By Aramis

DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to MCA/Universal and were used without permission. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made

Hercules' voice rang through the stadium. "I declare the new gymnasium officially open."

At that signal, a number of youths appeared and began to demonstrate the various pieces of equipment, such as the vaulting horse, parallel bars and beams. In the centre of the floor, some gave displays of tumbling.

Hercules had remained on the floor, chatting with the officials. They all looked up when the crowd gave a collective exclamation of excitement.

The acrobat who had taken centre floor was far outclassing all others in the daring of his tumbling act. Compact and muscular, he displayed grace and power as he went through his intricate routine, blond curls bouncing. The fact that he had more than twenty years on most of the athletes counted for naught as many of the youths stopped to watch and applaud.

Hercules' heart was in his mouth as he watched some of the dangerous manoeuvres. 'Gods, he'll break his fool neck,' he thought.

Then the hunter grinned mischievously and began a series of fast and high flips, heading directly for the group of officials. The others scattered, but the demigod stood his ground waiting to see what Iolaus planned.

A moment later, he regretted the decision as Iolaus twisted in the air at head height and cried joyfully, "Catch me, Herc!" Hercules reacted automatically and Iolaus landed in his arms.

To some men an armload of hunter would have been a pleasure, but the demigod was full of embarrassment to find himself standing in a public place holding the naked form of his incorrigible friend. He tried to drop the latter like a hot brick, but the hunter managed to fling an arm around his neck and thus cling to him. The crowd broke into laughter at the sight.

"Damn you, Iolaus, let go!" Hercules hissed, his face like a beet-root.

Realizing he was in major trouble, Iolaus quickly obeyed, dropping lightly to the ground and raising a hand in salute to his audience. They responded with clapping and cheers. Then he was surrounded by several youths all seeking advice re gymnastics, or at least, claiming that as a motive, and was borne away by his admirers.

A few hours later, the hunter finally got up the nerve to return to the room he was sharing with the demigod. He hoped that Hercules might have calmed down a bit, but was immediately disabused of that notion. Hercules glared at him and immediately launched into one of his lectures.

As soon as he could manage to interrupt, Iolaus began to apologise, hoping to end the scolding. "I'm sorry, Herc, it just seemed like a good idea at the time," Iolaus said, pretending a contrition he was far from feeling

"Well it wasn't!" the demigod snapped.

"Aw, c'mon, Herc, don't be so grumpy. It *was* funny. You should have seen your face when I landed in your arms." Irrepressible as always, he giggled at the memory.

"Iolaus!" The tone was one of warning, but the obstreperous hunter ignored it.

"And the crowd loved it, Herc."

"Well, *I* didn't!"

"Why not?"

"Surely that's obvious. You might not care about your reputation, but I care about mine."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"People might think ... um ... they might think...." the demigod stammered.

"Might think what?" Iolaus asked innocently, having a very accurate idea what was going through the demigod's head, and as always, wishing it was true.

If possible, Hercules got redder than ever. "That you're my ... my ... my catamite."

Iolaus heard the abusive term with some dismay. 'Why couldn't Herc have said 'lover' instead?' he wondered sadly. However, he pushed the upsetting thought aside and asked, "And what would that have to do with catching me as part of a gymnastics display?"

"You know very well! Clinging around my neck like that was ..."

"What was I supposed to do?" Iolaus interrupted. " Let you dump me on my arse?"

"Why not? It would have served you right."

"You're making a mountain out of a molehill, Herc. It was you who made a big deal out of the whole thing. If you'd treated the whole thing as a joke ..."

"It was *not* funny, Iolaus."


"Wasn't! I don't know what you thought you were doing displaying yourself like that in public."

"Lots of people were on the floor."

"I mean naked."

"What??? Did you not happen to notice that all the athletes were unclad? That's how one dresses, or rather doesn't dress, for gymnastics."

"Well, I didn't like *you* doing it."

"Why not? Don't you think my body's good enough for it?"

"You're too old ..."

"Other's thought my body was fine. I'll have you know I got one or two very flattering offers afterwards."

"Iolaus! I was *not* criticizing your body, just your behaviour."

"Aw, Herc, what's wrong with having a bit of fun?"

"It's time you grew up."

"Got old and staid like you, you mean?"

"Mature and sensible would be a better way to put it."

"Boring would be the most accurate."

Nettled at the adjective, Hercules retorted, "If I'm so boring I'm surprised you bother to tag around after me."

"Tag around?"


"That's how you see our friendship is it?" Iolaus asked, hurt by Hercules' attitude.


"Right, I'll soon remedy that." He snatched up his sword and carry-bag.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"To take up one of those offers I had earlier today. Some people want my company."

"Don't be ridiculous, Iolaus."

"I'm not. I'm sick to death of your bloody lectures!" With that the hunter was off out the door.

He was no sooner out of the door that he was already mentally kicking himself. He had caused trouble again and he knew he was probably going to suffer more than Hercules from his hasty words.

Iolaus had originally just been watching the gymnasts and had decided to join them on the spur of the moment, with no plan to embarrass Hercules. Since their arrival in the city several self-important officials had brushed him aside and had monopolized Hercules' time. It was not the first time that had happened and he knew it certainly would not be the last, but it always hurt and today the generally festive atmosphere had actually made him feel more isolated than ever. Then, watching the youths, he had acted on an impulse to be part of the fun.

'Why does Hercules always have to take things so seriously?' he wondered. 'Sometimes it's like travelling with a maiden aunt ... or a parent. It's a wonder he doesn't stop lecturing and start belting me like my bloody father used to do. I don't know why he always assumes that he knows best and that I'm too stupid to make my own decisions. He's got no damn right to do that. I'll do what *I* want and he can like it or lump it.'

Anger and upset warred within him. To his disgust an errant tear crept unbidden down one cheek. He brushed it away impatiently, ashamed at his weakness. 'I don't need him ... I *don't*. I'll show him.'

He headed down the street to the roughest tavern in the city because he knew the place was bound to meet with the demigod's disapproval.

Several heads turned as he walked in and one or two people called greetings to him. Some had been present at the opening of the gymnasium so it was not long before someone commented about it.

A rather dirty-looking barmaid, with frizzy, unkempt hair, said huskily, "I loved that little display you treated us all to today."

Iolaus blushed slightly, but said, "Thank you."

"You're very ... very ... ah ... athletic, aren't you? I'll bet you know lots of interesting moves." She flicked her tongue across her carmine lips.

Iolaus grinned. "Some," he admitted, "though not as many as you do, I'll bet." He winked cheekily at her, unable to resist responding to her although she did not attract him.

She simpered and batted her eyelashes at him. "I'll be off in a couple of hours. Perhaps we could compare techniques."

"Maybe," Iolaus said, non-committally. He might be mad with Hercules, but not enough to go with her.

"And maybe not," a husky voice breathed in his ear. "You can have better than her."

Iolaus turned to see a statuesque redhead smiling lasciviously at him. Now, she was more in his line and his beautiful azure eyes lit up. He was about to respond, when the barmaid snapped, "Leave him alone, Leuctra. I saw him first."

"We all *saw* him today, Bassola. Indeed, I don't think I've seen anything so *entertaining* in quite some time." As she spoke, she slid her hand inside Iolaus' vest and began to toy with a nipple.

"Ignore her, Blondie," the barmaid advised. "That cheap bitch would go with anyone. You never know what you might catch from her. Anyway she's got work to do."

"W-Work?" Iolaus squeaked, as Bassola's other hand closed on his codpiece. He tried to back up a bit, but was up against the bar.

"Yeah, she's the floor show here. Some tarts will do anything for a couple of dinars."

"Are you a singer?"

"A specialty dancer."


"She means a stripper," Bassola explained nastily.

"Nothing wrong with stripping, is there?" Leuctra purred. "I mean after today's little exhibition you could hardly claim to be opposed to it."

"N-No, of course not."

"Well, I don't perform for an hour or so, so why don't you join me for a few drinks 'til then."

A *few* drinks was hardly the word for it. Leuctra seemed to have heaps of money and Iolaus had scarcely emptied one tankard of the potent brew, when she was handing him another. Soon he was giggling helplessly at her every remark and was no longer embarrassed by her public caresses.

Finally she murmured, "It's time."

"Time?" questioned a very befuddled hunter. "Time for what?"

"My performance."

"Don't go! Stay with me."

"No, I can't, but why don't you help me."


"C'mon." She pulled him to his feet and led him into a space from which the tables had been cleared. Then she clung to him, swaying against him in time to the music.

Nothing loath, the hunter held her against him, one hand caressing her back.

She ran her tongue across his lips and he opened to it. Their tongues began a dreamy duel.

Iolaus felt almost as if he was floating. The room seemed to be swimming around him and the inn's patrons were lost in the sensuous mist that seemed to envelop him. He was totally oblivious to the ripple of excitement that had gone around the room as the patrons saw that the evening's performance bid fair to be even more entertaining than usual.

Leuctra slowly eased the vest from his shoulders and it dropped to the floor. She ran her hands over his smoothly muscled back while the watchers murmured encouragement. Her hands moved down and cupped his buttocks, kneading them and pulling him against her.

He flung his head back as she nipped and licked at his neck, finding the sensitive spot at the junction of neck and shoulder that made him squirm and giggle with pleasure.

As she did this, she slowly turned him so that he was facing away from her and her nimble fingers slid around him and began to undo his belts. Freeing one she drew it across his chest and then around his neck.

Then holding his upper arms, she pushed him gently across the room and then stopped. She continued to hold him and he lent back unsteadily against her softness. Then he felt hands fumbling at his codpiece. Something did not seem right, but he did not know what. He shook his head trying to clear his blurry vision.

"What are you ..." he started.

"Sssh," Leuctra soothed, "everything's all right. All's fine."

He felt a shock of cooler air as his codpiece was opened and then he felt his trousers being eased down. He wondered vaguely how Leuctra could be holding his arms, caressing him and doing that all at the same time? However, thinking was an effort and the hands stroking his body felt good, so he let the thought float away and abandoned himself to enjoyment of the petting.

Then he felt himself being moved again and next he was on someone's lap. The person pushed a hand between his legs and began to fondle him, while breathing raggedly. Someone else pulled off his boots and began to slowly ease his trousers down.

Suddenly, a rather raucous voice that sounded vaguely familiar, cut gratingly through the sensuous haze fogging his mind, and protested, "Leave him alone, Leuctra."

However, someone rudely told her to butt out.

Bassola was furious. She had seen Leuctra use her little potions far too often. Combined with alcohol they greatly increased the speed with which a man became blind drunk. Normally they were employed simply to enable the stripper to more easily deprive her victim of whatever money he had. Bassola usually accepted that, but she had wanted Iolaus for herself and erroneously believed that, had it not been for Leuctra's intervention, she had had a good chance of enticing him to her own bed.

She glanced around, but could see no one who was likely to back her. All the patrons seemed to be greatly enjoying the addition to the floorshow and, from the looks on some of the men's faces, if Leuctra intended to bed the little blond after the performance, if not actually during it, she might find she had a few rivals for the privilege.

Well she was determined to spoil everyone's fun if she could, but how? Then she recalled Hercules. Obviously he would be the one to thwart Leuctra. She knew he was staying just along the street as all the town's inhabitants had been talking interestedly about having a demigod in their midst. Accordingly, she slipped out and hurried to fetch him.

She entered the tavern and asked to be directed to the demigod's room. Recognising her, the innkeeper looked askance at the request. "He won't be wanting a visit from the likes of you. A demigod doesn't have to make do with slags," he commented rudely.

She glared at him. "I'm not here for *that*," she said.

"Just as well, but I don't think he'll want to see you anyway. He's retired for the night. Come back tomorrow."

"It's important!"

"To you maybe, but I don't want you in here. It lowers the tone of my establishment. Take yourself off."

Bassola was so mad that she felt she could scream, and never one to deny her emotions, she did just that while running up the stairs.

The innkeeper swore loudly, vaulted the bar and set off in pursuit.

Hercules flung open the door of his room at the sound of her scream.

He had been sitting in a chair debating what to do since the hunter's precipitate departure. He *knew* he had been in the right when he had reprimanded Iolaus and could not understand why he should feel guilty. Sure he had upset his friend, but Iolaus had embarrassed him in front of dozens of people and fully deserved the scolding. 'Hell, some men would have warmed his backside for him,' Hercules thought. 'He should be grateful that I wouldn't ... wouldn't ...' A mental vision of the naked hunter facedown across his knee formed and he gasped in shock as he realized that a certain piece of his anatomy that was normally well under control began to show a definite interest in the image he had unwittingly conjured up of the creamy buttocks lying across his lap. 'Damn that little ratbag,' he thought, 'now look what he's made me think.' However, neither shame nor anger was enough to banish the very enticing vision.

Thus the scream was all too welcome as it offered a distraction from his wayward imaginings.

He strode out of his room, intending to head downstairs to find out what was amiss, but a woman appeared at the top of the stairs and literally flung herself into his arms.

Before he could elicit an explanation for this, the barkeeper appeared, apologising profusely to him for the disruption while trying to pull the woman away from him. In turn, the woman clung to him, while simultaneously swearing at her assailant and appealing to Hercules to listen to her. Finally, the key word filtered through: "Iolaus".

That galvanised the demigod. "Enough!" he roared.

The command shocked both into silence. Hercules turned to the woman. "What do you want to see me about?"

"It's your friend. He's in trouble."

'When is he not?' the thought came unbidden and unvoiced. "Take me to him!"

"Follow me."

As they hurried along, she managed to say, "It's not his fault..."

'It never is,' thought the demigod grimly.

"... Leuctra slipped something into his drink."

'*Another* woman! When will Iolaus ever stop his skirt-chasing? I wonder if it's an irate husband, boyfriend or father he's fighting this time?' he thought.

"He's in there." She gestured at the rather seedy tavern.

Surprisingly enough, there was no sound of furniture breaking. Indeed, far from the sounds of a fight, he could hear men's voices calling out in happy drunken good humour.

He wondered what he would find when he went in, but never in his wildest dreams could he have anticipated the scene that met his appalled eyes. His jaw dropped open and he did a double take.

His partner was lying on the bar stark naked, with an equally unclad woman sitting astride his thighs, her hands busy between his legs. A couple of the patrons were each holding one of Iolaus' wrists pinned above his head, not so much to restrain him, but rather to keep him from falling off the bar. Indeed, far from showing distress the hunter was grinning vacantly and giggling.

Well, no matter whether Iolaus was enjoying himself or not, the demigod was not going to allow *his* friend to behave in that manner. Hercules began to shoulder his way to the bar. Several men went to protest at the rough treatment, but when they observed that their assailant was not only a demigod but also a dangerously irate one, they fell back.

Leuctra had turned to see what was happened. Seeing the fury in Hercules face, she quickly scrambled off the hunter and dropped down behind the bar. In one smooth motion, Hercules swung his partner over his shoulder and then reached for his discarded apparel. Without a word he stormed out of the bar into one of the back rooms, kicking the door shut behind him, and ignoring the babble of interested speculation that had broken out behind him.

He dumped Iolaus on a table and dropped his clothes down beside him. "Get dressed!" he ordered brusquely.

Iolaus peered owlishly at him. "Herc?" he questioned. "What's going on?"

"Don't play the innocent with me, Iolaus. Just get dressed."

"But what's ..."

He broke off as the door opened and Bassolo slipped into the room. She thrust a bottle at the demigod. "Here! This will help counteract the drug. It should sober him quite fast."

"Thank you." He turned back to the blurry-eyed hunter. "Drink this."

"Not thirsty ... just tired," Iolaus muttered and batted his hand away.

The demigod had had enough. He forced Iolaus' mouth open and poured the liquid down his throat.

Iolaus spluttered, choked and gasped, but could not manage to push Hercules away.

Realising that his friend was in no shape as yet to dress himself, and having no intention of being seen for a third time with an armful of naked hunter, Hercules then set about the awkward task of clothing him. Fortunately, Iolaus kept still and made little protest, but it was still not easy. 'Why does he have to wear such bloody tight leathers?' Hercules wondered irritably, as he dragged them over shapely legs and enticingly rounded buttocks.

Finally, he was ready. He tossed the blond roughly over a shoulder again. "Ow! Put me down, Herc," Iolaus protested sleepily.

Perversely, that was just what the demigod was now determined not to do, as he knew Iolaus hated to be carried. In any case, the little blond was clearly quite incapable of walking.

He stalked back through the bar, determined to face down any comments. As he entered the room, talk died, clearly indicating that he and Iolaus, as was only to be anticipated, had been the topic of conversation.

One man, either drunker or more foolhardy than the rest, reeled into his path. "Where are you taking Blondie?" he asked.

Hercules ignored the question and went to sweep past. The man clutched his arm. "I asked where you're taking him? It's not fair. I was enjoying the show."

"Me too!" another commented, from a safer distance.

"Are you going to take Leuctra's place with him?" a third asked. "Now that would be something to watch."

Men began to laugh, surreptitiously or openly according to their degree of drunkenness and/or distance from the demigod. Hercules began to go red from a combination of intense embarrassment and fury.

"C'mon, let's see you give him a good fucking!" a man called encouragingly.

*That* was it. Hercules lashed out and the man was propelled right across the room, flattening a couple of other patrons who were unlucky enough to be between him and the far wall.

He felt Iolaus try to wriggle free and clamped his hand harder on the hunter's thigh. "Still!" he hissed threateningly. Then he stormed for the door, while men scattered frantically out of his way.

He pounded along the street to the tavern where they were staying and did not stop until he had reached their room. Once in, he dumped Iolaus unceremoniously on the floor. "Stay here!" he ordered, his voice ice-cold. Then, feeling that he was very much in danger of losing control of his temper completely, something that he always feared because of the potentially disastrous consequences that could result from an uncontrolled use of his strength, he stalked out, slamming the door behind him.

Iolaus lay where he was for some minutes trying to sort out exactly what had happened. His head was still spinning and he felt like he was going to be sick. Gradually the antidote took effect and his vision cleared and his nausea decreased. Unfortunately, he kept recalling bits of the evening, and although he was not sure what had led him to behave as he had, he knew only too well that Hercules was bound to be furious with him. Hell, he was not exactly proud of himself!

Eventually, he forced himself to his feet and downed several glasses of water. He wondered if he should go in search of the demigod, but decided against it as he could think of no excuses for his actions and was not ready to face the inevitable lecture.

He lay down on a chair by the bed and waited in trepidation for the demigod's return. Hercules had rarely hurt him physically, and certainly never intentionally, but psychologically was another matter. The normally kind and considerate demigod could be very cutting when he was angry and Iolaus could never recall him being as furious as he now was. For all his tendency to cause trouble for the demigod, Iolaus loved him and hated being in his bad books. He had no idea how he could live if he ever really alienated Hercules.

Well over two hours had passed before Hercules returned and by then the potion had worked and Iolaus was stone cold sober. And cold was the word for it. The blood in his veins had turned to ice as he had sat miserably wondering whether the demigod was going to return at all.

Hercules walked in and started to prepare for bed without a word or even a look to acknowledge the hunter's presence.

Iolaus could not take it. "Herc, I can't stand you giving me the silent treatment. Please say something. Even give me one of your boring .... I mean one of your lectures. Just say *something*. Anything!" he appealed. As he spoke, he reached out and lightly clasped the demigod's arm.

Hercules shook his hand off without even turning to look at him. When he spoke, it was in a tightly controlled voice. "I'm too mad to talk to you yet, Iolaus. I might say something we'll both regret. Just go to bed."

"I won't be able to sleep. Please talk to me," Iolaus pleaded. He would never have begged for attention from anyone else, but he his pride could never outweigh his love for Hercules.

"No!" The demigod folded his arms and turned his back.

"Hit me then!" The words popped out, unplanned, and surprising them both.

"What?" The demigod thought he must have misheard. He swung around and stared at the hunter.

Having got the demigod's attention, Iolaus stuck with it. "Hit me! Punish me and get it over with. Please, Herc!"

"Don't be ridiculous, Iolaus. Of course I'm *not* going to hit you."

"Why not? You *wanted* to. You nearly did. I wish you had. At least you'd be talking to me now."

"Iolaus, for the last time, just shut up and go to bed." He turned away again.

To Hercules' surprise, Iolaus went quiet and then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a boot hit the floor. Surely the hunter was not actually going to obey him. Another thump of a boot followed and then the slap of the heavy leather vest landing. Clearly Iolaus was just carelessly abandoning his clothing on the floor as usual, but at least he was getting ready for bed. Hercules unfolded his arms and relaxed a bit, still keeping his back to the hunter.

Then Hercules started as Iolaus thrust something into his hand. Bemused he realized he was now clutching one of the hunter's belts. "What do I want this for?" he asked, turning around at last.

He did an immediate double take. The first sight that met his eyes was Iolaus' beautiful, creamy arse. The naked hunter had impulsively bent himself over the bed, buttocks raised. "Iolaus, what are you ..." he started uncertainly.

The hunter interrupted. "C'mon, Herc, belt me and get it over with," he urged, "I'm getting cold."

"I-I can't." He was virtually mesmerized by the sight of the creamy buttocks of his fantasy.

"Course you can, Herc. Please just *do* it. It's bloody chilly in here and I'm getting goosebumps."

The demigod swallowed nervously. 'He can't possibly be serious,' he thought. Then he thought, 'I'll bet this is just a ploy to embarrass me into forgiving him. Well, I'll call his bluff.'

With that thought, he raised the belt and brought it down on the hunter's backside. Never having done such a thing to anyone before, he misjudged his blow hitting far harder than he had intended.

The hunter gave a yelp of pain, but remained resolutely in position. However, his thoughts were whirling in shock and upset. In his innermost heart he had never really expected his gentle friend to actually hit him with any intent to hurt. A wave of desolation engulfed him and his eyes misted with tears.

Hercules looked at the angry red mark marring the satin skin and gasped as that recently unruly part of his own anatomy jumped to attention again.

Feeling guilty both at hurting his friend and, even more, at this shameful reaction, he reached for the hunter, swung him to his feet and turned him to face him. The little blond hung his head, shielding his face with his mop of golden curls.

"I-I'm s-sorry, Herc," Iolaus managed.

To his horror, the demigod could see the slender shoulders shaking and realised Iolaus was crying. Fierce possessive, protective love filled him. He wrapped his arms around the little blond and cradled him to his chest. "I'm sorry, Iolaus, I shouldn't have done that. You're the last person I'd ever want to hurt."

That comment, intended to be reassuring, only served to make the hunter sob harder. The demigod stroked his hands down the smooth back. "Iolaus, I'm sorry," he comforted. "Please don't cry. I hate it when you're upset." He sat down on the bed and unthinkingly pulled the hunter onto his lap as he might an upset child.

Iolaus snuggled into his broad chest and clung tightly to him, seeking only warmth and comfort, not daring to dream of anything more. Then, feeling something move against his thigh, he glanced down surreptitiously and spotted his friend's hard-on. 'Hell, Herc'll be embarrassed,' he thought guiltily, feeling worse than ever. 'I'll have to pretend I haven't noticed.'

Actually, in his concern for the little blond, Hercules had temporarily forgotten his arousal. He began to run a comforting hand down Iolaus back, petting him as he might a kitten. He leaned down and buried his face in the hunter's hair, murmuring soothingly.

Listening more with his heart than his ears, Iolaus felt rather than heard the words. Then the word 'sorry' intruded.

"It's not your fault, Herc. It's *all* mine ... as usual," he added dejectedly There was no response. Needing to see Hercules' face, somehow he forced his head up.

As he did so, the demigod looked down at him and without conscious volition their lips met.

At first the kiss was gentle. Tentative. The act of kissing someone was, of course, familiar to both, but the feelings that went with this kiss were unexpected, totally unprecedented.

Heart and pulses racing, Iolaus felt stunned by the passion that assailed him with overwhelming force, but dared not hope that it might be returned.

For his part, the demigod at last admitted to himself, 'I love him' without adding his long-time, self-protective phrase 'like a brother'. A conviction that he had finally stumbled, albeit belatedly, on to a great truth filled him, and as always, having decided that a course of action was right, he was absolutely determined to follow it.

The hunter pulled back, stood up and looked apprehensively at the demigod, expecting to see confusion or, more likely, anger in his face. "Herc?" he whispered unsteadily.

"Yes, my love?" The words had a calm certainty so characteristic of the demigod.

However, scarred by his childhood and so always insecure, and also having long despaired of ever hearing such endearments from the demigod, the little blond gaped. "H-Herc, d-did you say ... did you ..?" He broke off fearful that he had misheard and unable to proceed.

For reply, Hercules simply stood up and opened his arms and Iolaus melted into them.

Iolaus' heart was singing even as the tears sparkled on his lashes. He burrowed into Hercules' chest as if he could never get close enough to him.

He felt strong but gentle fingers raising his chin and then Hercules' lips met his once more. The lips were warm, moist, demanding, yet tender and a tide of sweet helplessness swept over Iolaus as he surrendered to them.

Carefully Hercules began to run his hands down the hunter's body, exploring every part, while he kissed his way around Iolaus' throat. Iolaus forgot everything in the wonder of his touch.

Strong hands cupped his buttocks and lifted him up and onto the bed. He lay back trustingly allowing the demigod to continue his investigation of his body.

For his part, Hercules marvelled at the satin skin and golden beauty of his friend. How could he have been so blind for so long? He ran his fingers lightly over Iolaus' ribs. The hunter giggled and twisted enticingly.

He lent down and nibbled at a small, brown nipple, his tongue flicking teasingly over it. He began to suck, while his hand probed between the hunter's slender thighs, which opened wantonly to him. Iolaus' breathing became harsh, short gasps of need. Writhing and panting, he clung to his beloved tormenter, as his cock grew rock-hard and an unbearable tension built in his exquisitely tortured body.

Without stopping what he was doing, Hercules opened his fly releasing his own cock, climbed onto the bed and positioned himself between Iolaus' thighs. He then slid one hand beneath Iolaus, lifting him, and slowly inserting his middle finger into the tight anus.

Iolaus gasped at the intrusion and started to automatically pull away, but the demigod's other hand moved to his stomach to push him back down again onto the impaling digit.

Then Hercules lay motionless, watching his lover's expressive face as Iolaus' desperation grew. "Please ... Please, Herc," he begged.

The demigod moved his hand down from the blond's stomach and began to run it lightly up the length of Iolaus' straining penis, making him more desperate than ever. Aware of the state of his own erection, Hercules took a firmer hold and began to pump his friend. A few strokes were all it took for Iolaus' world to explode and his scream of pleasure triggered the demigod's release as well. They collapsed in a boneless heap, both breathing raggedly.

Iolaus recovered first and, reluctant though he was for the moment to end, realised that the demigod had become a crushing weight. "Herc!" he whispered urgently. "Please, you're squashing me."

"What?" queried a bemused demigod.

"You're too heavy."

"Sorry." The demigod raised himself slightly and then began to cover the hunter with kisses. One thing led to another and soon both were stickier than ever.

Finally, an exhausted and satiated demigod, looked down lovingly at an apparently equally exhausted and satiated hunter and said fondly, "You know, I seem to recall this was supposed to be a punishment session that taught you a lesson. Why do I have a feeling that something went wrong somewhere?"

"I've no idea," Iolaus replied, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "Nothing went wrong as far as I can see. I'm sure I'll *never* forget this lesson. I think it's a great improvement on the old lecture method. In fact, I'd recommend it to ..."

"... to no-one , my love," Hercules hurriedly interjected, "or I might feel a need to reinforce the early part of the lesson." As he spoke, he smacked the delectable backside lightly for emphasis.

To his amazement, he saw Iolaus' cock start to respond. "Hell, not again!" he exclaimed. "I don't think I'm fit enough to cope with you."

"P'raps you should take up gymnastics," the incorrigible hunter suggested cheekily and giggled, adding, "I've found it has very beneficial results."

The End

In case anyone is wondering about the title, the word 'gymnasium' comes from the Greek word 'gymnos' or 'gumnos' meaning 'naked'. As you will all be aware, athletes of that day competed naked.

E-mail the author c/o Nephele at [email protected]

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