The God of War paced around his temple, fuming. He was genuinely astonished that the Conqueror had actually chosen to change things back, all on the word of his pathetic half-brother. He certainly hadn't anticipated that the driven and single-minded warlord he had nurtured in that timeline would be so taken with the demigod. He had to admit to himself, ruefully but not without a touch of pride, that Xena could not be manipulated and controlled, no matter what situation he threw at her, no matter how carefully planned and geared toward her particular nature. There was some essential core to Xena that he could never reach, and it maddened him that the ones who could reach it were that insipid blonde, Gabrielle, and Hercules.
Ares had more than once considered seriously using the blonde against Xena--bending her to his will by threatening Gabrielle's life. But it wasn't worth the risk that Xena might kill herself to save Gabrielle, rather than comply with his demands--hadn't she been willing to sacrifice herself in her quest to free Prometheus, rather than let Hercules be killed? If Gabrielle's life were at stake, she would be even more determined. Ares sighed. Foiled again. Still, there was satisfaction to be derived from what he had done. He had an opportunity to play with his half-brother's pet, Iolaus, although the passive Iolaus of that timeline hadn't intrigued him nearly as much as the original one had. Nonetheless, fucking him while he knew Hercules had been watching had been enormously satisfying. And his knowledge of Hercules' heretofore undiscovered desire to be mastered was another satifisfaction. Hercules would ache and pine for the Conqueror's firm hand, no matter how happy he was to be reunited with his golden-haired boy toy.
So, his plan hadn't been a complete wash--any time he could make his half-brother suffer he felt a sense of accomplishment. But the Conqueror had been such a glorious achievement. Watching her in that battle against Caesar's forces had been truly . . . inspiring. Irritated, the God of War couldn't stop himself from tormenting himself further. With a morbid curiosity, Ares created a window with which he could look in on the warrior princess, but after a while, he found what he was watching to be just too sickening, and he decided his time could be better spent stirring up a war somewhere . . .
* * *
Xena and Gabrielle were bathing in a stream, and Xena was washing the bard's hair. But somehow, her hand kept snaking around to draw circles on Gabrielle's taut abdomen, or to slide up her ribs along her side, or to curve around a slippery breast. She released Gabrielle so she could duck under the water to rinse her hair, then pulled her back against her, her own hard nipples pressed against the bard's back. Xena leaned down to murmur throatily in Gabrielle's ear, "You belong to me, you know that, don't you?"
"Yes, Xena!" gasped Gabrielle, responding both to the dark richness of Xena's voice and to the hands that were now cupping and caressing her breasts.
"And never let it be said I don't take good care of what belongs to me," added the warrior, rolling Gabrielle's nipples between her fingers.
"Oh, that feels good," sighed Gabrielle happily, "but are you sure you don't want me to do something for you?"
"Part of taking care of what's mine is making her feel good," purred Xena, sending a little ripple of pleasure down the bard's spine. She shifted slightly to the side. One hand strayed downward to play with the reddish curls under water, while the other hand fondled Gabrielle's firm buttocks, dipping occasionally between her legs. "Tell me, is there anything you want, Gabrielle?"
The bard blushed. "Can we . . . um . . . use our new toy?"
Xena grinned. "Only if you go get it. I like to watch you."
Gabrielle flushed again, and waded to the bank, climbing up and trotting over to where their gear was stashed. She came back with a phallus carved of wood and polished to a gleaming smoothness. "Come over here and lie down on this rock," said Xena, indicating a large flat sun-warmed rock that extended out from the bank into the stream. "Scoot up, and let your legs dangle here," she continued, pressing Gabrielle's knees wide apart. Xena's fingers played along the inside of Gabrielle's thighs. "I like this, right here," commented the warrior, as she stroked the slight swell of the inner thigh just where it met the pelvis. It tickled, and Gabrielle squirmed slightly, and, grinning, Xena began tickling her thighs and the backs of her knees on purpose.
When a laughing and writhing Gabrielle began to try to push Xena's hands away, Xena easily caught both of her wrists in one hand. "I will get back at you for this!" the bard threatened.
"Sure you will."
"I will!" she inadvertently shrieked, as Xena's tickling grew more purposeful.
"I'm looking forward to it," drawled the warrior, but she stopped tickling Gabrielle, instead sliding two fingers inside her. "I guess you liked that" said Xena, lifting one eyebrow in amusement. "It looks like I won't have to send you to get the oil."
She took the phallus, running its tip between Gabrielle's lower lips, and Gabrielle squirmed in frustration. "Please Xena," she asked. "Please, I want it inside me."
"Well, since you ask so nicely," said the warrior coolly, positioning the phallus at the entrance to her lover's body and sliding it inside.
"Uh-huh, like that," said Gabrielle decisively.
Xena moved the phallus in and out with maddening deliberation, sliding it almost all the way out on each stroke and not providing quite enough friction or stimulation to let Gabrielle come.
"Xe-na!" complained the aroused bard.
"Will you never learn patience?" teased Xena. She pushed the phallus all the way in, holding it in place with one hand and lowered her mouth to Gabrielle's clit. At first she lightly flicked it with just the tip of her tongue before settling in with firmer, circular strokes. When she sucked it suddenly into her mouth, Gabrielle yelped, convulsing vigorously around the phallus that filled her. "Was that something along the lines of what you wanted, my love?"
"Oh yes, Xena. I love you."
"I love you, too," said the warrior, pulling herself up onto the rock beside Gabrielle and fastening her mouth onto her lover's for a long, long kiss.
* * *
After Hercules had finished relating his experiences in the other timeline, Iolaus just shook his head, saying first, "Whoa" and then "Shit." Then he added, "Um, Herc, why did you tell me? I mean, in some ways it never happened."
"A couple of reasons. I didn't want you hearing about it from anyone else, namely Ares. And it . . . changed me in some ways." Hercules shrugged. "I didn't want to keep it from you, try to pretend everything was the same . . . when it isn't. For all his mistakes and misjudgments, Ares made sure of that." Iolaus nodded thoughtfully, and Hercules continued. "And I realized . . . again . . . how much I've . . . taken you for granted. I want you to be able to count on me. I didn't mean to hurt you, Iolaus. I wanted to get back to you so badly--and it was ripping me up to know you were with him, but I couldn't help . . ."
"Herc, give me some credit," interjected Iolaus softly. "In a situation like that, do you think I wouldn't take advantage of it? It was Xena after all. I couldn't have resisted her . . . I almost envy you the experience. I probably would have eaten it up," he finished ruefully.
"Really?" asked Hercules. "It was so hard for me." He reached behind himself, as if expecting to find whip marks there.
"I imagine it would be," said Iolaus with a wry smile.
"I realized something," mused the demigod. "I realized I've never given myself to you the way you've given yourself to me."
Iolaus couldn't help snorting in derision. "This is supposed to be an insight, Herc?"
"Look, Iolaus, I know I'm clueless. Maybe I have too much of my father in me. But I'm trying, damn it!"
"I'm sorry, Herc. I know you are."
"It was a hard lesson for me," noted Hercules seriously. "It was so hard to surrender myself to her will, but at the same time, it was something I had to do."
"That's how it works, Herc," said Iolaus drily. "I guess you had to experience it for yourself to recognize it."
Hercules turned to peer at Iolaus more closely. "Is that how it is for you, Iolaus?"
Iolaus burst out laughing. "If your sister were here, she'd say 'Well, du-uh!' right about now. It's a good thing you're so pretty, Herc, or I'd have booted you out a long time ago. If Xena helped you figure some of this stuff out, more power to her."
Hercules flushed. "I'm sorry, Iolaus, that I'm so thoughtless. I could try to blame it on what I inherited from my father, but by now I should have overcome that. I'm so sorry."
"Hey," said Iolaus gently. "Clueless or not, you're the one I love more than anyone else in the world, Hercules. And I'm awfully glad you succeeded in restoring this timeline--I don't want to be with anyone but you, my love." He kissed Hercules softly on the lips.
Hercules smiled wanly. "I'd do anything for you, Iolaus, you know that. I'm going to figure out a way to prove myself to you. But first, I need to make sure Xena's OK and back together with Gabrielle."
"Well, then, let's go," said Iolaus, smiling and shaking his head as he followed Hercules.
* * *
After some travelling and some making of inquiries, Hercules and Iolaus found Xena and Gabrielle, apparently looking for them. "I believe rabbit stew is on the menu tonight. Care to join us for dinner?" asked Xena, gesturing to the small clearing where Gabrielle had been setting up sticks for a fire. Argo was placidly grazing nearby.
"We'd be delighted," said Iolaus, looking forward to catching up on things with Gabrielle and perhaps commiserating about their respective relationships. "I'll help Gabrielle," he volunteered, knowing from experience that Xena preferred not to cook.
Xena glanced at Hercules and jerked her head sideways. "I need to talk to you. Let's take a walk."
Hercules nodded and followed her out of the clearing.
"What's up?" asked Xena tersely.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "I . . . just wanted to make sure you two were OK. Checking in with you."
"That's very thoughtful, Hercules," said Xena with a wry smile, "but that's not what I'm talking about. You're looking at me differently, and when I suggested we take a walk, you tensed up. Even now, you're holding yourself differently."
"You're very observant," noted Hercules drily, avoiding answering her questions.
"I'd be dead by now if I wasn't," she responded. "Something's going on. I've been having some very vivid dreams about things I know never happened. They don't seem like Strife's work, but they're so much clearer than regular dreams. And you're in them."
"I see," said Hercules quietly, trying to digest this information. "And were they . . . good dreams?"
Xena flashed a brilliant smile. "Yeah, actually. Very good. You look relieved, Hercules."
"Do I? So . . . um . . . what were they about?"
"Welll," drawled Xena. "I seemed to be a warlord, but this time I seemed to have conquered all of Greece. I knew somehow that I was fighting Caesar. Most of the dreams involved you though. I'll be blunt. I seemed to be having my way with you," she concluded, her eyes dancing with amusement.
Hercules flushed. "I didn't think you'd . . . " he began. "Shit. All of that did happen . . . in another timeline. Ares did it--it was his way of getting you back the way he wanted you--and giving me a hard time at the same time. Fortunately, I . . . persuaded you to ask to have this time restored."
"That meddling coward!" snapped Xena. "How in Hades did he manage to pull that off, anyway?"
"Hera helped him."
Xena raised her eyebrows and shook her head in exasperation. "Tell me more."
"Do I have to?" asked Hercules softly, dropping his eyes.
"I'd appreciate it," said Xena seriously. "Have a seat?" She gestured to a fallen tree.
Hercules sighed and sat down next to Xena. "Zeus forced one concession out of them. If you asked to have things put back the way they were, they had to do it. Ares wanted me there, seeing you as a warlord again--you were known as the Conqueror in fact. And he had made Iolaus his."
"Of course he did," snapped Xena, shaking her head with disgust.
"I knew I had to gain your confidence," continued Hercules, "so I could tell you about the way things were supposed to be. 'Dite suggested I let myself be captured as a . . . slave. And I did." He paused, and a mere flicker of a smile crossed his face. "I seem to have met with your approval."
"So you were my slave . . . " mused Xena. "I can definitely see some possibilities there. I'm only sorry Ares didn't leave me with memories of the whole thing. I want to hear all about it."
"Xena!" protested Hercules, embarrassed.
"Please?" asked Xena, "I want to know what Ares was up to, and, frankly, I want to know what you and I were up to. I'd like to know what I'm missing." She took his hand in one of hers, lightly stroking the back with her fingers. "Trust me, Hercules?"
She smiled, and a flash of exasperated resignation crossed Hercules' face. "Fine," he said tightly. "I'll tell you."
" . . . and it was hard," he concluded some time later, jumping up and beginning to pace, avoiding Xena's eyes. "You represented everything that I fight against, and I just lost my will in yours."
"Really," said Xena, fighting the smile that seemed determined to quirk her lips and rising gracefully to her feet. "Why do you suppose that is?"
"There was something about you . . . there," said Hercules. "A kind of presence that no one could resist. You . . . overwhelmed me." He shrugged and glanced away.
"Did I, now?" said Xena with an amused smile. "How so?"
"You had this . . . ability," explained the demigod, "a way of getting everyone around you to do exactly what you wanted, when you wanted. I couldn't have disobeyed you if I wanted to."
"I see," said Xena drily, "Was it something like this?" She turned away for a moment, then whirled around to face Hercules. Her eyes burned with cold fire, and her body seemed to radiate energy, determination, authority, and purpose. In a devastatingly quiet voice she said, "On your knees, boy!" Each word was weighted and modulated for maximum effect, and Hercules felt an almost-involuntary reflex twitch his legs, as his body immediately responded to an irresistable impulse to kneel. But he stopped himself, staring at Xena with his jaw slightly dropped. For that moment she was the Conqueror, and she had just unleashed the full force of her power on him.
"Yeah," he said slowly. "It was something like that. Can you just do that any time?"
The commanding atttitude melted, and Xena burst out laughing. "Yes, Hercules, as a matter of fact, I can, but I don't do it very often. And you're one of the very, very few people I've seen who could withstand it. See, it wasn't memaking you obey--you're going to have live with the fact that you did it of your own free will."
Hercules sat down again, putting his face in his hands. Xena joined him, pulling his hands away from his face and making him look at her. "Why are you so embarrassed by it?" she asked. "By your accounts, which the dreams I've been having confirm, you offered me a rare and wonderful gift. Even though it wasn't me as I am now, I feel honored."
"I don't know if I can explain it," began the demigod. "At the time it felt like the . . . right thing to do. Like it was the only thing to do. I wanted to please you more than anything. But--the things you did to me, the things I submitted to--willingly--that's just not how I see myself, Xena. Looking back I wonder how I could have done those things."
He had picked up a stick and was drawing it in restless pattern in the dirt. "Do you look down on Iolaus for giving himself to you?" Xena asked abruptly.
"Gods, no. He's beautiful when he does. But he almost always puts up a fight. I made no resistance at all."
Xena shook her head in mild exasperation. "Iolaus puts up a fight because he likes to be overpowered. You can't be overpowered--by a mortal anyway. For you to surrender yourself like that, when all along you didn't have to obey me, took strength, Hercules. And a real generosity of spirit. Face it, my friend, as much as you want to master, you want to be mastered as well. Don't lock away what I helped you open up. Think of what your submission would mean to Iolaus."
"You're right," he mused, "I know I don't open myself up to him the way he does to me. There's so much more I could be giving him. I've always just used my strength to assume the upper hand--that always felt safe to me, and I never had to be vulnerable the way he did."
"Uh-huh," agreed Xena emphatically. "You're not the only one."
"Oh, really?" responded Hercules. "Care to elaborate?"
"Nope. This isn't about me," she answered curtly. Then she turned to him, her face softened, and raised his hand to her lips. "Thank you for trusting me enough tell me about it, Hercules. Means a lot to me. I only wish I'd been there to experience it for myself . . . " She paused. "C'mon," she said, punching him in the arm and suddenly changing the subject, "we still have some time before they'll get that stew ready. Let's do some sparring--I could use the workout."
Hercules got up and grinned. "Admit it, Xena. You just want a legitimate excuse to leave your marks on me."
* * *
That night Hercules wrapped himself around Iolaus with a fierce intensity. From his perspective, it had been many days since he had made love to him, and he wanted to reclaim every part of Iolaus' body as his. With his fingers and lips and teeth and tongue, he coaxed all of Iolaus' nerves awake, playing along his throat, over his chest, across his back, down his arms, up his legs, and around his nipples and cock. Iolaus' groans of arousal and pleasure were only muffled by the squeaks and sighs and moans coming from the bedroll on the other side of the fire, punctuated by the low purr of Xena's voice.
Afterward, as they lay in sweaty proximity, Hercules still stroking Iolaus' body in grateful awe for what he'd been given, he said, "Iolaus, my love, I wish I could offer myself to you the way you offer yourself to me. That you trust me with all of you, your body, your soul, is a miracle--I wish I could open myself to you in the same way."
"I know Herc," said the hunter softly. "Most of the time there's nowhere else I'd rather be than under your control. But there are times when I'd like to be the one in charge. And maybe it's my own limitation, but I can't ever forget that you can always just turn things around and take over."
"Damn, I do that a lot, don't I?" mused Hercules.
"Yeah, you do. You're a lousy bottom, Herc, but I love you anyway."
"Wait!" exclaimed the demigod, his face lighting up with a broad smile. "I have an idea! I'll have to be gone for about a day, but I think it'll be worth it."
"Sure, Herc. I'll be waiting for you."
"I love you, Iolaus."
"Love you too, Herc," murmured Iolaus sleepily.
The next morning they took their leave from a fresh and alert Xena and a groggy Gabrielle, who really would have preferred to sleep longer. After bidding farewell to Iolaus, Xena rested a hand on Hercules' arm, saying "Take care of yourself, Hercules." Their eyes locked, and a reaffirmation of the deep bond of their love and friendship passed between them. Gabrielle and Iolaus hugged good-bye, and the women headed down the road together, leading Argo. Iolaus struck off for home, and Hercules went to complete his errand.
* * *
Iolaus had been meditatively contemplating the sunset and wondering what Hercules was up to; when it got dark, he wandered inside. After lighting candles, he sat down to read a couple of scrolls Gabrielle had copied for him. He flung the scroll aside when he heard the unmistakable sounds of Hercules' entrance into the forge. The demigod stepped into the bedroom, carrying a leather pouch that emitted a clanking noise. "Look!" he exclaimed, without bothering to greet Iolaus. He pulled a set of chains and cuffs out of the pouch.
"Herc?" asked Iolaus, puzzled.
Hercules wrapped the ends of one of the chain around his hands and tried to pull it apart. He strained and grimaced, his muscles flexing and swelling in that way that Iolaus never failed to find arousing, but the links of the chain didn't budge. Hercules beamed proudly, his eyes shining. "I can't break these, Iolaus! I had Hephaestus make them strong enough. He complained about it too."
Iolaus grinned. "Did you tell him what they were for?"
"Naw. Let him speculate."
Iolaus was finally taking in the significance of Hercules' errand. "You can't break those, and you're going to let me put them on you?"
"Yes, Iolaus," said Hercules, turning serious. He sank to his knees in front of his lover and pulled something off his belt. "Here are the keys. They're yours. Keep them where you like--I don't have to know where they are. I do trust you, and now I can prove it."
Iolaus accepted the keys, his eyes wide. Hercules had never knelt quite so gracefully before. His whole posture radiated both willing submission and a calm pride, as he tossed his hair back, and clasped his hands behind his back. "You have changed," he murmured.
"I-I've learned to give up . . . control," explained the demigod. "It wasn't easy. I love you Iolaus--and I want to give myself to you in a way I've never been able to before. Take me, use me, whatever you like. All that I have is yours." Iolaus gazed at the guileless blue eyes that were looking up at him. They were deep and clear, unclouded by Hercules' usual cares and unmasked by the demigod's usual assertion of dominance.
A radiant grin flashed across Iolaus' face. "I accept your offer, Herc. Now get those clothes off so I can try out these new toys of ours." Iolaus pulled off his own clothes as well. "Now show me you mean it, Herc. Show me you want it."
Hercules dropped to his knees in front of Iolaus, bending to place a reverent kiss on the head of Iolaus' cock. He looked up, the deep pools of his blue eyes concealing nothing. "May I?" he asked softly.
Iolaus felt a rush of emotion flood his heart, drain his lungs, and swell his cock. Hercules almost always just took what he wanted from the blond hunter--asking, in such a respectful way, to pleasure him was something new. "Yes, you may," said Iolaus, once he could restore a modicum of firmness to his voice.
Iolaus was always grateful when Hercules went down on him--the demigod's lips and tongue were as strong as the rest of him and capable of exerting a firm pressure that overwhelmed Iolaus with pleasure. But this time was different. Hercules was taking his time, carefully prolonging Iolaus' pleasure with meticulous attention. His tongue forged a trail up the underside of Iolaus' cock, swirled around the head, then returned to the same path over and over again. Iolaus trembled with arousal. When Hercules began sweeping over Iolaus' balls with his tongue, exploring them with a touch that was just firm enough, Iolaus grabbed two handfuls of Hercules' hair for support. Hercules smiled slightly to himself around the testicle that filled his mouth, and raised up his hands to support Iolaus' hips without missing a beat, his teeth lightly grazing the sensitive flesh. Finally, he enclosed Iolaus' cock with his mouth in one smooth movement. His head moved as he slid a hot wet channel along that engorged member, almost releasing it before inhaling the whole of it again, his lips forming a tight O and his tongue wrapping itself around as much of the silky wet flesh as it could. When Iolaus began to moan louder and louder, Hercules sucked all the harder, and suddenly Iolaus thrust hard into his lover's mouth, pouring a hot stream of his essence down Hercules' receptive throat.
Iolaus swayed, but Hercules retained his firm grasp on his hips. When his breathing had steadied, Iolaus said, "You've convinced me you want it Herc. On the bed, on your back, now!" Hercules obeyed, his eyes widening slightly. He had so naturally assumed the upper hand, and Iolaus had always been so intoxicated by his strength, that he hadn't really considered that Iolaus might also crave to be in charge. Whenever they did switch roles, Hercules could never submit for long--he invariably used his far greater strength to reassert his position. Now, he was truly placing himself in Iolaus' hands for the first time, and they both knew it. Whistling cheerfully, Iolaus arranged Hercules to his liking with the restraints Hephaestus had forged. He locked Hercules' wrists to the head of the bed, then pushed the demigod's legs wide apart, pressing so they bent slightly at the knee. The cuffs closed around Hercules' ankles with a satisfying snick, and Iolaus locked a short length of chain to the bed frame on either side, forcing Hercules to remain spread wide open and accessible.
"Try and get loose," ordered Iolaus tersely.
Hercules strained at his restraints, but to no avail. "I can't," he whispered.
"How does that make you feel?" asked the hunter, surveying his bound prey with a smile.
"Um . . . scared . . . and safe at the same time. I . . . trust you, Iolaus."
"Yes, you must," murmured Iolaus softly, as the magnitude of what Hercules was offering him began to sink in. For the son of Zeus to place himself in a situation where his strength could not free him--particularly after the disaster of his short marriage to Serena--was to accept a vulnerability that cut to the very core of his sense of himself. "You're beautiful, Herc." Iolaus grinned, "you look good enough to eat, but I have other plans for you."
Iolaus sat on the bed, his head cocked slightly to the side. "You know something, Herc," he mused. "All these years and years I've known you, and I've never had the opportunity to discover whether you're ticklish. Somehow it wasn't worth a broken bone to find out."
"Well . . . I'm not," asserted Hercules firmly.
"Like Hades, you aren't!" exclaimed Iolaus, before putting his theory to the test. His quick hands fluttered furiously over the demigod's body, diving under his arms, skittering down his sides, and making passes at the backs of his knees and the soles of his feet. Hercules squirmed and struggled, desperately trying and failing to escape Iolaus' tormenting fingertips, and he shook with helpless laughter. He didn't think anyone had tickled him since he was a young child, when Iphicles had tried and had found himself flung across the yard for his pains. It was awful, and he hated it, and he wanted Iolaus to STOP, but his helplessness sent a flood of delirious warmth down all his veins, all converging on his cock. When Iolaus did stop, and Hercules was gasping for breath, the cuffs felt secure around his wrists and ankles and he gazed up at Iolaus with a look of pure worship.
"You can do anything, anything you want with me," he whispered urgently.
"I know," said Iolaus, "and I intend to." He emphasized his words by laying a hand on Hercules' throat, pressing lightly and stroking along it with his thumb, while Hercules' swallowed against the pressure of his hand. Not moving his hand Iolaus covered Hercules' mouth with his own, and Hercules strained upward to admit his lover's tongue further inside. Breaking the kiss, Iolaus began exploring Hercules' body with a leisure that was new to his experience. He sucked an earlobe into his mouth, nibbling on it carefully, while one hand mapped the contours of biceps swelling into slightly more prominent definition from the position in which Hercules' arms were bound. Hercules exhaled a slow, shuddering breath. Iolaus' deliberate attentions began slowly igniting his body a part at a time. The lips and teeth teasing his earlobe were maddening; he craved a rougher touch, but there was nothing he could do about it. Iolaus, for his own part, was relishing the firmness of the bulging muscles under his fingers. He moved his attentions to Hercules' throat, licking a path up from his collarbone, almost to his chin, stopping to close his teeth on the demigod's Adam's apple and moving back down to trace circles in the tempting hollow with his tongue.
Iolaus shifted, allowing his tongue and fingers to roam all over Hercules' chest and abdomen, sweeping along the cords of muscles, circling the swell of pectorals, ever approaching, but never touching the yearning nipples, and sending the demigod into a spasm of wriggling with a teasing probe of the navel. He was relentlessly methodical. Every rib had to be defined with a brush of the fingers; it seemed every curl of the covering of dark hair had to be twirled on a tongue or wound around a fingertip. "Io-laus . . . " Hercules breathed, half-ecstatic and half-tormented by the hyper-awareness that the hunter was bringing to seemingly every finger's breadth of his body.
Iolaus sat up, a teasing grin on his face. He began pulling and twisting Hercules' nipples, again with an infuriating deliberateness, and said, "Ah, Herc, you tease me like this all the time, not letting me come until I'm practically, if not actually, in tears with frustration. Well, I'm giving you a taste of your own medicine with an added twist, as you'll find out soon enough. Remember the few times I tried to do this to you before, Herc? What happened when you got frustrated?"
"I flipped you over on your knees and fucked you," admitted the demigod, half-arrogantly and half-sheepishly.
"Well, you can't do that now, can you? How you like them apples?"
"A . . . lot," Hercules answered with a lift of his eyebrows and a conspiratorial smile at his tormentor.
"Good," said Iolaus decisively, "because you won't be getting any relief any time soon." As he spoke he continued to pinch and twist Hercules' nipples, until they were tingling and throbbing with sensitivity. He moved down and began meditatively flicking Hercules' cock with his finger, musing aloud, "Now what should I do with this?" His finger lightly grazed Hercules' anus, moving in teasingly light circles, while his tongue danced along Hercules' cock, its swirling, dipping, and travelling punctuated by the occasional nip of the teeth.
Then Iolaus did something Hercules didn't expect. He unlocked his hands from their cuffs. "You want to prove yourself to me, Herc?" he asked.
"Uh-huh," said the demigod firmly, his eyes wide.
"Well you're going to offer yourself up to me in a way you never have before. And you're going to do everything I say."
"Yes, Iolaus," said Hercules happily, his eyes shining with anticipation and an edge of nervousness. What *did* Iolaus have in mind?
"You're not the only one who's been shopping for toys. In fact you can thank Xena for the tip." Iolaus unwrapped a nondescript looking parcel that had been shoved in a corner of the room, pulling out a large, smooth, carved phallus with a convenient handle for gripping.
"I'll have to thank Xena all right," said Hercules in a tone that suggested Xena might not appreciate the means of being thanked. "What do you intend to do with that?"
"Oh, it's not what I'm going to do with it, Herc. It's what you're going to do, my love. I don't just want to see you bringing yourself off; I want to see you making love to yourself--for me." Iolaus fetched a vial of oil and settled himself, cross-legged, between Hercules' thighs. "Your hands are free, Herc," he continued, his voice husky with urgency. "You could probably get me to get you out of those ankle cuffs. Are you going to assert yourself, or are you going to give up control to me? We both know it's up to you."
"I'm all yours, Iolaus," said Hercules softly.
Iolaus flashed a grin. "Good. Well. Let me get you started." He applied oil to the phallus in a brisk and businesslike manner, then coated two of his fingers and slid them inside Hercules, working to lubricate and stretch the tight passage. Then he withdrew his fingers and pressed the tip of the phallus to the opening to Hercules' body.
"You can go ahead," Hercules whispered.
With care, Iolaus pushed the phallus inside Hercules' ass, watching it slowly disappear inside his lover's body. "It's all yours now," he said casually, gesturing toward Hercules' right hand. "But don't even imagine you're allowed to come."
"Wouldn't dream of it," said Hercules, closing his hand around the handle. He flushed. Iolaus had latched on to his vulnerabilities as effectively as Xena had. To touch himself, pleasure himself like this with Iolaus' bright eyes watching his every move and response was deeply thrilling and unnerving at the same time. It had been easier to submit to the Conqueror. This was Iolaus, and Hercules had had a lot invested in his position as the dominant partner, the one with the vastly superior strength who could effortlessly and efficiently bend Iolaus to his will. Now his physical strength was irrelevant; all he could do was offer himself up to Iolaus with the strength of his willingness to surrender, to be the vulnerable one.
"Go slow," said Iolaus, trying not to let his astonishment at Hercules' willingness to comply reveal itself. "I want to see every finger's breadth of that cock as it slides out of you and back in again."
"Yes, Iolaus," murmured Hercules, shifting himself to allow himself greater ease of access. He could feel himself yielding under his lover's hungry scrutiny, and the intensity of Iolaus' blue-eyed gaze told him that he was making an impression. As ordered, he began fucking himself slowly with the phallus, both flushing in humiliation and glorying in his exposure. Each deliberate stroke ignited a slow burn inside him, and each withdrawal of the phallus left him aching with need. His cock was hard with desire, and he wanted to make that slow burn inside him flame out with hard, fast, battering strokes, but he had to control the impulses that were making their way down his body in waves. He adjusted his grip on the handle of the phallus, feeling himself press himself open with the rounded head, feeling it widen a fiery channel inside him, nudging his prostate in a way that sent waves of pleasure radiating throughout his body, and then sliding out again, making him grit his teeth with frustration. And again, and again, and again, the same tortuous slow path of mounting arousal and frustration.
As Hercules' breathing quickened, and a fresh sheen of sweat glistened on his body, Iolaus said abruptly. "Enough of that." He took the handle in his own hand, buried the phallus deep inside Hercules, and held it there. "I want to see you touching your chest and your belly--really touching them, like a lover. I want you to offer all of that glorious musculature to my eyes--and see for yourself what all the fuss is about," concluded Iolaus with a wry smile.
Hercules complied, placing his hands flat on his belly, fingers splayed, then drew them inward slowly, tracing the ridges of his own muscles. He explored his chest and abdomen in a way he hadn't since he was a teenager, peering anxiously into a mirror and scrutinizing, with his eyes and hands, whatever he might have to offer a future lover and hoping it would pass inspection. He felt both peaceful and aroused in a way that was quite new to him, as the phallus inside him seemed to throb and burn, sending pulsations to his ever-hungrier cock. But at the same time, he felt a calm certainty that he was giving Iolaus pleasure and giving him a gift that would strengthen the bond between them in an entirely new way. And besides that, it just felt good--his own warm hands gliding over his sweat-slick flesh. He was the last person in the world to peacock over his own physique, but forced to explore it, he had to admit that his own muscles felt pretty good under his fingers, firm, and knotted, and humming with reined-in power and strength.
Iolaus seemed to have stopped breathing, so transfixed was he by the sight before him. Speaking as if in a trance, he finally said, "Now your nipples. Play with them."
Hercules took in his own breath slightly, as his fingers closed on his own nipples, already sensitive from Iolaus' earlier rough treatment. At first, he circled them tightly with one finger each, then began rolling them between his thumb and forefinger on each hand. If Iolaus had been hoping to make him even more aroused, this was having the desired effect. A fork of lightning seemed to flash from each nipple to his cock. "Do that thing you do to me--where you increase the pressure," demanded Iolaus, his voice rough and eager. "I want to see you hurt yourself."
Can I? thought Hercules to himself. He pinched each nipple with a steadily increasing pressure, but noticed that Iolaus' free hand, as of its own volition, had strayed to his own chest and was roaming there restlessly. Hercules' question was soon answered--yes, he could hurt himself. His nipples pulsed and burned, and he groaned loudly, wondering if continued pressure would set his nipples literally on fire. Jittery ripples of tension were rocketing through his arms and stomach and legs. He wanted to come so badly he was shaking, but that desire was secondary to pleasing Iolaus.
A long moan of desire and pain escaped his throat, and Iolaus mercifully said, "Stop. Here, coat your hands." Iolaus handed him the vial of oil, and Hercules still breathless from the delicious throbbing in his nipples, quickly obeyed. "Take your time," noted Iolaus. "I'm enjoying watching you--I can't tell you how much. Touch your balls first. I'll tell you when to move on." Hercules' fingers strayed over his balls as Iolaus had ordered. He weighed them and examined their roundness with his fingers, then began a slow massage, pressing just hard enough to send twinges of sensation into his cock. He panted and gasped; each flash of sensation set him on fire, building the pressure within him inexorably.
I can't stand this, he thought to himself. I have to come. I have to get those cuffs off my ankles and get out of this ridiculous position. The muscles in his legs were beginning to twitch and jump from being held apart for so long, and Hercules was tossing his head restlessly on the pillow, irritated by the rivulets of sweat that were soaking it and running in ticklish, wavering lines down his body. No, he corrected himself. I'm doing this for Iolaus. I'm doing this because I have to give myself to him. Again, he consciously yielded, and again, Iolaus saw it. Hercules' body perceptibly relaxed, and he looked Iolaus steadily in the eye, as if saying, "Look what I'm doing for you. Know that I would do anything for you." But there was also just the faintest dangerous gleam of planned revenge.
Iolaus apparently saw and understood it all, for he nodded in understanding and smiled. He and Hercules always did communicate better without words. "OK," he said, his voice tight with awe and lust. "Your cock. But slowly. Just make a circle of your thumb and forefinger." Hercules did as he was told, sliding the circle up and down his aching, needy member. The long-desired contact made him shudder with delirium, but he maintained the steady pace Iolaus seemed to want. His anus was contracting on the phallus inside him, and he didn't know how much longer he could hold out. Maybe if he tried thinking about the Hydra . . . or Graegus. No, he was giving his mind and soul up to Iolaus too--he would stay here in the present and exercise all the self-control Iolaus required of him.
"I-I've always been . . . yours," he gasped. "I just didn't . . . understand."
"I know," said Iolaus. He leaned over to kiss Hercules hard, one hand still holding the phallus inside him. "Give me your hand," he ordered. Hercules held it out, still looking Iolaus steadily in the eye. Iolaus poured a dollop of oil onto Hercules' palm and said, "OK, Herc, go for it. Come for me."
"All . . . for . . . you!" grunted Hercules as he grasped his cock and began milking it with all the vigor he could stand. At the same time, Iolaus began fucking him with the phallus, and he was assaulted by cascades of sensation, burning him, flaying him, stripping him raw, and turning him inside out. "I-O-LAUS!" he howled, his hips thrusting furiously, and his hand pumping the seed out of his engorged and throbbing cock as it splashed his stomach and chest. His chest heaved, as he gulped for air, and tears spilled from his eyes, and he didn't notice Iolaus unlocking the cuffs on his ankles.
Iolaus scooped a handful of semen off his lover's body and said, "On your hands and knees, Herc, NOW!"
Hercules flipped himself over before he even consciously registered the words. As the waves of red began to clear from his vision, he glanced back to see Iolaus spreading his own cock with semen. A moment later, he felt Iolaus inside him, taking him, fucking him, claiming him, hands gripping his hips with a painful urgency. Iolaus drove into him brutally, and Hercules flung his hips back, meeting each thrust with equal strength. They rocked together in a violent rhythm until Iolaus flung his head back and yelled, and Hercules felt himself flooded with his lover's seed.
Now Iolaus was in tears as well, murmuring how beautiful Hercules was when he surrendered himself, and how much he loved him, and Hercules was reciprocating the sentiment, saying, "I'm yours Iolaus, as much as you are mine."
* * *
Later, bathing together in a nearby stream, by moonlight, Iolaus pulled Hercules close for a kiss and said, "The cuffs were a lovely idea, Herc, and I intend to make use of them--you're heartstoppingly stunning in chains, my love--but we really didn't need them, did we?"
"No," said Hercules with a warm smile. "I never realized what I was missing--and what I was holding back from you, Iolaus. I've learned . . . a lot."
"Well, I owe the Conqueror a debt of gratitude," said Iolaus with a merry grin.
"Yes, we both do," murmured Hercules. Then he turned to Iolaus, and swept him up out of the water and into his arms. "Just don't get too used to being on top, my love. I used . . . to be afraid that if I really surrendered, I wouldn't be able to find my power again. But I'm pretty sure that isn't the case."
"Maybe, Herc, we should find out," said Iolaus softly, yielding his body to the strong arms that held him . . .
Hercules woke up the next the next morning, smiling at the sight of the tousled blond head of his sleeping lover and at his memories of the night before. He glanced upward and said quietly, "You didn't win, Ares. Not only do I have Iolaus back," he stroked the golden curls with a possessive confidence, "but Xena is back where she belongs, with her Gabrielle, and you've given me the opportunity to learn some lessons I'll honor the rest of my life. I never thought I'd say this, brother, but . . . thank you."
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