Fever Dream 2

By Nephele

Disclaimer: I asked for them for my birthday, but they still arenít mine, darn it. Anybody who thinks I make money doing this should beware of swamp land salesmen.

This won't make a lot of sense unless you've read the first story Fever Dream

Most people think Iím brave. Iím not. Itís just that itís so rare that anyone or anything gets the better of me... It never occurs to me that I might lose. Thatís not bravery, itís luck. Bravery is doing something even though you know you may fail. Iím a coward.

I was going to talk to Iolaus the next time he woke up. Iíd planned to confess my new found feelings for him. I was excited, looking forward to it. Then he did wake up and I lost my nerve. The moment our eyes met and I saw that his were finally clear and lucid, I got scared. A thousand Ďwhat ifsí ran through my mind in that instant.

I wanted to ask him if he loved me. Instead, I asked if he was hungry. I wanted to take him in my arms and kiss him until we were both gasping for breath. All I did was help him sit up and give him some soup.


The rest of the day crawled by. There just wasnít anything much to do. Iolaus got annoyed. heís never been a good patient and my distractions didnít help his temper one bit. By the end of the day we were both snapping at each other. My anger at myself caused me to go too far. I donít remember exactly what I said to him. I do know that I called him ungrateful and informed him that he wasnít worth the trouble. Not true, but thatís what I said.

The raw hurt in his eyes robbed me of my powers of speech. If only that had happened a few minutes earlier! He stared at me for a moment, as shocked as I was at my words. Then he fled, or tried to. He only got as far as the doorway before I caught him. He pulled away, still trying to leave so I threw my arms around him, hugging him tightly.

I kept whispering ĎIím sorryí over and over. I donít think he heard me. He was trying to get free. I had his arms trapped at his sides so he started kicking me. Eventually my Ďsorriesí tuned into Ďstop its.í He didnít. If anything, his struggles grew more frantic. At one point, his forehead connected sharply with my shin causing me to bite my tongue pretty badly. Iím sure it was an accident but at the time I wasnít thinking to clearly. I threw him down onto our blankets and dropped on top of him. I was straddling his hips. Iíd kept his arms pinned to his sides. My hands were on his shoulders pushing him hard against the ground. We were both yelling but I have *no idea* what either of us were saying.

All at once my anger just disappeared. I froze, noticing for the first time what I was doing. I leapt up and backed away. At the time, I couldnít figure out how weíd ended up in that situation though I was pretty sure it was my fault.

The exertion had been a bit too much for Iolaus. He *was* still sick. he started coughing and couldnít seem to stop. I was at his side in an instant. I started rubbing his back in easy circular strokes, trying to calm him. He finally got it under control and I passed him the water skin. After whispering thanks, he took a careful sip. We sat in silence for a few moments, just trying to calm down.

We both started talking at the same time. It made us laugh a bit. Then he gestured for me to go first. I told him I was sorry and that I had no idea what had come over me. He said that *he* knew why I was upset. He shouldnít have kissed me and he hadnít meant to. He went on to say he hoped I could just forget about it and weíd go back to normal but heíd understand if I didnít want him around anymore.

His heart was breaking. I could see it happening. See what cowardice gets you? You not only hurt yourself but everyone around you as well.

He had more to say, more self-recriminations and apologies. I stopped his words with a kiss. He looked so stunned, it was all I could do not to laugh. Somehow I didnít think heíd have taken it well if I had.

After a moment he seemed to shake himself out of his shock. He pulled me in for another kiss. Heís ... good at kissing. That wasnít a surprise, really. Iíd seen him in action before but this was the first time Iíd been on the receiving end. Iím no poet. I canít describe it adequately. It was a revelation. Unfortunately it ended abruptly when he was hit by another coughing fit.

I held him until he stopped, once again rubbing his back. When his cough quieted again I tucked him into the blankets and set about making some more tea. I knew he was feeling better when he complained about the taste and I couldnít hide my smile. He asked what was so funny. I told him I loved him. He said he loved me too and snuggled against me to sleep.

Life is good.

I decided to spend one more day in the ruins. Iolaus' cough had me nervous. I wanted him to rest. He grumbled about it but his complaints lacked any real feeling.

We were at that awkward stage. We knew our relationship was changing and we both welcomed the change. Neither of us was sure how much or how quickly it was changing. I've never been very good at talking about my feelings and Iolaus is more inclined to crack jokes. Sometimes though, he can be serious, certainly more often than I am. So it was kind of surprising that I was the one that started the discussion.

It was so strange. I've never talked about this sort of thing with someone I knew so well before. Actually, I'd never really had a conversation like this at all. Never before have I needed to ask someone what his 'intentions' were. We joked a lot but eventually we worked through it all.

He loved me. Well, I knew that by now. What I mean is, he was *in* love with me. He wanted to be my lover. He caviled a bit when I asked him how long he'd felt like that. I never did get a straight answer out of him but it had been quite a while apparently, years in fact. I was amazed. He'd hidden it so well, or maybe I was just too clueless to notice. Probably a bit of both. So, we established that we both felt the same way. Now all we had to do was figure out what we wanted to do about it.

That sounds stupid. We wanted to be lovers so we should just do it, right? It really was a bit more complicated. I'd never known of Iolaus being with another man and my own experiences were long ago and not a good model to build on anyway. I couldn't bring myself to ask him anything specific. I kept dancing around things. I don't remember a time when I've felt more awkward.

Fortunately, Iolaus came to my rescue. He's the brave one of us two, no doubt about it. He told me that he was experienced and could teach me if I wanted. Obviously I am clueless. How did I miss noticing? I decided to ask instead of wondering this time.

He'd been very careful it seemed. He had been so sure that I would be disgusted by his activities. He'd gone to great lengths to make sure I didn't find out. I kind of got the feeling that a few of his past encounters were unpleasant. When I suggested that, he denied it but it was a case of protesting too much. I kept pushing him. Finally, he asked me to just drop it. He looked so sad and weary but there was one more thing I had to say. I apologized first. Then I explained why I wanted to know. I was afraid of hurting him. Not emotionally, I 'd already done that. No, I was worried about hurting him physically.

That surprised him. He was quick to reassure me though. He said he knew I'd never hurt him deliberately and promised to tell me if I did so accidentally. Then he asked why I was so worried.

I told him. I'd never told anyone about Hylas before. The first man, well boy really, that I'd fallen in love with. He was beautiful. Dark where Iolaus is fair but just as energetic. I think I fell in love with him the moment I saw him. Gods, we were both so young. He was fourteen. I was older but only by about a year. Like teenagers everywhere, we thought we knew everything. And like so many other teenagers, we found out the hard way just how wrong we were.

We'd been fooling around right from the start, touching each other, that sort of thing. Nothing too heavy, just fun. Did I mention that he was my first lover? I was his too.

I loved touching him. I'd never had such intimate contact with another's body before. I was fascinated by all the little differences and similarities between us. I wanted to memorize every inch of him. I had it bad. I suppose that's why I got so carried away that last time.

It all started with a war or rather, the end of one. There were small bands of soldiers passing through daily, veterans returning home. Hylas and I found this great spot near a window of the tavern. We could hear everything and unlike the times we'd tried to sit inside, no one bothered driving us off. Whenever we could, we used to sneak off to listen to their stories.

On this occasion, those inside fell to talking about their sexual conquests. They did a lot of lying but in our youth, we didn't realize that.

One of the soldiers started telling a story. He was with a small scouting party. They had been out on their own for a while when they came upon a youth out setting snares. I know now that what he described next was rape but he made it sound like a seduction. I was too naive to know the difference. He went in to some depth but he was describing a conquest not teaching a class on lovemaking. He left out some very important details. He went on at length about how much the boy had loved it, screaming out his pleasures. I was only fifteen and I'd led a sheltered life for the most part. That's not an excuse, just an explanation. Now I know that poor young man was screaming for an entirely different reason.

Hylas and I had both gotten pretty hot listening to those stories. We decided to sneak away to our favorite hideout and let off a little steam. Everything was fine at first. We just did what we usually did. I couldn't get that soldier's words out of my head though. His description of how wonderful it felt to be buried to the hilt in that boy's ass had me enflamed. I *had* to try it.

To my eternal shame, I didn't even ask Hylas if it was okay. I just turned him over and with all the grace and patience of a teenager forced my way in. It did feel good, amazing, and Hylas screamed. If I thought at all, and I'm not sure I did, I probably took his sounds as screams of joy. It felt so fantastic from my side. It never even crossed my mind that he might feel differently.

It was over pretty quickly. I worked myself to orgasm in only a few strokes. And what an orgasm! I pulled free and collapsed on my back. I finally looked at him then. The sated smile I wore faded when I saw his tears. His face was twisted into an expression of anger, grief and betrayal. I reached for him, intending to ask what was wrong but he flinched away. He was on his feet an instant later, running off into the forest. I called after him but if he heard me, he didn't answer.

It wasn't until after he'd left that I noticed the blood.

I spent the rest of the day and most of the night searching for him. I couldn't find any traces. He might as well have been snatched up by a nymph or something. I went home and slept for a few hours but was back out searching by first light. I told anyone who asked that we'd had a fight and I'd accidentally hurt him. That was as close to the truth as I dared get. I continued searching for days. Any traveler who passed through was questioned thoroughly. Nothing came of it.

I never saw Hylas again. To this day I donít know what happened to him after he left our clearing. I hope he found a good life and a lover who treats him as he deserves. On my darker days, I think perhaps he bled to death and left his bones in some secluded part of the forest.

I never again took a male lover.

Iolaus was silent for a long time after I'd finished my story. He just held me tight and stroked my hair soothingly. I couldn't take the suspense. I begged him to say something, anything. He shushed me and said everything was all right. He just didn't know what to say. He said he wished he could take the pain away but knew he couldn't. All the while he kept holding me, trying to comfort me. I let him.

We fell asleep that way. My dreams were full of Hylas and our last day together. Sometimes, when I looked up at the end, it was Iolaus' face I saw. Each time the dream woke me, I'd find him murmuring softly and stroking me in a calming manner. Eventually I fell into a dreamless sleep.

The next morning I tried to go back to normal. This was the day we'd decided to get back out on the road. After a quick breakfast, we started gathering our things together. It didn't take long despite the fact that I'd decided to hang on to the blankets and one or two other things. We were on our way about an hour after dawn.

The day passed normally enough. I set an easy pace not wanting Iolaus to push himself too much. I know him too well. He'd collapse in exhaustion before he admitted he needed to rest. As I said, it was a normal day. Normal for us lately means getting ambushed at some point. This day was no exception. They were just you average band of cutthroats. They demanded our money. Iolaus suggested that if they surrendered now, no one would get hurt. They responded by attacking.

It didn't take long. They ended up fleeing and I decide to let them. Once they were gone. Iolaus had another little coughing fit but it wasn't as bad as the previous ones.

That was the only incident. The rest of our journey was blissfully bandit free. When we settled down for the night, I fussed a bit. Iolaus complained naturally, calling me a mother hen. When I explained that I was just worried that he wouldn't be warm enough, he invited me to keep him warm. He wore such a ridiculous leering expression when he said that. I couldn't help laughing. He acted insulted at my reaction, so I tried apologizing. He refused to accept that and... Well it all got pretty silly. Before long we were lying side by side laughing uncontrollably.

Then, it was the strangest thing, we were laughing and we looked at each other. Suddenly we were both completely serious. I felt this overwhelming desire, need sweep through me. It was frightening in its intensity. I'd never felt anything like it before. I still don't remember who made the first move. We were in each other's arms and I was kissing him as though my life depended on it. If someone had ask me just then, I'd have said it did. Iolaus was giving as good as he got. We didn't break apart until we were both faint with lack of air. Iolaus recovered a little faster than I did. Even so, all he managed to say was 'wow'. I could only nod in agreement.

The fear surface again. I'm not sure what I was afraid of, me hurting him, someone else hurting him to get to me or even him hurting me somehow. I still don't really know. It's probably a combination of all those things. Whatever, in that moment it overwhelmed me and I knew I had to get some distance between us fast. Hurt him a little to avoid hurting him a lot, or to keep him from hurting me. I pulled away, looked him right in the eye and told him I'd have to find myself a woman in the village we got to.

He just stared at me for a moment. He was probably trying to figure out if I was joking or not. Then I saw all the light and joy fade from his eyes. Just like that, I'd destroyed it. Gods, what was I thinking? That's a rhetorical question. I *know* what I was thinking. I needed to protect myself at any cost. When Hera killed my family it almost destroyed me. Serena's murder was nearly as painful. Yeah, I said nearly. I did love her, I did. It's just that Deianeira and I had more time together and of course there were our children. The loss was understandably greater.

That's what had me so scared. I'd known Iolaus longer than either of my wives and the feelings Iíd discovered for him were stronger. I finally understood what people meant when they talked about 'soul-mates'. How could I ever survive if I lost him? I couldn't. In the twisted logic of m mind, I figured it was better to drive him away now than risk really losing him later. So...

Once Iolaus realized I wasn't just teasing, he muttered something like 'me too' and rolled over. He settled facing away from me and pretended to fall asleep. I doubt he slept much that night. I know I didn't. I spent the time arguing with myself. I was angry with myself for hurting him like that. That was countered by the argument that this was better than Hera or Ares killing him later. But, my honest side pointed out; they'd already tried and in Hera's case, succeeded in killing him. How did this really change things? Iolaus had always been a target. If I drove him away then I wouldn't even be able to protect him, not that my protection had proven very good so far.

Dawn broke while my internal debate continued. Iolaus hadn't moved an inch all night. We broke our fast in silence, neither of us eating much. As soon as we'd finished, we packed up and got back out on the road. The silence quickly became oppressive. He wouldn't look at me. Most of the time, he wouldn't even walk next to me. He trailed behind. I had to keep looking back to make sure he was still there.

I couldn't take it anymore. It hurt too much, for both of us.

Iolaus was behind me again so I just stopped and waited for him to catch up. I think he would have just continued past me and on down the road if I hadn't put out a hand to stop him. Even then, he just stood in wounded silence waiting for me to let go. I told him we needed to talk. For the first time that day, he looked at me. He looked so tired, defeated. I felt a sharp pang of guilt at the sight.

I made my decision right then. I knew I couldnít drive him away completely. I wasnít that strong. We couldn't continue like this either, both miserable. I'd have to do something really brave and risk being happy.

I told him I was sorry and pulled him in for a hug. He stood stiffly in my arms at first so I kept talking, telling him I hadn't meant what I'd said about needing a woman. I admitted that I'd been scared and explained why. Gradually as I spoke, he relaxed and I felt his arms come up to circle my waist.

We stood that way for quite a while, just holding each other. Finally Iolaus pulled back to look at me. He studied my face carefully. I guess he was satisfied with what he saw there because he said he forgave me. He also said that this was the last time. I'd hurt him pretty badly and he told me that if I pushed him away again, he'd go. This was my last chance.

I just nodded, accepting his terms. I told him I loved him then I kissed him. It wasnít simple, that kiss. It was the opening maneuver in a campaign of seduction. I really had made up my mind at last. Iolaus was mine and I was his. It was time to prove it.

Make no mistake, I was still afraid. Afraid of my need for him and the vulnerable position that put me in and afraid that I might hurt him like I did Hylas. Balanced against all that was an even greater fear, the fear of losing him. I couldn't... I just couldn't.

We made love for the first time that day.

I led him off the road and found a suitably secluded spot. Not that there'd been much traffic but why risk it? I sat down drawing him down with me. Neither of us spoke. I started just toughing him, exploring his face like a blind man. Iolaus answered with caresses of his own. He had this incredulous look on his face like he couldn't believe he was being allowed to touch me.

I know he'd told me he'd wanted me quite some time. It wasn't until that moment that I really believed it in my heart. I felt guilty again. I mean, what right did *I* have to doubt *his* sincerity? He wasn't the one who kept trying to back down from this.

He must have read the look in my eyes because he kissed me gently and told me that it was all in the past. We were starting fresh now and nothing else mattered. I wanted to believe him. I knew I could never completely let go of the past but I'd do my best, for him.

I let him take the lead in our love making that day. I needed to be passive, to lay Hylas' ghost to rest. I think Iolaus understood. It was better than anything I'd imagined. I never honestly expected it to be as satisfying as sex with a woman. Boy, was I wrong. Iolaus wasn't kidding when he said he was experienced. I have to admit I was pretty jealous when I realized just how experienced he really was.

I'd finally learned that bottling up my feelings didn't do either of us any good. So later that evening, I told Iolaus about my jealousy. It was the right thing to do. Yeah, I finally did something right. I guess there's hope for me. He was glad I'd confessed and he reassured me that I had nothing to worry about. He admitted to being promiscuous in the past but only because he couldnít have the one he really wanted. He said it took lots of ordinary people to get his mind off me. I laughed at that. He pretended to be offended but wound up laughing with me.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. We took things nice and slow. Iolaus displayed a tenderness I hadn't seen since he lost his son. I was able to put aside my fears and enjoy being cherished by my friend turned lover.

Since then things have gone pretty well. We're not always so gentle with each other now, sometimes, but no always. When our blood is up, after a fight for instance, our lovemaking is almost violent. I couldn't do that at first but he taught me to let go. He needs it that way sometimes. I can finally admit that I do too. We still argue at times. I'm still bossy when I think I'm right. He's still reckless. I'll never stop being overprotective. Iolaus will never stop flirting. But it's okay because I know he loves me and I hope he knows I love him too.

I think I'll go tell him again, just in case.

The End

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