What Thunder Says To Lightening
'The strangest song I ever heard
Is what thunder says to lightning,
But I never could recall a single word.'
(Robert Hunter's Cruel White Water)
The troop rode in after sunset. The few citizens still about had to jump lively to avoid getting run down because the riders only slowed when they reached the forecourt yard beyond the portcullis. Runners had been sent ahead with the early news and guards in the Sovereign's livery came running. General Iphicles motioned that only his second-in-command dismount with him, the others to stay as they were.
The war-horses had been hard-used all day; they stamped and whickered, their breath steaming in the cold air. As the General's feet touched the ground, the leather bag hanging from his saddle nudged his big bay's shoulder and the exhausted horse started to dance.
His Captain grabbed the animal's bridle and held on to it, making soothing noises. "General," he said, "I don't think he likes the Sovereign's present."
"I think you're right," Iphicles agreed and unhooked the bag from the saddle-horn. He patted the stallion's flank and he took to the air again. Around them, men laughed. Iphicles could even see a bloody, gap-toothed smile in his captain's sweat-blacked face.
"Wait for the baggage train, Pericles, and have the prisoners unloaded first." Pericles' broken smile flashed again. "Then see to the wounded and tend the horses. The Sovereign will distribute spoils at his leisure so you may as well dismiss the men." He held up the bag and he and his captain exchanged smiles again. "I expect he'll be generous. "
Pericles saluted, and the General turned away knowing his orders would be followed. He started climbing the palace steps and thick drops fell from the bag to discolor the pale stone.
Inside, the celebration had been in progress for a while: servants were hustling about with trays and jugs and the music of flutes and drums was coming from the great hall. He passed a few casualties of the grape unconscious on benches. Falafel, the Sovereign's castellan was in an alcove browbeating some poor lackey and the servant went whiter as he caught sight of Iphicles. Falafel, turning to see what could be more frightening to anyone than he, found the only man permitted arms in the Sovereign's presence. It was fascinating to watch how quickly Falafel could turn a cringe into an unctuous bow.
Much as Iphicles loathed the slimy brown-noser, the way Falafel then hurried and slithered past him (without ever being so crude as to shove the Sovereign's General out of the way) was sourly entertaining. All that slithering so that Falafel could be the one to stand in the doorway and have the honor of announcing, "General Iphicles, our most gracious Sovereign's War Lord, has returned victorious!"
The ringing tones pierced the celebratory noise in the smoky hall. Silence spread from him like a retreating wave. It swelled again as conversations resumed with an anxious anticipatory edge to them and Iphicles noticed, as he walked the narrow aisle toward the dais, the way some of the courtiers avoided looking at him while others stared hard as they bowed.
The merchant, Salmoneus, was most likely assaying the garnet-inlaid hilt of the General's sword and calculating the cost of the ruined black leather that covered his thighs even as he kow-towed. Cupidity conflicted with curiosity as the little rodent's eyes slid speculatively to the bag Iphicles carried and back to the sword. Salmoneus had probably totaled up the rumored value of all his estates a long time ago and, like most of them, hoped *this is the day, we'll finally see the General's charm undone. All of the others are dead; maybe tonight our mad, bad king will finally finish off the last mortal witness to his divine bastardy.*
Iphicles doubted if there was one man in the herd who'd bet his balls on the chance though. They cleared out of his path and at the far end of the hall; he could see their lord and his brother, the Sovereign, demigod and absolute tyrant of the entire Greek peninsula, slouched on a high-backed throne that would've dwarfed any other man.
The room was overheated from the fire and packed bodies and, from the waist up, the Sovereign was naked. At some point in the festivities, he'd removed the studded leather harness he usually wore and the powerful muscles of his broad shoulders and chest gleamed with sweat. His tawny hair, shaggy as a mane, looked as if he'd hacked it off with a knife yesterday. A dark-haired woman sprawled across his lap. Iphicles recognized her and felt his guts
twisting even as his cock stirred. *Xena!* The syllables of her name tasted so foul he could have spit them out. *At least this dog and pony show isn't entirely for my benefit.*
Red scratches laced the demigod's throat and chest while the flesh around his nipples was rosy and swollen. One big hand was working under Xena's skirt and the Sovereign's eyes were half-closed in glutted content. *Little brother,* Iphicles thought, *you're completely shameless.*
Maybe the Sovereign sensed his exasperation, because he glanced up just as Iphicles approached and read his expression. Hot fire flashed between them before those shockingly pale eyes were hooded again. The wide mouth, incongruously gentle in its frame of honey-gold whiskers, stretched into something that might have been a smile and he dumped Xena, who was aroused but clearly not yet unsatisfied, on the floor.
"Get lost, dear, since my General has chosen to grace us with his presence for a change," the Sovereign said. "Don't you think I should give him my full attention?"
Seething, Xena picked her bruised ass off the floor and, like everyone else present, laughed as though what had just happened were a huge joke. At the same time, she shot a look composed of pure malice at Iphicles. He let her see just how amusing he found the whole performance, knowing what would piss her off the most, and made a note not to drink from any bottles he didn't open himself tonight.
The Sovereign, stretching his long body like a cat meanwhile, smiled languorously at Iphicles, not even pretending to care when Xena stomped off. He lifted the hand that had been under her skirt with the middle finger raised. His eyes swept the room to make sure everyone was watching as he deliberately sucked it into his mouth.
There seemed to be a universal catch as people held their breath. The demigod's head fell back, his eyes closed in pleasure and he slowly drew it in and out. And when he paused, with his lips slightly parted and the glossy finger resting on the full lower one, he looked like a child that had fallen asleep at the teat.
Heat welled, focused on the demigod on the throne and Iphicles below it. He could smell the attar of lust in the air, percolating through the incense, and heavy perfumes making the rank, horsy smell of his own body seem fresh. Anyone's blood on the stones could bring them off but, to these weaklings, his would be the most satisfying.
The Sovereign's tongue flicked out and just touched the tip of his finger before he spoke. "You were supposed to be here at noon. You missed my party."
The tone was a tired sulky child's, and Iphicles' cock throbbed. He could feel the anticipation behind him spike and knew they were thinking that *it's exactly like the Sovereign to humiliate the man at the moment of his greatest triumph.*
The Sovereign's eyebrow twitched and the corner of his mouth quirked just slightly. *Brat,* Iphicles thought, *you're really going to pump this, aren't you.*
He fell to his knees in an attitude of supplication and held up the bag. "Maybe this will make up for your disappointment," he offered.
His brother's eyes flew open. "You brought me a gift!"
"I picked out a special decoration for your gate," Iphicles said. He opened the bag and lifted out a human head by its cropped and matted hair. Behind him, he heard the collective breath of the crowd expelled. "We caught up with him at the river. He came thinking the Spartans were going to help him escape, but we were waiting for him."
Iphicles stood up and climbed the two steps of the dais, delivering the grisly object into his brother's hands. The Sovereign stared at it, his blue eyes wide as a child's who can't quite believe he's asked for and received his heart's desire. Both of them were oblivious to the clotted blood between their overlapped fingers.
"When the train gets here with the prisoners," Iphicles said, "you can have Pompey's for a matched set."
His brother looked up at him. "Iph, you'll spoil me."
Iphicles tensed. His body was between his brother and the crowd, but a touch at that point wasn't appropriate, so he had to settle for asking, "I hope so. Now what's going on, Babe?"
"Stay by me, keep your eye on Agaros and we'll finish this tonight." At that moment, the child was gone; his brother's voice was flat and cold as he indicated the left-hand side the throne. Then in a blink, the innocent was back, looking shy and whispering, "I was very bad while you were gone."
A cold shiver that originated deep in his ass ran down the back of Iphicles' legs and left him trembling slightly. "I know," he said just as softly. "We'll talk about it later." Turning, he stepped aside.
The Sovereign surged to his feet, holding up the head, and shouting for the crowd to, "Look, General Iphicles has brought me the head of Corinth's greatest enemy." He held it at the fullest extension of his long arms, making sure the entire gathering had a good long opportunity to stare.
Iphicles noted how few looked away. Shown blood at last, the crowd broke into wild cheers and the celebration had its climax.
"Iolaus," the Sovereign called, looking around eagerly. "Where's my funny little friend?" Iolaus, officially his brother's jester, was found and prodded through the crowd. Given his unofficial position as the Sovereign's bed warmer, Iolaus was one man, at least, who would be glad the General was home--if only to provide Xena with another target.
"Bring wine--the General's thirsty," his brother said, and tossed the head to the jester.
Iolaus trapped, as ever between revulsion and the desire to live, juggled the slippery thing, wailing 'Ai, Ai!' When he'd finally secured it, the little man stared in shock at the once handsome features of Julius Caesar, now frozen in a rictus of terror that was perfectly reflected by his own, and the crowd laughed.
The Sovereign returned to the throne, wiping his hands on his leathers. The room settled to watch the little clown perform and a waiter came and presented Iphicles a cup of the rich dark Arcadian wine and, although he took it, he didn't drink from it.
Understanding perfectly what was required, Iolaus came to terms with it quickly. He held the head out in his left hand, showing the crimson palm of his right and, speaking as though to Caesar, he cheated to the audience and said, "Well, Julius, this ruddiness will be a rare sauce to your sweet wit." And, in an aside, "The truth is, I've never seen a bugger who looked so fresh. It seems someone put a sharper prick in his quiver dead than he ever had the use of when he was alive."
The crowd, catching on, laughed as Iolaus made a string of clever, obscene puns at the expense of the late Caesar's sexual predilections. And less obviously, Iphicles noted wryly, at Iphicles'. Too clever: the little blond was going to joke himself into an early grave if he wasn't careful. The Sovereign twisted in his seat, threw a leg over the right armrest, and snickered along with the courtiers.
There was a heavily chased gold goblet on the floor that he carelessly scooped up and began to wipe across his chest. The moisture condensed on the metal must've felt good on his heated skin and it made the tiny erect nipples look like jewels in their nests of brown curls. Standing beside him, Iphicles could see the warm flush beneath tan skin and how the long-fingered hand curled lightly around the rim. That hand could have crushed the goblet as easily as a child could crumple a piece of paper. Three quarters of the people in this room would have lain as compliantly as Xena across his lap, drawn by the potency of that body as much as by their fear of its power.
Every time Iolaus made a joke with Caesar's head, the Sovereign laughed. His cheek was so close to Iphicles' arm that he could feel his brother's living warmth.
"Did you fuck him?" the Sovereign asked.
"I don't fuck your pets, Babe," Iphicles said, and an impatient head bumped his arm.
"Liar," his brother snorted. "Anyway, I meant Caesar."
Iphicles bent low. "Before I cut him up. We all took a turn," he said. "Ten of us. The Roman cunt died full of Greek spume."
The hand holding the cup jerked; wine splattered the Sovereign's stomach before he turned his head to show Iphicles the sleepy half-lidded eyes that went with his brother's sweetest smile. They knew each other enough to agree without words. Iolaus was still carrying on but the jokes were getting more crude and desperate. When the Sovereign lurched to his feet and interrupted him, the jester sagged in relief.
"My friends," the Sovereign lifted his arms like a conductor, "I can't thank you enough for being here to celebrate the General's victory with me." He made circles with his fingers and the crowd cheered until he made cutting motions. "But we're tired and you've eaten all the snacks. Go home. I'm sick of the sight of you."
He signaled Falafel saying, "Food in my room." Falafel vanished. And taking Caesar's head from Iolaus to cradle in the crook of his arm, the Sovereign stepped down from the dais with Iphicles following.
No one was going to make a rush for the doors while they were still in the hall; in fact people swarmed closer to offer congratulations, proffer gifts or just try to touch the demigod. A few women slipped Iphicles notes. He took them; occasionally there was useful information in them but he knew from experience that most of them would be bribes for access to his brother. Among the men, pressing closest was Lord Agaros, and the Sovereign paused to ask the man curiously, "Didn't I have you killed last week?"
There was silence in the immediate vicinity; a few laughed nervously.
"Wha--why would you say a thing like that, Sire?" Agaros laughed too, but looking about at the people edging away from him.
"Because you've been spying for the Spartans," the Sovereign said. There were groans as though some had overeaten. "Because I heard it was you who arranged Caesar's escape across the isthmus." People collided with each other as they tried to back away. "Or because you've carried a weapon into my presence." Agaros was alone in a circle. The demigod smiled, shrugged and said, "Take your pick."
"Mercy, sire," Agaros begged.
The Sovereign smiled wider and spread his arms, as though he were about to welcome Agaros in his embrace. "No."
With the expression of a man who knows he's already dead, Agaros drew a dagger and flung himself at the demigod, who simply took him by the throat and lifted him off the floor to dangle. Agoras choked, sucking air, then looked down: Iphicles' sword was stuck low in his gut.
"Mercy, Agaros?" the Sovereign inquired. "Want me to set you down and let you go home?"
Agaros was brave: he knew there was no return to the question and didn't try to answer. Iphicles' arm rested on his brother's hip from the pull-back of the thrust. He spread his hand and, tapping the studded codpiece his brother wore, whispered, "I'm tired, Herc." Cartilage snapped and bone cracked. Agaros had mercy.
A fire had been kindled in the Sovereign's bedroom when they got there and candles burned in all the sconces. Felafel must have run like the wind because there was an iced flagon, goblets, and platters of meat. Iphicles had snagged a ewer with its wax seal still in place; he set that on the table too and began shucking his sword-belt and armor.
His brother threw himself on his back across the bed. He had one knee bent and Caesar's head was at arm's length as he pulled on the jaw to make the mouth work. "It would be a waste to leave him rotting on the gate," he said, sighing luxuriously. "Can I have him tanned?"
Iphicles was amused watching him play. "What will you do with him them?"
His brother peeked slyly from under his eyelids, making sure he had Iphicles' attention, then held the head to his crotch and pumped his hips. "I'll have them prepare Pompey's for you," he promised.
Iphicles laughed. "Put that thing down and come help me with this."
His brother frowned as he set the head on the nightstand but he got up and Iphicles turned to let him undo the lacing of the leather cuirass. Wwhen it was open, he pulled it off and let it drop to the floor. He needed help pulling the under shirt over his head. As it came off, he heard a sharp intake of breath and warm hands stroked his ribs, rubbing the black bruises there before slipping around his waist. He leaned back against the broad chest and let himself rest against his brother's strength.
"You should've brought him to me alive and let me rip him apart," Hercules said.
A warm mouth nipped his shoulder and nuzzled under Iphicles' ear. He could feel studs through the seat of his leathers; the muscles in his ass throbbed as his brother's hips rolled against his ass. Iphicles' cock swelled but he caught his breath, shook the hands off and went to the table. "It was a hard campaign. My men needed the release." He helped himself to a chicken leg, poured some wine and concentrated on eating where he stood, not looking at his younger brother.
"You're mad at me," Hercules finally said.
"Brilliant!" Iphicles set the chicken leg down and turned on him. "Stop encouraging Xena."
"Iphicles, we agreed."
"Gods in Olympus, Herc." A particular emotion shaded his brother's eyes as Iphicles said his name. "She squeals like a pig when she's mounted. How can you stand it? I know why you're doing it but she'll think she can talk you into marriage. It's the way her tiny mind works." He shook his head.
"I'll have her executed," the Sovereign offered. That was a promise and they both knew it.
"No." Now that he'd said it, it seemed ridiculous. "You're right. We agreed: not until we find out where she keeps it." Iphicles looked into his goblet, took a drink and spat it on the floor. "The bitch never learns and she keeps trying to poison me." He dumped the rest of the wine back into the flagon and refilled it from the ewer that he'd brought. "But as long as she keeps doing the same damn thing over and over, I couldn't be safer."
"Then someday I'll have her executed for being stupid," Hercules said and they grinned at each other in complete understanding. Then the demigod looked down hiding his eyes from Iphicles. "I need you here," he said.
Iphicles cock was still hard in his leathers; he began to loosen his belt. "Do you?"
"Yes. I was bad."
Iphicles pulled the belt through its loops and doubled it over in one hand. There was a heavy chair with a broad seat beside the table; he sat in it and stretched out his legs, not speaking again until Hercules looked up blinking rapidly, his lower lip trembling. Iphicles stretched his body further out. He smiled and pointed with the belt to the floor between his legs. "Show me," he said.
The Sovereign fell on all fours and closed the distance between them. He threw himself between Iphicles' knees and buried his face, butting and mewling at his brother's crotch.
Iphicles threaded his hand through the long hair, gripped hard and jerked his head up. "Hush, now. Good babies don't cry." He used the looped tip of the belt to wipe away the few tears and slowly rubbed it across Hercules' lip.
"Hercules is a good baby?" his brother asked.
"Hercules is a very good baby," Iphicles said, bent and kissed him. Then he let go, cuffed the tawny head lightly and stroked his hand down the powerful neck to tweak a nipple. "Take your clothes off," he ordered.
He unlaced his own pants, pouring more wine, and watched Hercules undress at his feet. Every few moments Herc would look up from unlacing boots and slithering out of leathers as though making sure he were still there. Iphicles' cock stood up, furiously hard, and occasionally he caressed himself, watching the muscles play under the younger man's skin. When his brother was naked and kneeling, Iphicles hugged him close, raking his hands up and down the broad back, and let the soft fur tickle his cock as he flexed up against him.
He used a hand to guide his brother where he was needed and when Hercules began to suck, Iphicles remembered...
* * *
They had to get the beans picked. He had figured out that if Herc went ahead, getting the low ones, and he followed, getting the ones Herc missed or couldn't reach, they could get the whole row done clean and fast. His uncle, Electryon, wouldn't be able to bitch about sloppy work and lazy, ungrateful whore's bastards.
And it was working--he was proud of himself even if Herc was scowling at him. It wasn't that Herc was weak or lazy, he was scarily strong for such a small child. But if they had to pick beans he wanted to pick his own row just like Iphicles. But he was just a little kid, and he'd been sick with the runs for two days now, so Iphicles had smacked him 'til he'd gone along with the plan.
"Where'd crazy Zeus' whore go, Iph?" A jeering voice broke into his pride and a stone punched a spray of dirt up from the ground ahead of him. The stone wasn't aimed at him, as the words were, but at his seven-year old brother pulling pods off the vines just ahead of him. He could see Herc's face, pinched and white under its tan as he crouched between the bean plants, glaring at the stone thrower.
"Yeah, well your father sucks donkey dicks, Linus!" He would have liked to black Linus' eyes. He would have liked to black the eyes of all those other kids who jeered as they went by on their way to school in the village. But if he threw a stone or fought, his aunt would hear about it and there'd be no dinner for either of them. Eating raw beans from the field would make Herc sick again, so he confined himself to shouting and showing a thumb between his two fingers.
Linus threw another rock before he went on his way, but he missed by a mile.
"Why'd he say that, Iph?" Herc asked. Herc had been too young to notice what people said before, but lately he had started asking questions like that and it made Iphicles mad.
"Shut up!" Iphicles yelled at him. "He's a stupid cunt and so are you." And, of course, Herc got mad and ripped one of the bean plants up.
"Stop that, you baby!" Somebody would see it, so Iphicles dragged his basket over to where his brother was standing. "What'd you do that for?" He grabbed Hercules by the shoulders, shook him and, of course, the little jerk started to bawl so Iphicles pushed him down in the dirt. At eleven, Iphicles was getting big enough to do a man's work in the field but it was getting harder to control his little brother. "Shut up or I 'll go away and leave you here forever," he said. And he meant it.
Herc looked up at him, shocked out of crying but the brief tears had left streaks in the dirt on his face.
Iphicles knelt and tried to wipe them away with the hem of his tunic. "Why do you do that? I told you don't do that. I told you, when our father comes home, he'll make it all right." As he wiped he whispered to himself, *'he'll make them pay, you'll see. He'll make them all pay.'*
It was too late: Electryon had noticed that they weren't working. He came over to see why and spotted the damaged plant. His uncle hauled Iphicles up by an arm and pushed him toward the half-filled basket. "Get back to work." Then he reached for Herc saying, "I warned you." Herc bit him. "Bastard!" their uncle yelped. With no more effort than a child would pick up a doll, Electryon picked Herc up and began to slap him hard. Furious, Iphicles threw himself on his uncle, hitting and screaming "Mine!" Nobody had the right to hit his brother but Iphicles.
Electryon just turned and backhanded him, and then they both got a whipping. And were sent to sleep in the hayloft with no supper, because someone did tell his aunt what he'd said to Linus.
Well the hayloft was fine by Iphicles. For once, there were more welts on his rump than Herc's--Electryon had used a crop and it still felt hot, so this was lots better than sharing a cot with a cousin who snored and wouldn' t keep his hands and knees to himself.
In the house they wouldn't let him sleep with Herc, because Herc was such a baby that he couldn't be counted on to stay dry all night. So Herc had to sleep on a smelly pallet on the floor. In the morning, there would be his aunt to tell Iphicles what a dirty animal Herc was and make him wipe it up. It never happened when Herc slept with Iphicles, but his aunt wouldn't listen when he tried to tell her that; she just got angry and said Herc couldn't have any food until he learned better. Sometimes he just hated Herc.
Iphicles was hungry and he knew Herc was too, and he was actually proud that his brother hadn't said anything or cried about it. They'd gone down to the river where he'd washed himself and given Herc a bath, and now his brother was snuggled up against him with his head on Iphicles' shoulder. Iphicles rubbed his nose in the baby soft hair: all clean. He liked the little boy smell of him.
"What's a mongrel?" Herc asked.
"Nothing," Iphicles said. He was tired of finding answers for that question--mongrel, bastard, cur, and lying whore's. . .
"What's our father like?" Herc asked out of the blue.
Iphicles tried to remember. He's big," he said. "And he laughs a lot." That was true. "He used to let me stand on his hands. He's strong." That was true too and Iphicles shivered. "And he's brave, he's a soldier and when he comes home from the war, he'll make everything all right." Iphicles hoped that was true.
"Will Mommy come home too?" Herc interrupted him.
"No," Iphicles said.
He didn't remember much that his mother had said the night she'd left them for the last time. Herc had been weaned for a few fretful weeks but she'd been letting him nurse that night, and Iphicles remembered her saying, 'I'm giving him to you to take care of, Iphicles.' Hercules had been a three-year old then, with solemn blue eyes, who was always trying to follow him around. Iphicles hated him, because Herc was the reason people called him and his
It was no way as good as a puppy; he had looked at her sort of angry because it wasn't fair. But no one had ever given Iphicles anything for his own before so it felt good, too, in a funny way. His mother had put her arm around his shoulder and drawn him to her other breast instead of shoving him away, as she used to do when he tried to nurse also. She just kissed the top of his head and said, "I can't do it anymore and you're my big boy.'
And he'd taken care of Herc, alone in the house for weeks, before people noticed that his mother wasn't coming back and then somebody told his aunt and there was talk. His uncle finally came and got them, and said he'd keep them at the farm. But he'd told Iphicles they had to earn it because their father hadn't sent any money. When the war was over Amphitryon would come home and decide what to do about them.
"What's 'whore,' Iph?" Hercules asked, beside him where they snuggled naked in the hay.
"A woman who spreads for anyone," he said. Something fluttered in his stomach when he said that. "Go to sleep."
"What's spread, Iph?" Hercules asked.
Now he knew Herc was teasing him. His brother didn't talk much, except when they were alone and he got going. Iphicles sighed. "She lies on her back and you stick your pizzle in her and move it around. Like the goats do. You've seen it. Like Uncle Electryon does on our aunt."
Herc giggled. The loft was bright with moonlight and he was playing with himself.
He remembered washing Herc in the river, looking at Herc's little balls neatly tucked up in their pleated sac. His own were dropping now. When he'd washed his brother's, Herc's little pizzle had stood straight out from his skinny body the way it was now. Now, with Herc snuggling closer, he could feel it nudging his side, and Herc was still giggling because Iphicles' pizzle had gotten big and was standing straight up too. Herc reached for it. There were feathers in Iphicles' stomach and he didn't stop him.
Just lately he had found dark hairs sprouting at his crotch and under his arms and he was proud of that but at the same time his pizzle seemed to be a thing completely apart from him now; it had grown bigger and stuck up almost any time. His girl cousins were always peeking at him and sniggering behind their hands. And it was like he was always hungry for something that he didn't know how to find. He groaned as his brother's small hand touched and
fondled him. What Herc was doing felt so good he almost forgot to breathe. And he didn't stop Herc from climbing on top and straddling him.
Herc grabbed his pizzle, pulled it down; he rubbed the tip of his littler one against it, trying to mate their holes, and they both laughed at that. Then Herc pushed his hips back and forth, bouncing and rubbing his little bottom on the top of Iphicles' thighs, imitating the goats. Iphicles suddenly grabbed him, pulled him down on top, and pushed back. He could feel the warm skin of Herc's belly against his pizzle, and he could hear his own gasping breath. He didn't know what happening and he was terrified because something seemed to be breaking loose inside of him. There was hot, wet stuff coming out of his pizzle. Maybe all of his blood was coming out. Herc was squirming against him, crying and Iphicles was afraid that he was dying.
Herc squirmed harder, yelling for him to let go. He collapsed and let go and Herc sat up and they could both see that it was white stuff that'd squirted out. He was panting and Herc was staring. "What's that?" his brother said, sounding scared.
But Iphicles recognized what it was. "It's okay, Herc, it's milk. You can drink it," he said. Herc looked at him like he was nuts, but he bent and lapped at the dripping tip and along the sides. Iphicles leaned up on his elbows and watched him.
"It tastes funny," Herc said, but he kept lapping until he'd got all the stuff he could.
Iphicles' pizzle was still hard. "There's more," he said. "Suck on it, Herc." Herc's little mouth closed over it and he sucked it like a baby goat would. It was the most beautiful thing Iphicles had ever felt, and when that thing happened the second time, Herc lapped that up too.
* * *
With his hands on either side of Hercules' head to hold him still, Iphicles fucked his brother's mouth. Bigger and thicker now than then, his cock slid easily between his brother's lips. Herc's eyes were closed in ecstasy and he was sucking hard. Iphicles looked at his bastard brother's beautiful face, remembering how sweet that first time had been.
Remembering, he came, and as he did, he pulled his cock from Hercules' mouth, ignoring the heartbroken cry of loss and the searching mouth. Instead, he smeared the spurting milk over his brother's cheeks and eyelids until they were dripping with it.
When he let go, Hercules sat back on his heels and glared at him and Iphicles smiled at the furious, sulky face dripping with come. He wiped some of it off, let Herc nuzzle hungrily into his hand so the soft whiskers tickled his palm. Hercules whimpered.
Iphicles roamed front of his brother's body, pinching the tender nipples and stroking the hard abdominal muscles. It was thrilling to feel how much power was reined in under his hand. Briefly, he made a tunnel for Hercules' cock, the rigid solidity of it filled his hand. His own cock gave another little spurt. He probed lower. Herc spread his thighs to help him find the eggs, firm in their soft velvet sack. He rolled them between his fingers and his brother pushed his hips up toward him; Iphicles leaned over and inhaled the rich complicated musk of his brother's sex. Then he slid his hand around to the hard ass, rubbing it and then tugging. "Come here," he said.
He pulled Hercules across his lap and stroked the length of his back reaching down between his brother's ass cheeks and running a finger around the tightly puckered ring of muscle, feeling the soft pulsing beneath the skin. He reached down and found the belt he had dropped by the chair. "Where you very, very bad?" Iphicles asked, lifting his arm. Hercules nodded. Good Iphicles thought bringing his arm down.
"Hercules is a good baby," he said lifting his arm up again, "but somebody said he was very bad while I was away. He needs to be punished. Then he can have some milk."
* * *
The rest of that summer had been wonderful despite the fieldwork. They had a secret that Iphicles thought must have been a gift from a god. It had made him proud to know how well he could take care of his brother. When it was warm they slept in the hayloft. Herc drank the milk from his cock and Iphicles played with him until the little boy fell asleep in his arms.
He grew taller, although his aunt bitched about that and the clothes, while his bones ached sometimes. The hair on his crotch and belly got thick and curly and his pizzle got heavy. He started to call it a cock like men do. Herc grew a little too and stopped wetting the bed even when they had to sleep inside.
Late one morning when he was hoeing the mounds of the bean plants, his cousin ran by calling 'Iph, Iph, Amphitryon's home!'
Herc was nearby pulling weeds; Iphicles dropped his hoe and ran to him. "C'mon, Father's home! Everything's going to be all right now." Iphicles hoisted his brother up on his back and started to run toward the house, Herc almost strangling him with excitement. "Everything's going to be all right," he panted. *Everything's going to be all right. * He couldn't doubt that, but he slowed down as he got close to the house because there were horses there and a strangely familiar man standing on the porch talking to his uncle. He let Herc slip to the ground and took him by the hand.
No matter what he'd told Herc, he'd only been small the last time he'd seen his father and he remembered a man who could toss him up to the sky and, laughing, catch him in his huge hands. This man was big, but it was more like he was heavy and broad shouldered rather than tall the way Iphicles remembered. He was wearing a stained linen corslet over his tunic and greaves molded to look like leg muscles. The dark eyes, thick black brows, and curled beard looked familiar though, even if they were shot through with gray. And so was the mouth with the old scar that went down the corner. He was looking Iphicles up and down as the boys approached.
"Iphicles?" the man said, "you're almost grown. C'mere, boy, and give your father a kiss."
Iphicles stepped foreword and clasped the brawny forearm offered him. As he kissed the whiskered cheek, his stomach started to churn. Amphitryon smelled like sour wood smoke. And Iphicles said, "Welcome home, Father." And because no one else had said anything, he held Herc's hand up. "Here's Herc. He doesn't remember you at all."
"Hercules, uh?" His father glanced at Herc but he turned and spoke to Electryon. "Must have been Alcmene's idea of a joke; she always was musical. I sent her word when it was born to have it exposed."
Herc slipped behind Iphicles and held onto his leg.
"I remember," their uncle said, "but she hiked all the way to Corinth to make an offering, and the Priest said the gods forbade it. You'd almost believe her; look at the size of the little cur's hands and feet."
"I should've beat the shit out her more often," Amphitryon said. "Focus's a woman's brain and gives her something to think about other than getting screwed."
"Yeah, well, Menippus will probably take him when he gets back from Corinth," Electryon said. Menippus was the blacksmith in the village. "He's offered. I almost took him up on it a couple of times; we could've used the money for the damage he's done."
"That's my money," Amphitryon said. "He may be a god's get but if he's my wife's bastard, it's mine."
Electryon laughed uneasily. "Come on in and have a drink, brother; it's been seven years and Cassia's fixing a feast. I sent word to the old club, they'll all come." He looked at Iphicles. "You boys go help your aunt. Iphicles, get your stuff together; your father's taking you home tomorrow."
Iphicles released the breath he didn't know he'd been holding: they were going home, his father couldn't mean. . . *Menippus had beaten his last slave to death. No one in their right mind would sell him another kid.*
The men went in the house and Herc looked up at him. "He doesn't like me."
"Don't be a baby. He's just not used to us," Iphicles said. Feeling the old resentment at Herc for saying stupid things, he gave him a shove. "He's been away in the army. It'll be all right." *You'll see.*
That night the small kids got sent to bed but they let Iphicles and his cousin stay up and serve the men. Electryon even had a goat killed for the feast, so there was meat. And wine. It was an honor to carry the jug around: Thereus had even given him a tip, and Pelias had told Amphitryon he was a beautiful boy.
Then Amphitryon had gotten angry at him, called him over and made him sit beside him on the couch. His father had put his big hand on Iphicles' shoulder. Occasionally he had shaken him affectionately by the neck.
Later Iphicles took a piece of the goat's meat to the hayloft to share with Herc. Meat was so rare that Herc had never eaten any before, and Iphicles laughed at the look on his face when he tasted it and then started gobbling. The little boy was lying on his belly in the hay because in the afternoon, he'd broken their aunt's best platter and now his back and ass were crossed with red stripes. He hadn't been crying but he whimpered once when Iphicles touched him there.
"Why'd you break it?" Iphicles asked.
"She kicked me," Herc said "She's scared of me."
"I know," he said, too tired to say it wasn't so, because it was. Anyway, he felt weird.
Herc was licking the fat off his fingers and looking at his cock. "Can I some milk?" he asked.
Iphicles' cock was really hard. It felt itchy and he was glad Herc wanted to. When Herc began to suck, Iphicles held his head and pumped into his mouth as hard as he could even though that made the baby cry. Then Iphicles made him do it again, twice, so that Herc fell asleep with Iphicles' cock still in his mouth.
They went home the next day to the old house on the hill above the village, Herc riding in front of Iphicles on the packhorse with their father's heavy armor. They stopped at the tavern on the way and had to wait while Amphitryon bought more wine. Their father's eyes were bloodshot when he came out. The rest of the ride, Amphitryon talked about his plans to put the farm in order. When Iphicles asked him what the horses' names were he was told to 'shut up!'
Iphicles had wanted to tell him that he had decided to be a soldier too but he couldn't say it. He didn't want to admit that he was scared shitless, but he shivered every time he caught a whiff of that sour smoke smell of Amphitryon's, so his palms were sweaty on the saddle horn. After waiting so long for this day, he couldn't understand why he felt so peculiar. Fortunately, Amphitryon didn't seem to expect anything from either boy. Herc just watched their father with his huge eyes the entire journey and Iphicles wished that he were young enough to get away with doing the same.
It was mid-afternoon when they got to the house. Amphitryon told Iphicles and Herc to take their bundles inside while he took the horses to a small paddock behind the barn. Some of Electryon's slaves had been sent ahead and put things in order, so inside it wasn't too dirty. The pantry was stocked with cheese and beer.
Alcmene's loom sat as she had left it. After five years of neglect, insects had consumed the threads of her weaving, while the lead weights had fallen to the floor and been swept into a pile of debris in case someone might want to salvage them later. There was a cradle beside it.
Herc looked at it in wonder, then Iphicles pointed at the loft and told him, "That's where I used to sleep."
The door opened and Amphitryon came in. He dropped his armor on the floor, the great hoplon shield with its painting of Medusa clanging against the crested helmet. He gave Iphicles a push. "Don't stand like a stick, boy," he said. "Put your things away. We have to talk."
Iphicles hustled Herc up the ladder to the loft. When they came down Amphitryon was sitting at the table drinking. He had taken off his sword belt and was wiping the blade with a cloth. It was a shorter blade and came to a sharper point than the long tapering swords that most of the villagers (well those few who had weapons) bore.
Amphitryon saw him staring and smiled. "Never seen anything like it, have you? It's called a gladius." He held it up and let the blade catch the light. "It's steel boy, harder than bronze, harder than cast iron even. I took it off a dead Roman."
"Did you kill him?" Iphicles asked. Herc came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Iphicles' leg, as he had the day before, and peeked around him at the sword.
Amphitryon nodded. "Not that it did any good--they butt-fucked us good." He shot Iphicles a sly look as he said that but Iphicles was too distracted by a new thought to notice.
"We lost!" he said, appalled. "But you're home!"
"I told you, we got our butts fucked." Amphitryon said. "There are too many of them with swords like this. There's a new order in Greece, boy. This country is going to be Rome's shopping basket from now on." Amphitryon put the sword down. "Come here."
They moved closer.
"We're going to run the farm here again. We're going to get slaves," he said. "And I know how we're going to make it pay."
"But I want to be a soldier," Iphicles protested.
"You're not listening to me, boy. Corinth doesn't need an army now. She needs men who know how to make other men work, not whining babies." Amphitryon seemed to notice Herc for the first time. With the speed of a snake he reached around Iphicles, pulled Herc out and held him up by the arm so that his toes barely reached the floor. Herc wasn't wearing anything but a skimpy tunic so he was entirely exposed. Amphitryon shook him. "Son of a goddamned god. Right! Menippus will give a hundred-and-fifty denars for him."
Herc struggled and tried to twist out of Amphitryon's grasp. Iphicles turned cold "You can't sell him!" he said.
"Legally I'm his father. I can do anything I want with him." Amphitryon slapped at Herc in irritation and Herc struggled harder. "Sell him. Kill him."
"Mother gave him to me," Iphicles protested. He felt sick.
"Forget it." Amphitryon told him. "He's a bastard. And even if your mother told the truth for once in her life and Zeus is his father, I'm not raising one of his by-blows." Amphitryon looked at Herc. "Perseus killed Creops and I'm not having it in my family."
Amphitryon was jerking Herc's arm; the look on his face was frightful. When Herc kicked at him, Amphitryon laughed, raised his arm and Iphicles grabbed hold of it. "Don't--you don't have any right."
* * *
Iphicles whipped his brother with the doubled belt until the beautifully sculpted cheeks of his ass turned bright red and were beaded with tiny drops of blood. Every now and then he'd stop and reach under to feel the soft sac, the hard, hard cock, and make a promise to the puckered ring of muscle with his finger. His brother's cries became hoarse and guttural but every time Iphicles stopped, he'd lift his ass higher for more punishment. Finally, when the body across his knees was trembling like an exhausted horse, Iphicles told him, "Get on the bed."
He didn't watch his brother crawl across the stones. Instead, he went to the chest where he kept the few things that he needed when he was in residence and took out a soft-rolled pack. He went to the bed, set it down, opened it and took out a phallus. Thick as three of his fingers and made of ivory with a leather grip, it gleamed in the firelight from much oiling.
His brother was lying face down toward the foot of the bed where the posts were linked across by a strong chain. His ass looked like it was on fire. Iphicles stroked it and Hercules looked at him, waiting for the next order.
"Get up on your knees," he said and the demigod obeyed. Iphicles smiled at the half-closed eyes and suffused expression. His cock was stiff in his open trousers but he lifted Hercules' chin and presented the phallus to him instead. His brother's lips parted and Iphicles pushed it in to be gobbled and sucked, and his cock bobbed with each wet sound, leaking its own tears of joy because it was so beautiful watching his brother do that.
When the phallus was wet and Hercules' ass was pushing up and down as though he were fucking the air, he took the phallus out, reached into the pack again and found the little bottle of sweet oil. "Turn on your back and spread your knees," Iphicles said. Hercules did and he almost came at the sight.
As he climbed on the bed and knelt between his brother's legs he heard Herc say, "Need you, Iph."
"Soon, Baby," he promised. He could see the tension in his brother's thighs and knew how close he was. He let a few heavy drops of oil fall on his fingers and didn't waste time with long preparation. When he shoved the phallus into Hercules' ass, his brother screamed and his seed fountained.
* * *
Iphicles grabbed hold of his father's arm. "Don't--you don't have any right to hit him." He's mine, he started to say as Amphitryon turned on him.
"What do you mean I don't have any right!" He let go of Herc, who scrambled under the loom, raising clouds of dust and linters.
Amphitryon grabbed Iphicles by the front of his tunic, twisting, and pulled him close. The sour smell was nauseating and he tried to get away from it but Amphitryon held him too tightly. "You're my son. You owe me respect. The law says I own you." Amphitryon was glaring at him, but then his expression softened. He relaxed his hold a bit but didn't let go. "You've gotten big ideas, son," he said. It almost sounded like a question. His father's voice was suddenly thick with some meaning that Iphicles couldn't figure out until Amphitryon took hold of the top of his tunic and ripped it down the front. That was all the clothing Iphicles wore too, except for a breechcloth.
His father ran a hand slowly down the front of him, as if he were checking the soundness of a horse he wanted to buy and Iphicles shivered as it touched his nipples. He was horrified to feel himself getting hard when his father reached in and felt him. His balls were fondled like dice before Amphitryon took the breechcloth down and smiled at Iphicles' erection. "I bet you think that thing makes you a man," he said and began unlacing his own trousers.
Iphicles saw his belly, matted with gray curls, and the cock he pulled out was long and thick, the color of dark wine. It was already turgid but Amphitryon stroked it few times, pulling the foreskin back and showed Iphicles the tip.
"Get it wet," he said. "It's time you were broken in, boy." He forced Iphicles to his knees, and pressed his thumb into the joint under the boy's cheek.
There was nothing Iphicles could do but open his mouth and swallow the thing. It tasted sweetish and smelled like piss. It was so big that it stuffed his mouth and he gagged. He thought he was going to vomit.
"You should be proud I'm your father," Amphitryon said. "Not many men could give their son such a big bone for his first time." Iphicles squirmed, but Amphitryon ignored it, holding his head and pumping back and forth in his mouth, not caring at all that his son was crying or his nose was running because he was being choked. Amphitryon's voice dropped to a parody of affection and he stroked the back of Iphicles' head roughly. "Your mouth's as sweet as a little girl's cunt," he said. "Have you forgotten how I used to play with you?"
Then his father pulled him to his feet, bent him over the table and held him down with one hand in the middle of his back. The sword and its scabbard fell off the other side. His father began to shove something into his ass. It felt like a hot poker was being shoved up inside him but he knew it was his father's cock slowly impaling him. He cried and his father laughed.
"That's right, little piggy, squeal like you used to," Amphitryon said and kept pushing.
It was raw. He was being split in half. Then something tore and a small hot trickle ran down his leg. Amphitryon grunted in satisfaction and began to move moved more easily inside of him. Then his father took hold of his hips, leaned over and began to fuck him hard.
Every time he rammed in, he grunted. Iphicles felt the matted belly slap his ass and heard the sound of the table scraping across the floor. Drops of sweat fell like hot rain on his back. How long the grunting and thrusting went on he didn't know, until finally the strokes got shorter and faster, and finally, with a deep guttural moan of satisfaction, the entire crushing weight of his father's body fell on top of him.
He couldn't move. He just lay there, crying softly with his father's wet body on top of him and the table wood grinding into his cheek as the edge of it cut into his thighs. Eventually Amphitryon chuckled, said something Iphicles couldn't make out as he levered himself up. His father's cock slipped from his ass and more hot fluid ran down his legs.
Amphitryon probed him with his fingers and rubbed the wetness all over his bum before patting it the way you would a good dog. "Cracked you, didn't I?" His father sounded satisfied. "Told Electryon if he touched you, I'd kill him; it's good for a boy to learn from his father." Iphicles tried to stand and thought he was going be sick. Amphitryon laughed and jerked him upright by the scruff of the neck, pointing to a stain on the table. "Just like your mother, loving it up the ass. We're going to get along, boy."
Something flew past them and crashed into the table.
"You," a furious voice said, "let go of Iph. You hurt him." Herc had crawled out from under the loom with another of the heavy weights in his hands.
Amphitryon looked at the child and laughed. "You want some of this too, you misbegotten little bastard?" Iphicles saw him take his cock, slick with bloody juice and begin to stroke it. "Come here, I'll give it to you, too."
"No!" Herc said. "You said my father was a god; you're nothing. You hurt Iph and I'm going to kill you!"
Herc threw the weight, hitting Amphitryon in the chest and knocking him backward. As the man roared, Herc threw himself at him. Amphitryon lifted an arm to smash at Herc but Iphicles caught hold of it and pulled him off balance so that when the boy hit him, he fell over backwards.
Hercules landed on top, biting and scratching like a wild animal. Amphitryon tried to knock him off but Iphicles was punching at him too and that hampered him. They rolled around on the floor with Amphitryon roaring and Iphicles screaming. Hercules didn't making any noise but he made Amphitryon bleed in a number of places until Amphitryon got up on his knees and hit him with his fist hard enough to knock him across the room. And then Amphitryon turned his attention to Iphicles.
It was the worst beating of his life. A white light exploded in his head every time his father hit him in the face. One eye swelled up and closed. His mouth was full of blood; he knew some of his teeth were broken.
"You good for nothing son of a whore," Amphitryon was screaming. "I'm going to give it to you 'til you understand that!" His father turned him over and Iphicles knew it was going to happen again. Amphitryon's hand was under him, lifting his ass. "And I'm going to geld that little bastard and use him too before I sell him."
* * *
Hercules screamed and his seed fountained with every thrust as Iphicles reamed him with the ivory phallus. He keened his pleasure until sensation became too much, then begged Iphicles to stop, but Iphicles said, "No, you can take it, Baby. Spread it, baby--give it all to me." Head tossing from side to side, Hercules' back arched and his cock erupted again.
Iphicles' own cock stood proud the whole of that exquisite performance until he almost couldn't bear it any longer. He lay down beside his brother then, still working the dildo in his ass. Hercules saw his cock, tried to reach for it. He got his hand slapped but then Iphicles gave him a kiss to make up for it.
"Gods, I love fucking you like this. You're so beautiful when you spread for me." Iphicles brushed a fingertip feather-light over damp brows and kissed the moist hollow of his brother's temple. "You look like you're glowing with a gold light," he told him. "I want to see you touch yourself now."
Hercules wrapped his hands around his still-hard cock and stroked himself while Iphicles rubbed his face against his brother's. He could feel the sounds that his brother made through the contact of their skulls, and when Hercules came for the third time, Iphicles covered his mouth to capture the scream.
* * *
It was happening again: Amphitryon had packed into him hard and he was still screaming from it when the weight of his father's body crashed down on him and everything went black as his head hit the floor. It was black for a long time.
There were hands on him, tugging. "Iph--Iph?" Herc was yanking on him and begging, "Iph, wake up, I want some milk now."
He felt cold and lightheaded. When he tried to open his eyes, one of them stayed glued shut and he could barely see out the other. When he reached up, he felt a big lump on his forehead. All over his face, it hurt to touch. "Herc?" He was on his hands and knees. He reached for his little brother, found him and used his shoulder to pull himself up to a sitting position. Something stunk. Then he saw what he'd been lying next to.
Amphitryon was dead, grotesquely sprawled in its own piss and shit with the Roman sword stuck in him deep enough to pierce the heart.
He wrapped his arms around Herc and scooted as far away from the dead man as he could. He was cold and shaking. Herc was butting against him so Iphicles pulled him close and held him tight because he was warm, rocking, making a hushing sound. He didn't know why he made it; there was no one they needed to fear waking.
"Iph." Herc said. "Look! I made some milk too."
Iphicles could feel the wetness on his thigh.
* * *
When Hercules came for the third time, Iphicles covered his mouth to capture the scream. He rolled over, pulling Hercules on top of him, trapping his cock between their bodies, and feeling it bathed in his brother's cum. Hercules spasmed, still coming, then collapsed in luxurious afterglow.
Iphicles sighed. There was no creature as warm or cuddly to hold as his brother when he was sated. Iphicles cradled the big body. Hercules snuggled into his shoulder and some ragged locks of hair tickled his chin. When Iphicles tried to brush them behind his brother's ear, they kept falling down again. He sighed and Hercules laughed at his frustration.
"Can't you get a decent haircut when I'm not around?" he asked.
"I need you here," Hercules said and gave him a sleepy kiss, teasing Iphicles' mouth with his tongue.
"You need me on the frontier too," Iphicles told him.
The Sovereign's arms tightened around him. "I know, but sometimes I'm afraid you won't come back."
"Then you'll harrow Tartarus until you find me and bring me home." Iphicles said that to comfort Hercules. His cock was still hard and he knew his brother could feel it. When he started to squirm and giggle, Iphicles knew what he wanted but he still held out.
"Iph," Herc said, "you promised."
"All right," Iphicles said, knowing he couldn't hold out much longer anyway. "You've been a good baby." He rolled on his side, let his brother slip down, and his cock was sucked into a voracious mouth. As his brother began to suckle, he stroked his hair and said, "Good Baby." He started to come, spilling himself copiously in his brother's mouth, and said, "You can have all the milk you want."