"Caesar, I think he knows," Iphicles says worriedly.
The words fall like black rain. "He can't."
"I'm telling you--he knows."
I laugh. The sound bounces off smooth, cold marble until a mocking echo fills the room. "I can't believe you're afraid. What can he do to us?" But I know what he can do. I know who he was, who he still is. He thinks he's conquered his past, but it lies in wait, tempting him. And we've given him cause to release that anger. Because he's not simply in love with Iphicles. Nothing is ever simple with him--the side-effect of his brilliance, his intricate history. So it's not simply love with him: it's obsession.
And Iphicles is afraid because he's not human, his obsessed lover. He looks human, of course. Beautiful. Sleek like a cat, with hell-black eyes. He's controlled, like I am, unless crossed. Then he breeds violence. He is evil. He is death. Methos.
"He'll kill us," Iphicles says. "He'll kill us both. I told you that from the beginning." He stares at me with those amber-ringed eyes. Tiger eyes. It's odd to see him scared. "You know what he did to those Macedonian soldiers."
I nod. Everyone knows the story. And while I have my own reputation for violence, Methos exceeds it. Those men....Flayed alive, skin hung from the city wall, dripping hearts piled neatly just before the gate. Scrawled above the tattered flesh in the soldiers' blood, a message: ‘Surrender.'
He meant it as a gift to the Corinthian king, doubtless convincing himself that love justified his brutal act. At the time, I'd admired his technique, although it wasn't successful at first. But the third time it happened in as many days, the Macedonians broke. Corinth won that war. And became powerful enough to enter into an alliance with Rome. That's how we met.
Iphicles arrived in my throne room surrounded by a small group of advisors, including his violent lover. When the king dropped to his knees before me, I imagined his full lips closed around my cock and knew I had to have him.
But Methos must've seen my desire, although I barely noticed him. He can disappear into the background at will. But he came to my attention later, during the state dinner. One of my triumvirate--young, headstrong but an outstanding soldier--bragged of Roman prowess with a sword and jokingly issued a challenge to the Corinthians.
Methos rose to his feet. "I accept. I'll fight for the king."
I allowed the duel to take place, on the condition that the emphasis be on spectacle, not violence, and we gathered around the two men to watch the fight. Romans are always so eager for spectacle.
It was soon apparent that Claudius was outmatched. His opponent, always smiling, toyed with him, making tiny, razor-sharp cuts on my friend's face and body, until the blood ran freely. I couldn't object, since the wounds weren't mortal, but for show. Just as I'd ordered.
Claudius' face grew red, and his temper rose after each stinging nick. He'd expected an easy victory, and didn't like to be embarrassed before his emperor and sometime lover. His blows became more vicious, but Methos sidestepped them easily. Suddenly, he tired of the game, and with one sweep of his gleaming blade, struck Claudius through the heart. With a gasp, one echoed by the crowd, my doomed friend slumped to the floor, his blood staining the white marble.
As I leapt to my feet, Methos turned to me, shrugging his elegant shoulders. "You asked for spectacle, Caesar. I merely gave you what you asked."
I couldn't argue with that. And in other circumstances, I might've taken him for a lover as a reward for his violent cleverness. But it was Iphicles who'd caught my attention, with his broad shoulders and pouty mouth. Not just with his beauty, either. He had a quiet wit that he'd demonstrated between bites of juicy pheasant, and a strange courtesy. I couldn't take my eyes off him. But I realized almost at once that Methos and Iphicles were lovers; the former's possessive attitude toward the king was hard to miss.
Iphicles, however, seemed as entranced by me as I was with him.
"He's jealous," the king confided one evening. "And you've seen his temper." We were seated side-by-side in the new palace amphitheater, watching a comedy by Plautus. I'd arranged beforehand that several seats would separate the king and his lover, so we could talk privately.
His thigh pressed against mine in the dark, and my cock hardened. "Can you get away from him?"
"I'll try. I've been thinking about you since we met." He bit my earlobe, then pulled back.
"You're making me hard," I whispered.
His command startled me. Used to giving the orders, it excited me to be given one, so I obeyed him, sliding my hand slowly over my cock, keeping my eyes straight ahead. I could feel Iphicles' eyes on me.
"That's it. Stroke it. Pretend it's my hand."
I rubbed the swollen head of my cock, imagining Iphicles' fingers doing this to me, imagining his mouth on me.
"I want to fuck you," he said quietly.
My cock jumped. I could feel my skin heating even in the cool night air, as Iphicles seduced me with his soft-voiced commands.
"First, though--I'd like to suck the head of your cock." He pressed the length of his muscular body against mine. "Running my tongue slowly around it."
I nearly moaned, moving my hand faster. Marius, on my other side, was too busy laughing at the actors to notice, and the dark shrouded me from others' eyes. Only Iphicles knew.
"I'm taking it deep in my throat now, sucking hard." He paused. "You should feel how hard I am." His hand rested on his lap. "Just when you're ready to cum, I'd move back and let your semen spill onto my tongue."
My orgasm came suddenly, and I exhaled sharply, stunned by pleasure. It finally died down, leaving me wanting him even more. "I need to touch you," I told Iphicles. "Can you get away from him tomorrow?" My thighs were sticky, and I imagined him licking up the semen.
"I'll try. Feeling you cum beside me like that was...incredible. My cock's fucking hard right now."
"So come with me into the corridor, and I'll make you cum. We don't need to hide like this."
Iphicles shook his head. "You don't understand him. He won't care who you are--he'll kill us both."
I didn't believe him. How could I? I didn't believe in death--at least not my own. My destiny was to rule the world, to have my every desire fulfilled. And my desire then, as it's been ever since, was to have Iphicles.
We couldn't meet the following day, and my desire increased. I couldn't think of anything but him. To understand the nature of my obsession, I tried to rationalize it, arguing that it was because Iphicles always looked like he'd just been fucked, so I inevitably saw him in a sexualized way. His thick curls fell into his dark eyes, as though fingers had been tangled there, while his ripe, swollen lips made him look as though like he'd just been kissed for hours. And his body...
The first time I saw Iphicles naked, I just stared at his hard, spread thighs, the thick cock resting against his firm stomach, the muscular arms extended in invitation. His honeyed skin glowed in the candlelight, and for a second I thought a god visited me. No human could be that perfect.
When we first touched, though, it was quick and hard and rough--no time to disrobe. I'd arranged a feast to celebrate our alliance with Corinth and invited hundred of people, deliberately cramming them all into one of the smaller halls of the palace. In the ensuing drunken revelry, Iphicles and I slipped into a darkened chamber nearby.
Without a word, he pushed me back against the wall, shoving his tongue into my mouth, while I pulled his cock free from the tight leather. We groped each other like teenagers, rubbing our naked cocks together before he fell to his knees to suck me. I came almost at once in his warm mouth, under the insistent pressure of his tongue, and he barely finished swallowing before he threw me to the ground, ramming his cock in my ass.
It was bestial, violent, desperate. Incredible. And it left me bruised and eager for more. I spent the rest of the night walking from guest to guest at the party with Iphicles' semen dripping out of me. He watched me from across the room, drinking glass after glass of sweet Gaelic wine to cover his salty breath. His lover was trapped in a corner by two of the handsome young prostitutes I'd imported for the evening. I'd told those two that they'd receive an extra fifty denarii if they seduced the man, or at least kept him occupied for the night.
I ended up in bed with the two boys--jealous and frustrated when I saw Methos lead the king from the room, knowing that he'd be fucking him somewhere in the palace. Even the two expert tongues licking my cock couldn't comfort me. Even when I fucked one boy, while the other pounded into me, I couldn't stop thinking of Iphicles. I couldn't stop thinking of his lust-flushed face as Methos slid into him, of the other man's hand pumping Iphicles' heavy cock until they both came together.
I hate him for his power.
"How did you two meet?" I asked Iphicles the next day at dinner. I'd kept the group small: just me, the king, Methos, and the two prostitutes, Marcus and Lucius.
Methos answered. "On the battlefield. I saw him from a distance, slitting the throat of his enemy. I admire men who are good with their swords." He smiled at the king.
The wine turned bitter in my mouth. "And you've been...friends ever since?" I gestured to Marcus and Lucius, who fell obediently to their knees before me. Lifting my tunic, they began to tongue my balls, pausing occasionally to kiss each other.
Iphicles, provoked as I intended, went to rise, but Methos stopped him. "It's just Caesar's infamous Roman decadence. Ignore it--you're not finished eating." He stared at the king with those dead black eyes. "Unless there's some other reason you want to leave?"
"Of course not." Iphicles sat back down, his long legs stretched out before him.
He was jealous. Good. I spread my legs further apart, to let one boy ease a saliva-slick finger inside me. "I like pleasure," I told them. "And these two are well-paid for their services."
"You pay them?" Methos' eyebrows raised. He pulled a plump date from the blue dish on the table before him and fed it to his lover.
"Of course. This way, there are no messy emotional entanglements. No jealousy. No anger." I looked at Methos, ignoring Iphicles. Marcus had begun to suck the head of my cock, Lucius to lick the shaft, and my breathing quickened. "That's nice," I said encouragingly, stroking one silky head. "So what happened after you saw him on the field?"
"What do you think? Iphicles is a very passionate man, and nothing gets him more excited than blood."
"And what about you, Iphicles? What did you think of him?"
"I thought he was death. And I wanted him."
The mouths got more insistent, sucking harder, drawing even more blood to swell the skin of my cock. I reached for the cruet of olive oil, spilling some onto my hands, then I pushed the two boys away to smear the liquid onto my shaft. I drew Marcus onto my lap, sliding my oily cock into his tight ass.
"I think we should go," the king insisted. "I'm finished here."
"Come on, Iphicles. Doesn't it excite you to watch Caesar fucking that boy? It excites me." He pulled the king's hand over his cock. "See?"
Iphicles tried to pull away. "I'm not in the mood for this."
"Yes you are," Methos retorted. His fingers closed over the king's leather-covered cock. "Caesar's very handsome, don't you think, with those dark green eyes and that lean, hard body? That boy seems to like him--listen to his moans."
I stared at Iphicles while Marcus rode my cock and I licked his damp back, waiting for the king's response.
"Very handsome." He stood up quickly, and the chair clattered to the floor behind him. "I'm leaving."
Methos watched him storm out, then turned back to me. "He can be uptight sometimes. But he's so beautiful, don't you think, Caesar?"
"Yes," I groaned, thrusting up into the boy's ass as my orgasm started. "Yes! So beautiful..."
Three long days later, Methos left for the coastal city of Brundisium with a coterie of Roman diplomats to discuss that city's surrender. I'd asked that he join them because the Brundisians were allied with Gaul, and Methos, as I'd learned, spoke the language fluently, and would be an asset there. He raised no objections, even when Iphicles and I decided to stay in Rome as part of the negotiating team meeting with the visiting Athenian delegation. I specifically requested the king's presence, saying that I wanted his expertise in Greek politics.
I spent the day with the Athenians, Iphicles by my side. I watched his body tense as he argued with the Athenian ambassador about territory, admiring his fluent speech as he persuaded the men of my power.
He always deferred to me, was always polite. Too polite. I wondered if my display with the prostitutes had disgusted him, if my obsession was now one-sided. So distracted by thoughts of fucking him, by my fears, I said little during the talks. My adolescent behavior disturbed me, but I couldn't stop. I wanted him so much. Too much.
I drank a lot at dinner, getting quieter and quieter. The king seemed to ignore me, barely acknowledging my questions, flirting instead with a minor member of the Athenian delegation. I left the meal early, retiring to my room.
Sitting at my desk, I tried to write, but the words wouldn't come. All I could think about was him. Why had I pulled that shit with the two boys? It was a childish thing to do--I wanted to make him throw over Methos for me. Instead, I only repulsed him with my decadence.
Angrily tossing down my stylus, I walked to the window, throwing open the shutters. Lemon-scented air wafted in, and I knew I needed release. My clothes fell to the floor, then I lay on the bed and started jerking off--hard, furious strokes. I almost missed the door swinging open. I'd told the sentries to let Iphicles in if he ever showed up, and now he was here.
I continued to rub my cock. "What do you want?" My tone was cold, dismissive.
The door closed behind him, but he hesitated. "I thought...Do you want me to go?"
"Yes." As he turned to leave, my pride broke. "Wait. Why did you come?"
"Caesar..." He looked uncomfortable. Beautiful.
"I...I can't stop thinking about you. I want to fuck you. Nothing's changed. No--that's not true. I want you more than ever. Seeing you with those boys--It made me sick. Jealous. I've never felt like that. I couldn't handle it."
"Come here." His boots clacked on the tiled floor as he moved toward me. At the side of the bed, he stopped and began to strip. Vest, shirt, belt, pants, boots all fell to the floor until he stood naked before me. When he went to climb onto the bed, I stopped him, moving to the edge of the mattress. "Let me suck you first."
I closed my fingers around his hard cock and licked the head. My first taste of him. Salty, with an underlying hint of sweetness. I was painfully hard, but I couldn't stop running my tongue over his delicious cock, around the swollen head, in the slit, down the length...I wanted to eat him, ingest him, subsume him.
"No more--I'm going to cum," he moaned.
"I don't care." I sucked harder, stroking his balls, squeezing his ass.
"I do--I want to cum inside you." He handed me a glass jar full of oil from the table beside the bed, and I spread the spicy liquid onto his cock until it gleamed in the candlelight.
Then I lay back on the bed, opening my legs wide. "Fuck me, Iphicles."
He grabbed my thighs, raising me higher, then took his cock in one hand. He entered me slowly this time, allowing me to adjust to his size before giving me another inch. I didn't even touch my own cock; I was too close to orgasm already, and I wanted to cum with him.
Only when he was fully inside me did I begin to touch myself, imitating the rhythm of his long, hard strokes.
"Is it good?" he whispered above me. Silvery beads of sweat dripped onto me as he plunged into my body.
"It's... incredible," I told him. "You're...incredible." I could feel him shaking, and my own thighs started to quiver with tension.
"I'm going to cum...I can't hold back anymore."
I felt the wet heat inside me, felt his cock pulsing, and my own semen burst from me, covering my chest with creamy whiteness. Iphicles bent down and licked it off, then kissed me, letting me taste my semen on his tongue.
He collapsed beside me, pulling me against his chest. I sucked one of his tanned nipples while we caught our breath.
"Stay with me tonight," I said forcefully. "He won't know. And fuck him if he finds out."
He propped himself up on one elbow, looking down at me. For a second I thought he'd refuse, then he kissed me, gently this time. "I want to stay."
Iphicles slept with me every night that Methos was gone. We fucked a thousand times, unable to satisfy our need. On the eighth night, the evening before his lover's return, I asked Iphicles why he stayed with him.
"I've tried to leave. He always finds me. You don't know him, Caesar. He's not human."
"What're you saying? That he's some kind of god?"
Iphicles shook his head. "No. But he can't be killed. I don't know why. But he's been around for centuries--eons--and that's made him an expert manipulator. He can always convince me to come back--that I can't live without him. Maybe he's right."
Rage, hot and viscous, boiled inside me. "No! You don't need him. Just tell him to go. I need you, Iphicles."
With a groan, he kissed me, tongue searching, while he pulled me onto him.
As his cock slid into me, I stared into his eyes. "Please, Iphicles."
This takes us to the present. Back to the beginning. The ninth night. A whispered conversation between Iphicles and I. "Caesar, I think he knows." It ends with the king's confession of the one thing that can kill an immortal: the swift, sure stroke of a sword.
I've done it before. I can kill Methos. First, a little poison in a glass of wine. Enough to kill a mortal man, but it'll only put him to sleep for awhile. But long enough to separate his head from his shoulders. For my lover. So we can be together, as we were meant to be.
I invite them both to my room. Iphicles is nervous and keeps pacing. Methos, cool as ever, accepts my glass of wine with a smile. We both watch as the blood-red liquid passes his lips.
"You know about us," I say. It's ok now. We're safe. This bastard will die, and I'll have my beautiful king forever.
That cruel laugh. "Of course. I knew the moment I saw you together, Caesar. Nothing surprises me anymore."
His words disturb me. There's something about his tone--a hint of mockery.
"So why did you leave us?"
He shrugs. "You'd already fucked--" At our startled glances, he smiles again. "Of course I knew about that. Iphicles reeked of sex. And his guilt was obvious in bed later that night. He offered to suck my cock, and he'd been avoiding sex with me for awhile. And it was less that I left you alone, than gave myself time to think. To make some decisions."
I watch Iphicles brush back his hair in the room's heat. "We made some decisions, too."
"Caesar, you're really too amusing. Such a waste."
The heat grows, and I try to walk to the window, but my body won't obey. Then I know. He'd outsmarted us.
"I'll leave you two alone now. It's the least I can do. And don't worry, Caesar. I've arranged something a little special for you. It won't look like love, but assassination. I thought you might appreciate that. Goodbye." He disappears swiftly through the doorway.
Iphicles stares at me. "What did he mean? I don't understand." But I see the panic rising in his eyes. He knows, too.
"Let's lie down," I say.
"No--maybe there's a cure. We could find a cure. Fuck! When did he do this? At dinner, of course. I should've known. I should've known. Fuck." His voice rises. He's scared of death.
So am I. Terrified. This is so wrong. It doesn't make sense. I had plans. I was going to rule the world. And Iphicles was going to help me. "Come here."
He walks to me, and we use the last of our strength to strip off our clothes. Then we lie together on the bed in each other's arms.
"No, Iphicles. Don't talk. Just listen to the sound of my voice. I remember when I saw you that first time. You were so beautiful. So strong. I think I loved you even then. I've never felt like this about anyone. I love you, Iphicles. I wanted to be with you forever. I wanted to hold you in my arms until..."