of his head and the god's cock filling him there was no room for rage or loneliness. The pain went too, as the muscles that had cramped around the intruder in his ass relaxed and traitorously welcomed it. He couldn't help rolling his ass against Ares' hips, sighing.and finally, when Ares pushed his hair out of the way, turning
his face for the offered kiss.
It was so sweet he whimpered; his brother's lips were so soft on his. They seemed to peel away reluctantly, but he didn't mourn for long. Ares flexed and began to pump him in short jabs. Each thrust stroked that sweet place inside him, so he pushed back for more and Ares gripped his pelvis urging him up.
More trusting now, he let the god pull him to his knees. But he still held his breath every time he felt the shaft withdrawn to its tip and breathed out every time, Ares surged back. The god thrust in and out in slow, steady strokes. Hands caressed his sides with the rhythm and the god's voice whispered. "You're so beautiful. I've imagined you like this dressed in a collar set with amber and citrines. Tell me what you're feeling?"
Amber and citrines. Steady and powerful, each backward pull brought a frission of fear with it until the home stroke brought pleasure and completion.
He couldn't speak that truth. The thrusting stopped. He mewled for it, and Ares ordered, "Tell me what you feel."
"Your cock," he said, choking on the word.
A hand reached under him, found a nipple and tweaked it. He shook like a pony and was soothed with gentler fingers and a kiss on his nape. "Then tell me what you are."
He panted, and fought understanding the answer surging up inside him. A hand pulled one of his behind his back. The voice asked again. "What are you?"
He couldn't answer. A hand spanked his ass sharply on either side. He felt his balls tighten with the pain. His other hand was pulled back and he was bent face down in the fur. The cock pulled out almost to the tip. He tried to wiggle back on it but he was held immobile until his body was trembling and sweat was dripping down between his shoulder blades as if there hadn't been enough of water that day. Hands held him in the dark but he needed that shaft filling him and when the voice insisted again, "What are you?" He told the truth.
He told the truth and was rewarded with a sweet, agonizingly slow stroke. Soft curls tickled his heated buttocks, his senses overloaded and the muscles in his ass contacted. Ares bent over him and covered him, wrapped an arm around his waist and held him up as he poured himself on the fur. The cock thrust again and a wave of beautiful heat spread inside him pushing him into another series of contractions as Ares' weight fell on top him. They collapsed and rolled together in the furs, both of them crying hoarsely.
He dimly apprehended that Ares was speaking words-promising what? Lost in an ocean of sensation, Hercules couldn't collect himself. The voice was only the rumbling of distant thunder in his brain. He was too sweetly tired to listen, alive only to the softness of the lips moving on the back of his neck and a come-slick hand trying to tease him to new hardness even as Ares' cock was slipping from his body.
He hated that-and moaned at loosing it despite the petting. Hot seed was draining after it and the feel of the hot flow smearing his ass and thighs was so exquisite that his cock contracted again and he came, whimpering, into the hand that cupped him.
He was exhausted, willing to die where he'd fallen but Ares' tugged on him and made him roll over. As he turned, he looked up for the first time. There was a polished bronze mirror on the ceiling, softly distorting the image of himself in Ares' arms. He watched the god arc over him like the sky, covering him with furs and understood what Ares had promised him.