For Love of Steel

Part I


(With a cameo appearance by Euphonius)

I don't own, just seriously mess with them. I make no monies from this.

My usual thanks to Euphonius for editing help, and for allowing me to borrow the character for a while. He wasn't too badly hurt.

"And how was your day, pet?"

Iolaus bit his lip to keep silent.

Aquilla knew he hated that term. "I asked you a question." He smiled, seeing the slave's hands flex in controlled anger.

"I worked in the basement, as usual."

"Still fighting, I see. One day you will learn," the man replied, as he scooted his chair back. "Come, my pretty slave, please me."

Aquilla drew his robes back, and Iolaus' stomach lurched at the sight of the man's erection, but he knew better than to refuse. He had done that in the beginning, when he had first been brought here. He dutifully turned his back to Aquilla and the man bound his arms together using the manacles locked on his wrists. Long past the point of self loathing, he knelt and pleased his master.

Some four weeks earlier, Iolaus had been traveling to help a town somewhere in this area and had stopped here for the night. He was content to stay at his table, eat his dinner and drink his ale. Unfortunately, there were some men who started harassing him. Right up until they called him a runt, Iolaus had held his peace, but that was too much. They had gotten into it, four to one. At first, Iolaus wasn't too concerned, figuring he could take them, but he had miscalculated. All too soon he had been beaten, bloody and then unconscious. He had woken up in a cell, and then, to his total dismay and disbelief, been sold for the damages he had caused.

What the golden hunter didn't know was that Aquilla had seen him come into town that afternoon. He had done some checking and found out the handsome man was just passing through. Aquilla's eyes had widened with surprised amusement as he noted the tavern and made arrangements for the man to get in a fight. He conveniently managed to buy the slave for a gold piece in a private sale.

Iolaus hadn't been able to believe that he had been sold, or that he had been brought here in full ankle and wrist chains under a heavy guard. He tried to explain to both the guards and the jailers before them who he was, but no one listened to him. Finally, one of the guards had had enough of his lip and backhanded him. The new slave's' training had begun.

The next time Iolaus offered even the slightest lip, particularly in the courtyard of this house, he had been mercilessly beaten by the guards, then pinned face first to the ground, with a knee in the small of his back. A richly dressed man came out of the house and Iolaus felt his head drawn back by his hair. The man was tall, with dark hair, broad shoulders, and a smooth gait. He fleetingly reminded Iolaus of Ares, until he saw the man's eyes. Instead of a dark brown, they were steely grey.

"That is Aquilla, slave. Your new master," the guard holding him down explained.

"I am a free --," but Iolaus' sentence was cut off as his face was bounced off the hard packed dirt of the courtyard.

Iolaus stared at the man approaching him with hatred in his eyes, but Aquilla had only smiled and ordered, "Strip him, and have him bathed."

"And then?"

"Amuse yourselves."

Aquilla had seen the anger in the man's eyes, and decided before he even got near him, he would break some of that spirit, or at least have his guards handle it. He had learned that causing physical pain before the "proper" relationship had been established tended to make a promising slave into a cringing idiot.

Iolaus had been raped by the guards of the house for the rest of the night. Not what he would classify as kind, considerate lovers. In the morning, they had had him bathed, washing the blood from his body, and had then taken him to Aquilla, naked, but much more docile than the day before.

"Let me explain the situation to you," Aquilla said. "I own you, fully, legally. You are a piece of property to me, somewhat like a horse."

Iolaus heard laughter from the guards. "He's a pretty good ride, boss."

"Please keep your rude comments to yourself," Aquilla responded, in a bored tone of voice. "If you run, you will be hamstrung. Do you know what that means?" Iolaus nodded. They would cut his Achilles' tendon and he would never walk again. "If you disobey me, you will be punished severely. You will work in my fields and at whatever other tasks I deem appropriate for you, for the rest of your life. Don't think about anyone in this town helping you, because it isn't going to happen. Slavery is legal here." The man met Iolaus' eyes and the anger burnt brightly from the blue eyes. "Do you understand?"

Iolaus nodded curtly. A staff was brought down hard across his back.

"Answer him," came the growled directive.

"I understand," Iolaus replied, through a fat lip. "But you need to understand that I will never stop trying to be free."

"Then you will not live long. Chain him in the cell with the others."

He was taken to the basement and securely chained to a wall. There were probably fifteen men in the cell and although Iolaus tried to encourage them, they only shied away from him. He tried to free himself from the wall, but found the chains too strong.

The next morning, the hunter was dragged back before the man who had bought him.

"You were trying to raise an insurrection against me," Aquilla said, staring at the paperwork in front of him. Oh, this one is going to fight, Aquilla thought to himself as he took in the defiant stance of the small man.

"Slavery is wr--" Another slap across the slave's face silenced him.

Aquilla looked up from his paperwork, "You need to understand something, and I plan to impress it on you in a few moments." Icy grey eyes met Iolaus' glare. "I can order your death and there isn't a person in this household or city that will try to stop me or even question me. You are a slave, whether you like it or not." His eyes narrowed. With an almost bored detachment, he ordered, "Fifteen lashes."

For three days, Iolaus was chained to the wall of the cell where all the slaves were kept. He was fed, his back tended, but no one spoke to him, no one listened to him, and he slowly came to realize he was on his own. On the fourth day, he was taken to Aquilla's study again.

"Slave, have you learned your lesson?"

Iolaus glared at the ground, but nodded his head. If he wanted to survive long enough for Hercules to find him, he figured he'd better play along.

"Good. Have him cleaned up, allow him to rest today and tomorrow take him to the fields."

For a week he was left alone. He slowly regained his strength and did what they asked of him, but one night, he was taken to Aquilla again.

"So you have healed from your time with the guards. Good." Aquilla walked up to him and touched his arms. "He'll be the one tonight. Have him prepared."

Iolaus was bathed and an oil rubbed into his skin, a light linen waistcloth tied around his hips and his hair bound back with a piece of leather. Still in shackles, he was taken to the dining area and forced to kneel behind Aquilla's chair, two guards holding him there.

Then Aquilla had looked at him. "Come my pretty, please me," he'd said, and, just like tonight, he had pulled his robes aside. But on that first night, Iolaus had balked and Aquilla had, with the same detachment he'd shown before, called, "Cassius!"

When his right hand man had approached him, he'd said casually, "Teach the new slave some manners."

"Yes, sir."

Cassius took Iolaus to a room. Although he fought the chains and the guards, he was quickly bound to a ring in the wall. A chain about six inches in length was run between the collar on his neck and the ring and his manacles locked through the ring, leaving him completely helpless and very vulnerable, his face to the wall.

"You have spirit, slave. I'll give you that much," Cassius said, moving around behind the bound man. "I hope the defiance was worth what you are about to go through."

In his peripheral vision, Iolaus caught sight of a wide-banded whip being shaken out. He knew that whip wouldn't break the skin on his back, but it would inflict pain, a lot of pain, and it would rip open the wounds already present. "Don't," he said softly.

"Changed your mind already? You'll do as Aquilla orders?"

"I can't," Iolaus tried to reason. "I --"

His sentence was cut short as the whip connected with his back.

"Aquilla does not tolerate even a moment's hesitation." The whip fell again. Iolaus gripped the ring he was bound to for support. "If he orders you to do something, you will immediately do so." Another stroke. His back was on fire already. "Be it clean his chamber pot, or anything else, to please him. Anything." The hunter rose on his toes as the whip was laid across the backs of his legs. He hadn't been prepared for that. "Aquilla owns you, slave." This time the whip landed across his shoulder. He cried out quietly. "Do you understand?"

"I'll do anything but serve his pleasure."

"Wrong answer, slave!" The whip fell again and Iolaus cried out, tears streaming down his face. "As soon as you understand, nod your head, slave. Until then, I'll continue with this."

Iolaus' mind flew to Hercules. He couldn't betray him that way. He could not submit willingly.

"I can't!" he screamed.

"You will!" came Cassius' response.

Time after time, the whip fell. Iolaus could feel the blood dripping down his back from the previous lash strokes being ripped open. He hung limply from the ring, barely conscious. He wasn't even aware of the fact that he was quietly crying out, begging Hercules to come save him from this torture. But even in this state, Iolaus never spoke his lover's name knowing instinctively that it would only make the situation worse.

"How goes it, Cassius?' Aquilla asked, coming into the room.

"He is stubborn."

Aquilla approached the hunter. He looked at the man's bloody back and decided they could beat this one into the ground and he would not willingly agree to being his body slave. He thought for a moment, then decided to change his tactics. The man could clearly take physical punishment, so he would work on his mind, instead.

"Stubborn, eh? We'll see. Take him to my side room and have him chained face down to the bed, arms to the post."

"Yes, sir."

Iolaus slowly lifted his head and immediately regretted it as his back exploded into pain. He tried to pull his arms down so he could get up, but found them stretched and bound tightly to the bed on which he lay. The cool sheets felt so good against his chest and lower body. He looked left and right and saw he was in rich quarters.

Aquilla or Cassius? he questioned in his mind. Then he tried to get his legs under him. However, the best he could do was to reach the vulnerable position of his ass sticking up in the air. Since all he was wearing was the linen cloth and no breechclout, he decided that was not an improvement over lying on his face. He relaxed back down and examined what he could see of the chains holding him in place. Finally, he gave up. He had no leverage, he doubted he could break three sets of chains on his best day, and he sure as heck was not having a good day.

He must have fallen back asleep, because he jumped as a smooth hand stroked his ass.

"Hello, pet." Aquilla's voice.

"Don't call me that. I have a name," he responded angrily. If he was down to the owner, he might just as well come at it from a strong point of view.

"You have a name only if I think you should," was the calm response. "Cassius said you felt that you couldn't submit to me. Why is that?"

Iolaus looked at Aquilla as he sat down beside him on the bed.

"I -- I am committed to someone," he said, turning his head away. Thoughts of Hercules flashed through his mind.

"Ah," Aquilla responded. He took up a bunch of grapes from a bowl beside the bed and began to eat. "And who would that be, pet? Some pretty little thing with a shapely rear end and a well-endowed chest?"

"No!" Iolaus responded, turning back to the man. "I -- I travel with someone."

"Someone?" Aquilla asked. "You seem reticent to identify this person, so I will assume it's a man." He ate another grape and noticed how the slave's eyes followed his hand. He offered one to the bound man, but he turned his head away again. "My, you are stubborn. Here. Feed yourself." Aquilla put the grape in Iolaus' bound hand and got a scathing glare for his efforts. He laughed again. If he read this one correctly, he would be a real challenge to tame. That thought excited him.

"So there is another man in your life. Not something I am concerned about," Aquilla said, getting off the bed. "Did you know if you behave yourself and I enjoy you, you won't have to work in the fields?"

"I'd prefer an honest day's work to being your catamite!"

Aquilla smiled an unseen smile. He had expected that answer. "How do you know? I may be exactly what you want?"

"I have what I want."

"Where?" Aquilla asked. "The broken skin on your back, the bruises from the beatings you've taken, this flimsy piece of linen around your hips? Where is what you want?"

"He'll be here," Iolaus replied firmly. Please come Hercules, please! his mind cried. I need you!

"And if he does get here? What then, my pretty slave? How will he even know you're in this house? Besides that, I own you, so unless he's willing to defy the local magistrate and my personal guard, what can he do?"

Iolaus felt a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach at the words.

"Think about that, my pretty slave," Aquilla said, laughing as he walked from the room.

He left his slave bound there for several more hours. When he returned, the man was asleep again.

Aquilla let his eyes wander over the lush body laid out on his bed. He felt himself swell at the sight of that rounded, creamy ass. He could see by the marks on the man's wrists he had actually tried to break free. What a spirit! By now most men would have been broken, but not this one. For the space of a few moments, Aquilla contemplated what would be the next step. He smiled evilly to himself and sat down on the bed, stroking the man's face. The blue eyes flashed open, and the slave jerked his head away.

"Easy, pet," Aquilla soothed. When the man settled down, Aquilla looked at him. "I'll give you a choice. If you will promise to behave and not try to escape or hurt me, I will free you from the bed." He saw suspicion leap into the man's eyes. "I won't do anything to you. Well, except tend your wrists and your back."

"You take care of your slaves' injuries?"

"When it suits me."

Iolaus eyed the man warily. His arms were aching from being stretched so tightly, and he needed to relieve himself and seriously doubted Aquilla would appreciate him soiling his bed. He nodded quickly. "I agree."

"Very good!" Aquilla reached up to free the slave's arm. He noticed how slowly the man moved his arm down. Aquilla purposefully reached over his body to release the other one, along with the chain binding his neck, gently touching him, while being in a dominant position. Iolaus sat up and moved away from him, rubbing his wrists and his shoulders. "See? We can be reasonable men."

"Thank you," Iolaus responded, feeling like he had to say something.

"There's a bath through there," Aquilla ordered, gesturing toward an archway. "Go clean yourself."

When Iolaus came out of the bath, he found another waistcloth laid out for him, along with a trencher of bread and a flask of wine. There was a note beside the fruit bowl that read, "Feel free to feed yourself." He almost threw the note down in anger, but his hunger overrode his anger and he began to eat. He poured himself a cup of wine and drank deeply. It was a fine red wine. Obviously, Aquilla had money.

When the door opened and Aquilla came in, Iolaus jumped. The man made him nervous, and it wasn't just because he held Iolaus' life in his hands.

"Ah, good. You're eating. I was afraid you might take exception to my sense of humor and starve yourself out of spite." Aquilla set a tray down on the table holding jars and pots of various ointments.

"I considered it, " Iolaus replied, eyeing the contents of the tray.

"Sit down and let me see your wrists," Aquilla ordered, seating himself at the table. "That was pretty stupid, you know. I have those chains checked regularly for their sturdiness."

Aquilla cleaned and bandaged first one wrist and then the other.

"Why are you doing this?" Iolaus asked, taken by surprise by the gentle touch of the older man's hands. All he had basically known in this house so far was pain.

"Well, I could give you some off the cuff answer like, I want to. But, honestly, it's to accustom you to being touched by me--"

Iolaus jumped backwards, knocking his chair over.

Aquilla looked up at him with bored eyes and continued "--without pain being involved."

His expression made Iolaus feel silly.

"Sit back down," Aquilla ordered, and Iolaus slowly righted the chair and sat down.

Aquilla had the slave stand while he tended his back, drawing more than one gasp of pain from the blond servant.

"Well, how about with less pain involved?" Aquilla joked, testing the slave's mental state. He got no response. He sighed heavily.

"There, I'm finished," he pronounced, as he began wiping his hands off. "Get me a glass of wine, would you?" he ordered vaguely, as he went to a basin and washed his hands. Iolaus filled him a cup and set it down roughly. "Be careful. I have a limited amount of patience."

"Why are you doing this? Do you enjoy it? You may as well let me go. I'll never willingly be your slave."

"Then you will be my unwilling slave," Aquilla answered with a smile, picking up his own wine and taking a sip. "We need to get some things straight between us. I will not insist on the word 'master'." He turned away from Iolaus, walked to a chair and sat down. "Any term of respect will do, but I insist on some title." The blond didn't respond. "Don't push me. Believe me, you have not yet experienced the worst punishment I can exact. Continue in this sullen and reticent attitude and you will."

"Yes -- sir."

Aquilla nodded, accepting that concession. "I will not insist that you respond to me in an amorous fashion, but you will receive my attentions without protest. The slightest anger on your part will be severely dealt with."

"Why can't you understand that I love someone else?!" Iolaus cried.

"Why can't you understand that I don't care?!" Aquilla responded, just as loudly, coming up out of his chair. "I own you, as I own my land," the man growled. "Dream of your lover all you want, but I paid for you and you will submit to my touch. Do you understand?"

"Never!" Blue eyes flashed fire.

"Cassius!!!" Aquilla bellowed. The door opened instantly. "You have made the wrong decision, pet, and you are about to find out why." Then, to the captain of his guard, "He's yours until tomorrow morning, unless he begs to be brought to me."

Cassius dragged his captive into another room and pushed him against a wall.

"I was hoping you would fight, pretty one," he said, rubbing his erection against the smaller man. "You will beg. No one has ever made it through a night with me without begging for something."

Iolaus shuddered as he felt the size of his tormentor's swollen cock. Despite his struggles, he was manhandled and chained across a square table. Cassius forced a gag into his mouth and then moved behind him. He screamed as the man roughly began to work his huge cock into his ass. Then the man's teeth sank into his shoulder ridge and he began to thrust rhythmically. It was dry, torturous, and each thrust tore the flesh held between the man's teeth, but Cassius seemed to enjoy the pain.

"Don't worry, sweet," Cassius grunted. "Soon your blood will ease my way."

A dark sadistic laugh filled Iolaus' ears. Then another scream was ripped from him as Cassius roughly pulled himself out. The hunter's legs were spread further, then tied to the table legs. Cassius again forced himself into the helpless body, burying his thick cock as far as it would go. He reached down between his victim's legs and began to stroke the flaccid penis, gently rubbing himself inside Iolaus until the hunter was hard.

Despite himself, Iolaus reacted to the ministrations until he felt the cockring tighten as his cock swelled. Cassius must have put it on him when he started to stroke him. Iolaus struggled vehemently against the restraint as he felt himself swell to the point the ring would keep him hard. Soon, with his ass stretched by Cassius' massive member and his cock and prostate being stroked by the man, he was desperate. He cried out as Cassius removed his hand, but heard Cassius whisper, "I like to know you're enjoying yourself."

Iolaus bit down on his gag and stifled a scream as teeth sank into his other shoulder and the torture began again. He tried to think of something else, but the pain was too severe. He couldn't remove himself from the situation. Hercules' cock was big, but this man was massive, thick and long, and his strokes were meant to inflict pain, driving his pelvic bones cruelly into the table, while his teeth ripped the flesh at his shoulder.

When Cassius drew close to orgasm, the speed and intensity of the strokes increased. Iolaus screamed again as Cassius reset his teeth. The man pulled himself out as he came, then covered Iolaus' ass in his cum.

The hunter collapsed limply against the table, thinking the man finished with him, until he felt several fingers slide into his ass and begin to stroke, humiliating him.

Cassius grinned as he used his hand to bring the slave off. He stroked over and over, until he had him screaming, straining, pulling away. He laughed as his pretty little victim spilled heavily on the ground.

"I like to make sure my lovers enjoy themselves too," Cassius taunted, as he moved away from the table, wiped himself off with a rag and then headed for the door. "Be back soon, slave."

When Cassius returned, he wasted no time. He walked up to Iolaus raped him again, and then released the hunter from the table, and smiled.

"Come on, tough boy. Show me what you got," Cassius challenged, dropping into a fighting stance.

Iolaus matched him and they circled. He was very unsure of what to do. Hitting this man might cost him a lot more than he was willing to pay. He took punch after punch from the bigger man, watching in fear as a tell-tale bulge showed in the front of his pants. He realized sickly that this guy liked inflicting pain. But if he didn't do what he was told --?

He landed one punch and watched blood flow from Cassius' nose. The big man just wiped his nose and nodded. "Not bad."

The next punch he caught, literally. Iolaus' hand was engulfed in his and Cassius started to squeeze. Soon enough, the hunter was on his knees holding his wrist, afraid his hand was about to be crushed.

"Ask me," Cassius growled, increasing the pressure for a moment. The gasp from the small man brought a cruel smile to his lips.

"Please, let go," Iolaus whispered, and his hand was released. He cradled it to his chest.

Cassius stood over him. "Still want to play with me, or are you willing to go and be a good body slave for Aquilla?"

So that was how it was. Iolaus began to understand that he would be abused here until he obeyed for Aquilla. He rose to his feet, met the man's eyes and issued his own challenge. "I'll take the worst you have to give, Cassius!"

The next thing Iolaus knew, his body and head made contact with a wall. Dazed, he tried to get to his feet, but found himself lifted by his hair, taking a knee to the stomach. He was once again thrown over the table, and again Cassius thrust into him. Even with his arms free, Iolaus was unable to stop this man from using him. The more he fought, the more excited Cassius became.

Then Cassius locked Iolaus' wrists to the anklets and threw him on his back on the bed. Lust and passion built in Cassius' face as he watched the hunter struggle. Yet again, Cassius brutally forced himself into the pretty slave. But this time, he stopped. Buried deep inside Iolaus, he leaned over and kissed him, forcing the hunter's jaws apart with one hand while the other held the man's cock.

Iolaus felt like throwing up, and even more so as Cassius continued his assault. But worse than the use of his body was the way that the other man could make him react and get hard. After that first time, however, Cassius never allowed the hunter release. The pain would ease the erection for a while, but then Cassius would bring him just to the edge of release again and deny him.

By sunrise, Iolaus' throat was raw from screaming. Cum and blood dripping down his legs, finally, his head down, he mumbled something.

"What did you say, slave?" Cassius asked, lifting his head by the golden locks.

"Please," the broken hunter whispered. "Take me to Aquilla."

After being thrown in a bath, Iolaus was taken to Aquilla's chamber. There his knee was clipped and he was forced to kneel. Lounging in his bed, Aquilla studied at his slave for a long moment, deciding he looked good on his knees.

"You will accept my touch?"

There was a moment's silence.

"Yes - sir," came the croaking voice of the defeated man, who had never raised his head to meet Aquilla's eyes.

"Stand up," Aquilla ordered, and Iolaus struggled to his feet, his arms locked behind his back by his manacles. Aquilla stroked his arms and Iolaus did not pull away. Then Aquilla's hands traveled his chest and belly. Iolaus, with his head still bowed, did not move. When the older man lifted his face and touched his lips to the hunter's, although he didn't move, he did stiffen. The grey eyes studied him intently. "Take him to his room and allow him to rest."

Iolaus found himself in a small room with a metal grating on an open window, a bed, a chair and a basin and a table with food. He had been pushed in the door, and had heard a bolt put in place. His arms had been unmanacled. Covering his face with his hands, he slid to his knees and started sobbing. "Hercules, please help me!" he whispered to the blank stone walls.

He was still curled up on the floor the next morning, right where Cassius had left him. He opened his eyes to see Aquilla sitting on his bed.

"I didn't want to do that to you, pet."

"Then why did you?" Iolaus croaked, sitting up, moving away from the man, and leaning against the wall. His entire body screamed at the torture he had been put through.

"Because otherwise, I would have had to kill you."

"I think death would have been preferable."

"Cassius does have his uses, but if you will behave, you will not experience that again."

Iolaus almost laughed. "Is that how you deal with errant slaves? Strip them of their pride and dignity, inflict so great a pain on them that they -- they --"

"Beg?" Aquilla supplied the word, as the slave appeared close to tears. The blond head nodded. "If that's the only way," Aquilla responded, moving around the room. "You can rest today, but tomorrow night you will serve me. Do you understand?"

"And if I don't?" Iolaus questioned, meeting Aquilla's cold eyes for the first time.

"You go back to Cassius."

Aquilla left the room by a different door, and Iolaus noticed it led to Aquilla's chambers. His heart sank in despair.

Aquilla was hard as Iolaus continued to suck on his cock, then Aquilla pulled the hunter's mouth away by his hair. Iolaus lowered his head, knowing too well what came next. He wished he had done a more thorough job, then he wouldn't hear what Aquilla said next,

"Lay on the table." Iolaus wanted to sob, to run, but he had tried that too, and had been taught it was unacceptable. He stood and bent over the table, and bore the humiliation of being raped in front of whoever was in the room. After Aquilla came, he helped Iolaus off the table and allowed him to leave the dining area.

Watching the blond man go, Aquilla decided it was time to give him a treat. He was almost broken. The first time Aquilla had told him to suck him, he had fought. However, after his night with Cassius, the man had done it perfunctorily. Now his slave tried to get Aquilla to come so he wasn't raped on the tables. How he enjoyed this one! He showed so much spunk, but Aquilla knew the games better than he did and the golden body slave had no chance of winning. Soon enough he would come willingly to his master.

That was what Iolaus' life had been like for the last two weeks. He went to his quarters and cleaned himself, and waited. While he sat in the silent room, waiting for his master to call him, he slowly curled up into a ball in the corner of his bed, tears flowing down his face. He hated it when he got this way.

"I can't live like this," he whispered to himself. "I can't! Hercules, where are you? I need you! 'Dite, Heph, anyone, please! This is going to kill me." He let the tears fall. "I'm his whore. Not even that, I'm his slave." When he had started talking to himself, he didn't know, but except for Aquilla, no one would speak to him, not even the other slaves. He was so alone, so lost.

He was so lost in his own pain, he didn't hear the door open.

"Is it that bad?" Aquilla asked, taking in the position the hunter had curled himself into and the red eyes and tear-stained cheeks. He knew he had the slave's obedience, but he wanted more. The man would obey him out of fear, and some hope he held close, but Aquilla sensed the slave had another level, a deeper level that he guarded fiercely.

"I can't live like this. I'll go insane. Please, let me go. I can't live in a room."

"I'd let you work the fields, but you are still too unpredictable. You'll run."

"No. I swear I won't," Iolaus promised fervently. "Just let me out of this room, let me feel the sun, let me do something."

"I'll give you one chance. If you try to run, I will have you hamstrung and then you will never ever leave this room. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir," Iolaus responded.

Aquilla smiled. That victory had come quickly enough, and easily enough. A little concession on his part, and the slave entered his bed almost willingly.

The next day Iolaus was allowed a breechclout and taken to the fields. His muscles screamed at the sudden physical exercise, but he was exuberant. He could feel the sun on his face and back, the wind in his hair. It was wonderful.

That evening as he was brought back to the main house, he began to whistle. He almost served Aquilla happily that evening, and barely noticed that Aquilla was allowing him a lot of wine.

"Did you enjoy your day outside?"

"Yes," Iolaus responded, with a small smile. "Thank you."

Aquilla noted the slight slur to the slave's voice. He offered him the goblet again and the slave drank deeply. The landowner smiled to himself. Tonight would be the night; the slave felt grateful. A little more wine, a little kind attention and the first major step would be taken. Soon the slave would serve him. Willingly.

Aquilla didn't require that Iolaus service him in the dining room that evening, and when he opened the door to his quarters, he found the hunter relaxed against the wall. He cleared his throat and Iolaus almost jumped, expecting to be reprimanded for being so lax, but instead, Aquilla sat beside him.

"If I had known letting you outside would make you so happy, I would have at least let you in the courtyard." As if he hadn't kept him inside to break his spirit, Aquilla thought amused. He reached out and stroked the blond hair back. "Why can't you ever keep this mop contained?"

"It's always like that," Iolaus said, submitting to the touch. He knew people were drawn to his hair and body. He had even become accustomed to the occasional touching. Aquilla handed him the cup again and he drank, realizing he was feeling the effects of the wine.

"Now, hold still." Aquilla gently lowered his head and touched Iolaus' lips with his. He had no intention of truly kissing the slave, just testing the waters to see if he was going to immediately balk.

Iolaus stayed still and didn't flinch. Aquilla hadn't done that to him since the morning after Cassius. He found himself drawn to the contact, but Aquilla broke it off very quickly.

Iolaus looked at the far wall uncertainly. Aquilla hadn't been cruel to him, but he had used him every night, and it was harder and harder to endure. He was usually chained to the bed, and then Aquilla would use his body, jerk him off, and then send him to his room, locking the door. Iolaus needed badly to be touched.

"I am pleased." Aquilla got up and went to his room, leaving the door open. Iolaus dutifully followed, upset with himself for allowing himself to even begin to enjoy the kiss. This man was just trying to use him.

Aquilla was, in fact, very pleased. He had come to the decision that his newest slave was a social creature and cutting him off from all contact seemed to be working very well, not to mention keeping him indoors. He poured another cup of wine and handed it to Iolaus.

He had heard the man's sleep become more and more restless and had looked in on him while the slave slept, his cock in his hand, murmuring, stroking himself. Then he heard the man jerking himself off, stifling his cries.


Iolaus eyed him suspiciously, but raised the cup to his lips. "Getting me drunk?"

"Something like that." Aquilla smiled, filling his own cup. "Really, giving you a night to relax. You seem happier than I have ever seen you." He moved up behind Iolaus.

How easy it was, Aquilla thought to himself. He admitted this one was more fun. He showed more spirit, but soon, like every other pet, he would eat from his Master's hand. And then -- then his Master would teach his pet how he really liked things in his bed. Aquilla swelled as he thought of the idea of this man chained to the bed, begging for release.

"I told you I would never take to a being a slave," Iolaus replied, drinking more to cover his nervousness at Aquilla's close approach. His instincts still screamed he should run.

"I won't argue with you tonight," the older man whispered, brushing his robes against Iolaus' body. He watched, pleased, as the slave took another drink of wine, then moved away to the window. "I still make you that nervous?"

"I want to leave," Iolaus responded, finishing his wine. "Wander like I used to. Be free."

"That isn't going to happen. You are mine, and you will stay here. Unless, of course, you can figure out how to pay me back what I paid for you?" Aquilla came up behind him again.

"How much did you pay for me?"

"Fifteen pieces of gold," Aquilla lied, and he saw the slave jerk. He knew he was close to the point of breaking.

"That's a small fortune."

"And you can't work or earn a wage as a slave," Aquilla explained, refilling the empty wine glass. He watched the shoulders slump and realized he had pushed the man too far. "I'll make you a deal. If you can repay me, you can go."


"Perhaps your lover will find you," Aquilla offered. He watched the slave, expecting some signs of life, but there were none. He ran his hand over the slave's shoulders, and felt him flinch. "Don't make me force you again tonight. Come willingly."

"I -- I can't." Iolaus pulled away and went to the far side of the room, staring at a wall. Aquilla followed him, and his cup of wine appeared over his shoulder. He took it and downed the entire cup. "There. Happy?" the hunter sniped.

"That is my best wine, so you could at least taste it," Aquilla drolly commented. Then he whispered in the hunter's ear. "Do you know how beautiful you are?" He gently drew his lips across Iolaus' shoulders. "I have a present for you." The landowner went to his dresser and got something. He held it up for the little blonde to see. It was a long earring that would brush Iolaus' neck, a very sensitive area that Aquilla had discovered. "Go on," he urged. "Put it on."

Iolaus took the earring and put it in his ear. He shivered as the cold metal caressed his neck, and the unusual weight of it distracted him.

That last cup of wine had been just a little too much, but as Aquilla turned him to a mirror, the hunter had to admit, it was -- complimentary. He felt the other man's hands on his chest, scraping his nipples. He fought to remain aloof. He had to, if not for himself, then for Hercules. Aquilla's teeth gently bit at his neck and he felt the suction as the other man bit and drew on the sensitive flesh. A groan escaped him. Then Aquilla's hand slipped beneath his waistcloth and he could not suppress the gasp as his cock was stroked.

"Very good. I am pleased," Aquilla murmured. He handed Iolaus another cup of wine and the hunter drank it while Aquilla gently teased his cock.

Iolaus could feel Aquilla's hardened member rubbing against his ass, through the robes the man wore. The tendrils of the earring brushing his neck, a hand slowly arousing him. He lost himself in the sensations for a moment. Then he stiffened and pulled away.

Aquilla sighed heavily feigning being upset at the slave's reluctance. Guilt could be an effective tool, almost as effective as pain.

"Come, pet, perhaps this will help. I so hate the chains." Aquilla led Iolaus to another room, one he had never been in. "I can make this easier for you. Do you want that?"

"What are you going to --"

Aquilla's hand over his lips silenced him. "Do you want me to make it easier?" He gently stroked Iolaus' face. "Let me make it something other than use."

"That's all it is," Iolaus replied, lowering his eyes.

"Then let me make it more pleasant for you."

Iolaus tried to see past the shadows into the room.

"I won't hurt you." The landowner's hand stroking his arms gently, his lips at Iolaus' neck.

He looked up into Aquilla's face. The fact that he had had too much to drink occurred to him, but he nodded quickly.

Aquilla pulled the sash from his robes and used it to blindfold his almost-willing slave. There was still stiffness in the hunter's body.

"I won't hurt you or beat you. I won't let you trip? Do you understand?" the landowner whispered in his ear. Iolaus nodded as Aquilla took his arm and began to lead him into the room.

"Stand here." Iolaus heard him moving around, and then heard Aquilla approach him. His lips covered Iolaus' and the hunter jumped at the unexpected contact, But Aquilla broke the kiss quickly.

"Give me your hand." Iolaus allowed his arm to be moved and he felt -- silk, firmly tied to his wrist. "You're doing very well. Now the other one." His left arm too was tied by the silk. He heard movement and then felt silk around his ankles.

"What are you doing?"

"Making this next step easier. Take a step up and stand with your legs spread." Iolaus did as he was told, and felt his arms being pulled up and away from his body. He was being staked out. He tensed. "Easy," Aquilla's voice soothed from the darkness. Then his arms were stretched above his head, he was standing spread-eagled and very nervous. "Are you comfortable?" Iolaus nodded again. Then a chain between his ankles. He heard Aquilla circle him. "Try to get loose." He struggled against whatever he was tied to but it wasn't giving. "Can you escape?"

"No," he answered.

"I am going to touch you." And Aquilla's hand came to his face, stroking it. Iolaus was forced to stand there while his entire body was touched, stroked excited. The wine made him just fuzzy enough so that he wasn't aware of exactly what he was doing.

Aquilla thoroughly enjoyed watching the slave's body respond to his touches. He didn't think the man was even aware of the fact he was now naked, displayed for Aquilla's enjoyment. Very slowly, he allowed his hand to trail to the hunter's cock and began to stroke it. The resulting gasps and moans were so exciting.

Then Aquilla suddenly stepped up, coupled their cocks in his hand, and kissed his slave. Iolaus gasped, but as he opened his mouth to protest, Aquilla's tongue delved deeply into him. The flesh against his flesh, Aquilla's one hand holding their cocks together, the other controlling Iolaus' head, the wine. It was too much.

The slave melted against him just as Aquilla had expected. The man had been denied contact for almost a month and he had seen several bite marks on his neck prior to purchasing him. His best guess was the slave was tactile, and after being denied a gentle, loving touch for so long, would respond to any attentions.

Iolaus moaned and lost himself to the ministrations. He returned the man's kiss, needing contact. It had been so long since someone had touched him, held him. They stood there pushing against each other. Something other than just a hand on his cock. The hard flesh against his chest. The lips, the tongue, just like -- he stiffened but Aquilla gently broke the kiss.

"Beautiful," Aquilla whispered, as he bit at Iolaus' neck, continuing to slowly stroke his cock along the hunter's. Iolaus wanted to deny it, but the truth was that he wanted this. To be touched, held, loved, something other than used. His lips were once more covered by Aquilla's. "Mine, you are mine," came a whisper. "Do you know how badly I want to fuck you?" Iolaus groaned deeply as Aquilla ran his cock over the tip of his own straining member again and again.

Aquilla watched the play of emotions on the hunter's face. A blindfold tended to make one less careful with the expression, and this man was no exception. He watched as the hunter bit his lips and then licked them. The wine was making the slave even laxer as he vocalized his enjoyment.

"More!" Iolaus cried, trembling, struggling against the ties. Aquilla's free hand came to his balls, causing the bound man to groan and twist his head.

"Soon, pet, soon." Then Aquilla was gone. Iolaus cried out, but he listened intently. "I'll be back in a moment." He could only stand there listening, helpless, blind. His head turned as he heard Aquilla come back into the room. A cup was placed to his lips. "Drink." And he was given more wine.

Then he felt Aquilla's hand cover his cock, and his body press up behind him. Iolaus groaned as he realized Aquilla was naked and had oiled his hand. He began to push into it, relishing the feel of something other than a dry hand making him come. He felt Aquilla's lips and teeth on his neck.

"Come for me, pet. Enjoy yourself."

The land owner used that term when the man was too distracted to argue. His gentle domination seemed to make the slave even more excited. Then Aquilla realized what the secret was that the slave held so closely. The man wanted to be dominated. Smiling to himself, Aquilla felt his own cock grow. He almost laughed. This slave was his; he knew very well how to use that weakness. Iolaus began to push into the stroking hand. "You want it that badly?" Aquilla asked the leading question to see what answer he got.

"I can't help myself," Iolaus moaned, more to himself than to Aquilla. "More pressure," he cried, twisting his head, thrusting faster and harder. Then he felt a finger worked into his ass.

"You like that, pet?"

"More!" Iolaus cried again, trying to get himself off, restrained though he was. "Gods, please, more!"

"Easy, pet, easy." The finger was replaced by two and Iolaus wasn't even aware of the fact he was trying to bend over to allow for deeper penetration. He heard a chuckle, but didn't care. When was the last time someone had touched him, held him, cared about his pleasure? He cried out as a third finger entered him.

"Please!" he begged, now desperate for completion.

"Please what, pet?" Aquilla asked as his slave literally fucked himself on his hand.

"Stroke me, let me come! I can't like this!"

"You want me to do that?"

"Yes!" came the ragged answer. Iolaus gasped as the hand began to moved on him and in him in rhythm. When Aquilla stroked his prostate, Iolaus jerked hard in the restraints. "I'm close, so close," he moaned. "Please!" He seemed entirely unaware that Aquilla was intentionally holding him at the edge of orgasm.

"Come, pet," Aquilla whispered, as he finished the other man off. Iolaus cried out loudly as he came hard in Aquilla's hand. Aquilla gently supported him as he hung momentarily from the straps on his wrists, whispering and murmuring how beautiful the slave was.

When Iolaus recovered himself and stood up, Aquilla again held a glass of wine to his lips and smiled as the hunter drank. He would hate himself in the morning, but tonight it was time to overload the man's deprived sensory intakes. He stroked the blond hair out of Iolaus' face and gently kissed him. Oh, my sweet pet, Aquilla thought to himself, you are going to serve me, begging me for the slightest touch, and you will love every sweet painful moment of it.

"See? That wasn't so bad, was it?" he whispered gently.

"No one has touched me that way, not even you."

"You wouldn't let me make it enjoyable for you," Aquilla replied, stroking his thumb over the hunter's lips. "You made me take you that way."

Iolaus was drunk enough that he was having a hard time sorting out the truth, and Aquilla was putting the blame on him. The other man's lips closed over his again and Iolaus returned it.

For the rest of the evening, Aquilla explored and used Iolaus' body. When his slave was again desperate, Aquilla removed him from the rack and then brought him back to the bedroom, giving him another glass of wine. He never removed the blindfold, and for some reason, Iolaus liked it that way.

When Iolaus got on the bed, Aquilla watched him become tense.

"I can chain you again."


'Me thinks thou dost protest too much my slave.' Aquilla thought as he moved beside him and kissed him.

Iolaus was clearly uncomfortable. He knew he shouldn't be doing this, but it felt so good.

"Then behave and I won't chain you." He claimed the slave's lips again, pushing him back into the silken sheets. Iolaus groaned as Aquilla's hand closed over his cock again. He thrust up into it. "So pretty," Aquilla whispered. "Do you have any idea what you do to me?"

Iolaus didn't care, he thrust back up into the hand, cocking his knees, holding the hand to him. He groaned, and began to pump. As Aquilla kissed him and drew on his tongue, he groaned again and held the head to his beyond care and reason, needing release. But it evaded him. He felt Aquilla rise up over him.

"Roll over," came the quiet command, and Iolaus obeyed, never allowing Aquilla to release his aching cock. Then he felt the other man push gently at him and he spread his legs.

"Yes," he moaned as Aquilla, slowly, gently, worked himself into his ass. He sobbed, "More, more" as the cock penetrated him.

"Ask me, pet. Say it," Aquilla growled.

"Fuck me!" Iolaus cried, uncaring of anything but his need for that pressure to increase. "Please fuck me!" Frantic, he drove himself backwards onto Aquilla's cock and screamed as he came, fountaining over himself and the bed, fucking himself on the man's dick and hand. He stayed on his hands and knees, drawing breath after ragged breath into his lungs.

Then Aquilla began to move inside him, stroking his pleasure spot, and Iolaus almost came again as the sudden shock of pleasure mixed with the afterglow.

But soon enough, the slave did come again as his master drove into him, and emptied himself into his body.

Aquilla gathered the exhausted, drunk slave to him and held him all night long. Not bad for a night's work, he told himself. He had touched the slave without the slave tensing. In fact, by the end of the evening, the slave had sought his touch. He had kissed the slave and it had also been met passionately, and the man had responded to him sexually, begging his touch. Aquilla stroked the blond hair and kissed the forehead beneath it.

"You should have held your secret closer, my slut. Now you will have the master you have wanted, shoving himself into your beautiful ass, and you'll beg me for it." Aquilla laughed darkly and continued to whisper to the man who couldn't hear him, "Now, my sweet body slave, you learn to hate yourself for your weaknesses, but you won't be able to deny yourself the pleasures of my bed."

The next day, Iolaus woke up alone in the bed. There was no one in the room. He sat up and looked around. He saw food on the table and a piece of paper.

"Slave -- I have to take care of some business and will be gone for several days. See Cassius for your chores. He has been told not to touch you."

Iolaus looked up as the events of the night before flooded over him. His stomach turned as he thought of what he had done. He went to that other room, but the door was locked. The only door that was open was the one to his quarters, so he went in and sat down, feeling sick to his stomach. What had he done? Pictures flashed through his mind, whorishly pumping into the man's hand, his legs splayed, begging the man to fuck him. He put his head in his hands. Oh gods, what had he done!

For a week, Aquilla was gone, and Cassius followed the landowner's directions perfectly.

Iolaus had not been allowed out of the house during the master's absence. Cassius had claimed that Aquilla hadn't let him out prior to his absence and there was no way he was going to take that chance that Iolaus would run. When he found Iolaus on the front porch, Cassius dragged the slave to his room, chained him to the bed, and left him there.

Iolaus had paced the length of the chain so he knew it by heart. 3 1/2 paces. He could reach everything but the doors for the length of chain between the bed and his ankle. He could stretch out on the bed, he could reach the far wall, but he couldn't get to the doors.

He was staring out the window, when the door opened. A female slavestood in the doorway, with Cassius behind her. His smile was cruel, as the slave put Iolaus meal down on the table and backed out of the room. Cassius caught the look in Iolaus' eyes.

"Don't even think about it pet, they won't even speak to you, let alone help you get free or get off."

On the second day in his room, the fourth day of Aquilla's absence, Iolaus began to pace, obseesively. He didn't sleep at night; his dreams were either of Hercules or the night he had gotten drunk.

That night, Cassius walked in to find the slave jerking himself off. Aquilla had told him to listen and when the slave was hard, to go in and backshackle him, bindng his wrists tightly behind him, which is exactly what Cassius did.

Iolaus was going insane. He could barely move, and when they brought his meals, he was forced to eat from the women's hands. They wouldn't speak to him, but one day one of them spilt wine over him, and he blushed as his cock swelled as she cleaned him. She smiled coyly and touched him. He gasped and pushed up. She put a finger over his lips and took him in her mouth, but he soon couldn't contain his groans.

Cassius was waiting. Feigning anger, he came in, threw the female slave from the room, and left Iolaus alone, locking the door as he went out.

Cassius shook his head as he closed and bolted the slave's door. With his arms behind him, the slave's movements would be limited, his normal gate disturbed, getting up and down from his bed would be hard. He would have trouble relieving himself with any accuracy, and his sense of confinement would increase. There were times, Cassius thought as he walked down the hall, he was glad he worked for Aquilla instead of being owned by the man.

Iolaus started to talk to himself again. His dreams were torture; he woke up aching every time, his cock standing hard. His pacing became frantic, he was slowly going insane, staring out the window, pacing the length of his chain, straining against the wide bands on his wrists. He was fed by beautiful women under the watchful eye of Cassius, who merely laughed at the hunter's frustrations.

Finally a slave came in with a tub of water, with Cassius following behind her.

"Get on the bed, pretty one. The master comes home tomorrow morning and you are to be clean for his arrival." Iolaus looked between the pan of water, the woman and the guard and realized what would happen. "Get on the bed or I'll tie you down and do it myself." Resigned, Iolaus did as he was told, trying to prepare himself for this further humiliation.

Aquilla rode through the gates the next morning with a companion. He eyed the merchant riding beside him with a quiet smile. The other man was a little younger than he was but not without interest, and he had made it known he was available. Aquilla had brought him here to finalize the sale of a jewel he had liked, a cornflower-blue, gem-cut sapphire, for which he had a very special purpose in mind, not that his body slave would appreciate what he was trying to do for him, of course. He had had enough gold to have bought that stone, but had not wanted to deplete his funds by so much. Besides, he had a use for this man.

Cassius came out to greet them.

"And how is everything?" Aquilla questioned his second.

"All is well and has gone exactly according to plan," Cassius said with meaning.

"Very good. Cassius, this is Euphonius. Euphonius, my right hand man, Cassius." They shook hands. "Have a room prepared for him," Aquilla ordered, then, to the merchant, "I assume you will be spending the night?"

"That could be arranged," Euphonius replied, eyeing the landowner. He had a bad feeling about this, but the sale of the sapphire would seriously ease his financial situation, and he knew that sale might well depend on his ability to please his customer, in more ways than one. No problem; he'd done that sort of thing before. In fact, he enjoyed it.

"Good," Aquilla responded. He headed for the house, with the other man following him.

Aquilla smiled as he turned his back to the merchant. Oh yes, the man would do nicely. Cassius' answer in the courtyard had told him that the slave was chained up in his bed. He thought quickly; yes, there was enough money in his drawer to cover the purchase of the stone.

Euphonius, meanwhile, was looking around at the sumptuous furnishings, clearly impressed but trying not to show it.

"I am so glad we met," Aquilla said, handing the merchant a glass of wine and moving closer to him as he did so.

The merchant looked down at his cup, and quietly replied, "So am I. Especially since we appear to share common interests."

"So true." Aquilla laughed, lifting Euphonius' face. He was pleased when the other man didn't object or pull away. Then he leaned over and kissed him, in an exploratory fashion. Aquilla wasn't going to screw the man over his desk. No, he intended to take him into his room, where the slave could hear every moment of it.

There was a knock at the study door. Cassius came in and addressed the merchant. "Your room is ready, and a bath has been prepared."

"Very good, Cassius," Aquilla said. "And one for me as well, I hope?"

Cassius nodded, a cold smile spreading over his face.

Shortly after he had bathed, Aquilla sent for his guest, requesting the merchant's presence in his room. The door to the slave's room was pulled closed, and although Aquilla knew the man was sound asleep, he was sure the noises they were about to make would wake him.

When he appeared in the doorway, Euphonius wore a long richly-embroidered brown robe that suited his coloring rather well. It was open down the front halfway to his waist, and Aquilla could see that the merchant was in fairly good shape for someone who was no longer young. Not nearly as beautiful as his body slave, but attractive.

Aquilla studied him closely. He had seen him jump when Cassius had come into the study, so the man was obviously nervous, despite his attempt to appear calm.

"Ah, Euphonius, here you are! Good. Come, let me see the jewel again, so we can get this part of our business out of the way." Aquilla rose from his bed wearing only his pants. He noticed the way Euphonius' eyes slid appraisingly down his bare chest, then dipped lower still.

The merchant took the sapphire from the pouch at his waist, holding it out to Aquilla, who held it up to the light, nodding at the purity and color of the stone. "Perfect. How much? 100 dinars?"

Euphonius crossed his arms and stated sternly, "For the stone, 150." Then he smiled. "Any other services are -- negotiable."

"I'll bet they are," Aquilla replied, pulling the smaller man close and claiming his mouth in a kiss.

He was caught off guard and for a moment he stiffened, but soon his arms came around the landowner's waist, as Aquilla sank his hand deeply into his hair, controlling his head, slanting his lips over Euphonius'.

Then Aquilla ended the kiss, stroking the man's face. He chuckled and released him. Going to his drawer, he drew out a pouch. "I believe this will cover the purchase of the stone." He threw the bag to the merchant, who caught it deftly.

Euphonius emptied the money into his hand and counted it with a practiced eye. This was more than enough for the sapphire. He looked at the other man, and caught Aquilla staring intently at a closed door off to the side of the room. There was evidently more to this than he had first thought.

"Is that the reason for this game?" he guessed, nodding his head in the direction of the door.

Aquilla nodded at the man's insight. "Part of it. Come." He knew the slave hadn't awakened yet because the bed hadn't squeaked and he hadn't heard the clink of the chains.

He cracked the door open slightly and indicated that the merchant should look into the dimly-lit room. The slave lay on his stomach with his head turned away, but his posture was inviting, to say the least.

Euphonius caught a quick glimpse of a small but muscular body, with a delectable ass pointed right at him. The slave's legs were widely spread, almost as if waiting for his lover. Euphonius noted the blond hair, but his eyes were once more drawn to the man's lower body, and he felt himself swell. And then he noticed the chains.

He stepped back away from the doorway and looked at Aquilla. "Very lovely. But somehow I don't think he's meant for me." He frowned. "He's a slave, isn't he?"

"You're right on both points. He belongs to me, and he's not meant for you. I just want him to know what's going on between us."

Euphonius' frown darkened. "I know slavery is legal here, but I've never liked the idea of one person owning another. And if you think I'm going to let you fuck me, for a slave's enjoyment --"

"No, no, nothing like that," Aquilla assured him quickly. "I never would have brought you here if I weren't interested in you. Really, your appearance has been serendipitous. I didn't want to deplete my funds on the road, and I hate sex on the ground. Always seems to be a rock in the wrong place, you know. And besides," Aquilla said, stepping up to him, "you strike me as the kind of man who might like something a little -- different."

"Depends on what you have in mind," Euphonius temporized. He thought he knew where this was going, but he wasn't entirely sure as yet.

"A few games for our mutual enjoyment. Nothing painful, nothing very unusual," Aquilla said, stroking one finger slowly across Euphonius' lips. "I like to be strong, and I like to be with someone who likes me strong." He kissed the other man and met with a tentative response.

"Okay," the merchant replied carefully. "Strong I can handle." Then he inclined his head toward the other room. "So what about him? How does your slave figure into it?"

"Oh, he should be about desperate by now, and I want him that way." Aquilla pulled Euphonius closer to him and rubbed his cock against the man's own swelling erection. "You let me do you here, where he can listen to us. Then, if you want, I'll let you watch me completely dominate him later on tonight." He kissed Euphonius again. "And then I'll take you anyway you want me to."

"I don't know about this," Euphonius replied, backing away from the landowner. It sounded as if Aquilla had plans for this particular slave that went far beyond any legitimate use, if there could truly be said to be any legitimate use to be made of a slave.

"Fine. Here's your sapphire. Give me back my money, and you can go." Aquilla tossed the expensive gem negligently to the merchant. Seeing the hesitation in the other man's eyes, he added smoothly, "Or are your scruples perhaps not quite as important to you as you'd like to think?"

Euphonius rubbed the polished jewel between his thumb and forefinger as he considered. He really needed this sale. He had a few outstanding debts, and they had to be paid soon or he'd be in big trouble. He couldn't afford to be too squeamish and Aquilla seemed to realize that. Tossing the sapphire back, he tried to sound casual as he said, "For right now, I'm for sale. Beyond that --" He shrugged. "We'll see."

Aquilla laughed darkly, and pulled the smaller man once more up against him. Euphonius didn't even try to get away. In fact, he melted quite willingly into the embrace. Aquilla was sure from his reaction that his guest wouldn't put up any further objections, once things got properly started.

Iolaus awoke to voices from the next room. He lifted his head and looked around blearily.

"Gods, you are so tight!" he heard Aquilla groan. There was a response, but his mind didn't quite comprehend it, although his aching cock did.

"Oh, yeah, deeper."

"All in good time. I like to take it slow and enjoy myself," Aquilla said, as he slowly began to slide himself further into the man lying before him. He had Euphonius' legs over his shoulders and could see his face, as he thrust into his ass. Aquilla leaned forward, covering the other man's mouth with his own and drawing his tongue into his mouth as he slowly drove his shaft in more deeply.

Euphonius squirmed at the slow intrusion, his fingers gripping Aquilla's shoulders. He bucked and groaned as Aquilla pulled almost completely out, paused, and then drove himself back in.

Aquilla lifted his head and smiled. He had just heard the clink of chains from the next room. His slave must be awake.

He began to arouse the merchant further, twisting and biting at his nipples while continuing to thrust slowly in and out. When the merchant tried to reach for his own cock, Aquilla grabbed his hands and pinned them above his head. He kissed Euphonius again, hard. This time he drew Aquilla's tongue into his mouth and sucked on it eagerly. Aquilla thrust into him once more, then broke off the kiss to smile down and say, "You like it a little rough, huh?"

"Oh, yeah," the other man said, his eyes half-closed in the dreamy daze of arousal. "More."

Iolaus had managed to get off his bed, because he couldn't stand torturing himself anymore stroking against the blanket. With his hands restrained behind him, he couldn't get the friction he needed. He could only listen as someone was being thoroughly screwed less than twenty paces from him and enjoying the crap out of it.

"Like that. Yes! Fuck me harder!" he heard the strange voice plead. Iolaus could vividly picture Aquilla driving into the man. Frustrated, he lowered his head at the thought and went to stare out the barred window, trying unsuccessfully to ignore his hard cock leaking, and the sweet burning he felt in his belly.

"Turn over," Aquilla ordered.

Euphonius complied, carefully keeping the other man inside him. The feeling of that hard cock rotating as he moved was maddening. He rose onto his hands and knees, as he felt Aquilla spread his legs farther apart and push that last remaining length of his dick up his ass. The merchant pushed back into it, growing more desperate for release. But, once in, all Aquilla did was rock gently back and forth, just barely stimulating him, until Euphonius was covered in sweat. He tried harder to push back and impale himself, but Aquilla would have none of it. He stopped moving completely.

"Fuck me, damn you!" Euphonius demanded hoarsely.

Aquilla grabbed his hair and jerked his head back, making the other man grimace at the sudden and unexpected pain. "I am the master here, merchant. Not you. If you want something, ask for it nicely," he instructed.

Iolaus groaned and worried the manacles holding his hands behind his back. He considered lying back down and trying to ease his aching cock on the blanket again.

Euphonius knew pretty well how this particular game was played. "Please," he said softly. "Fuck me. Make me come."

"That's better." Letting go of his hair, Aquilla pulled all the way out then pushed completely into him in one smooth motion.

Euphonius gasped, his fingers curling into the covers and clutching at them desperately as Aquilla stroked repeatedly into his ass. Then he felt strong fingers reaching around and milking his cock. He squirmed and moaned, thrusting into that insistent hand.

"Come for me, merchant," Aquilla growled. He felt Euphonius spasm around him and heard him cry out as his come coated Aquilla's hand. Then Aquilla let go of his own control and groaned as he buried himself over and over, releasing his seed inside his compliant guest.

Iolaus was curled up in the corner of his room, his knees pulled up, as his erection ached and screamed for release, and tears slid down his cheeks.

That evening at dinner, although Euphonius sat down carefully, he was not unhappy.

Aquilla smiled at him with a slight apology written around the edge of his mouth. "I didn't mean to hurt you," he lied.

I'll bet! Euphonius thought. But all he said out loud was, "Oh, believe me, I've had worse." Then he added quickly, "But nothing I've enjoyed so much. Not for a very long time."

Aquilla laughed heartily. He clapped his hands and several servants hurried in, setting platters of rich food on the table and filling cups with fine wine. For several minutes, both men ate and drank in silence.

"So where is he?" Euphonius inquired casually, looking around. "Don't I even get to meet that gorgeous slave for whose edification we staged such an elaborate performance?" He wanted more information about what Aquilla had planned, before he got any further into this. And he also had to admit to a certain amount of curiosity about the object of Aquilla's dubious affections.

"Oh, he's still in his room. I'll have him sent to the main baths. Meanwhile, we'll get you situated to watch, before he's brought back in." Aquilla studied the merchant carefully. "I think tonight will prove to be a turning point in his training. Maybe you'd like to do more than just watch. What do you say, Euph?"

The piece of lamb the merchant had just swallowed felt as if it were stuck in his throat and his stomach was becoming decidedly uneasy. He took another mouthful of wine, then looked his host straight in the eye. "My name is Euphonius, not Euph." He took another sip, hoping his hand wasn't shaking visibly. "I -- don't think I want anymore to do with all this, if you don't mind."

"Oh?" Aquilla's voice was dangerously soft. "What's the problem? You seemed to enjoy our earlier activities well enough."

"I did. But --"

"If you're worried I'll do to you what I've been doing to him, you needn't be," Aquilla said, standing up and circling around the table to stand behind his guest. He reached around Euphonius and began to unlace his shirt, but the merchant pulled away from him.

"I said I want out of this."

"But why?" Aquilla persisted, shifting his hands to Euphonius' shoulders and massaging the back of his neck. Gods, the little bastard was tense as a scared virgin!

"What you want to do to that man -- I don't --"

"He is my slave," Aquilla interrupted him. "You are not. He will serve me after you leave. Come now, Euphonius," he went on, trying to sound reasonable and drawing his business persona around him to calm the merchant's fears. He slid his hands carressingly down the man's arms. "We are two consenting adults --"

"He's not," Euphonius protested.

"Forget about him." Aquilla's hands moved lower and circled around the other man's chest, to brush his nipples through the light fabric of his shirt. "I won't force you, but I know you want it, and so do I," he said, his breath soft against Euphonius' ear.

Euphonius felt his cock stir in response. Oh yes, he wanted it. He wanted the gorgeous slave, whose beautiful body he'd barely glimpsed earlier. But even more than that, he wanted Aquilla's hands on him, wanted that demanding cock, wanted to be the focus of this man's desire and give himself willingly into his control. Oh gods, if he kept on thinking like this, he'd end up selling himself into slavery!

Aquilla smiled, very sure he could read the other man's thoughts from the expression on his face. "Do you want to feel what he did?" he suggested. "The helplessness of domination?"

Remembering the chains binding the blond-haired man, and recalling all he had seen of true slavery, Euphonius recognized the all-consuming fire he was playing with here. "No," he said firmly. "I know what you're trying to do to him and I want no part of it."

Aquilla just laughed and played with a lock of Euphonius' hair. "My naive little friend, you don't know anything about it at all. Besides, he's a slave. He's legally mine, and what I choose to do to him is none of your business, is it now?"

Prying himself out of Aquilla's grasp, Euphonius took out the pouch of gold coins that had been the price of the sapphire. He set it pointedly in front of him on the table. It was more than he'd hoped to be able to get for the stone and he needed it badly, but still -- "I don't suppose you'd consider selling him to me, would you?"

Aquilla laughed again. "You want him? You wouldn't know what to do with him." Then Aquilla laughed even harder. "No, you want to free him. How sweet, hoping he'll let you fuck him because he's grateful. Take him away from here and set him free?" Aquilla's face and voice got hard. "I don't think so."

"That's what I figured, but I had to try," was the tight-lipped reply. It was almost with relief that Euphonius took back his money. Almost, but not quite.

He stood up from the table. "I'm going now."

Before he could make a move toward the door, Aquilla was behind him with a hand wrapped in his hair. "You little fool. Do you think you can just walk out on me like that?" he hissed.

"Let go."

Aquilla's response was to pull him back against his body, reaching the other hand around to his hard cock. "You want me. You know you do."

"I do. But not like this. That's a man in there, a human being. Let me go."

Aquilla tightened his grip on the merchant's hair and pulled his head back harder. "I could own you too. It wouldn't be too difficult. No one knows you're here."

Euphonius winced and swallowed hard. "As you said, he's your slave. I'm not. Let go of me, Aquilla." When Aquilla didn't respond, he continued. "And there is one difference. I told the innkeeper where I was going and with whom. A precaution when you live on the road." It was a blatant lie. No one knew where he was, and Euphonius had to admit to himself that he was genuinely afraid of Aquilla, in more ways than one.

His voice was cold, his body tense and stiff in the other man's grasp. Aquilla realized that Euphonius would be no further use to him like this, and the landowner was annoyed that he had misjudged the extent of his defiance. He could keep him for a while if he wanted to, but the man's threat that someone knew where he was set him back just a bit. Aquilla released him suddenly, shoving him forward as he did so.

Euphonius stumbled, then caught himself on the edge of the doorway.

"Go on then, you wimp. Get out. I don't need you. You were nothing but a brief diversion. I was using you to break the slave. Take that thought along with your precious conscience and get out. You are a sorry comparison to him anyway."

His knees weak with a combination of fear and desire, Euphonius wanted to say something in answer to his cruel dismissal. Instead, and for once in his life, he kept his big mouth shut and beat a hasty retreat out the door, followed by his host's scornful laughter.

Getting his horse from the stable, he rode away just as quickly as he could from Aquilla's estate, counting himself very lucky indeed to have gotten off so easily. He had his money, and his dubious virtue was still relatively intact.

But the memory of the unfortunate slave still left in Aquilla's grasp continued to haunt him. As the road opened out into the countryside and he kicked his horse into a gallop, Euphonius sent up a fervent prayer to whatever gods might be listening for the welfare of that poor man's spirit, if not his body. There was nothing else he could do for him.

Later, Aquilla went to his room. It had taken him a while to calm down after the stupid merchant's defiance. He had wanted to rape the man over the table, making him beg and bleed. His one consolation was, he had done just that and his slave had heard it. The smile that crossed his face was one of dark joy.

"Come here," Aquilla ordered gently, after he opened the door to the slave's room. "What did you do to make Cassius so angry at you?" he asked, as if shocked to see Iolaus ankle-chained to the bed with his hands bound tightly behind his back.

"I was -- he walked in on me while I was trying to get off."

"And to chain you to the bed." Aquilla took hold of Iolaus' arm to help him off the floor. He watched in satisfaction as the slave's cock began to swell. He turned him away from him and gently ran his hands down the slave's arms.

"He wouldn't even let me out on the veranda," Iolaus complained.

"Easy. Hold still, and let me get your arms unlocked. How long have you been like this?" Aquilla questioned, as he slowly released the manacles. He heard a sigh of relief as the pressure on the man's arms eased.

"Four days," Iolaus said, turning around, only to find himself wrapped in Aquilla's arms with his mouth being invaded as Aquilla kissed him deeply. He pulled away, pushing at the man's chest. No, he wouldn't give in again. Not again!

"I thought we had gotten past this, pet," Aquilla said, in a bored tone, taking in the beautiful cock standing hard against the linen around his little body slave's waist. His anger mixed with his desire and he had a hard time not throwing the man down and brutally raping him.

"You got me drunk, that's all that happened."

"That's not what your body is telling me." Aquilla chuckled darkly. He took a step forward, knowing he was herding Iolaus against a wall. "A simple kiss," he said dismissingly.

"No. I can't give myself to you," Iolaus said, with his head down. But his voice was weak and lacked conviction.

This was more than Aquilla could handle. He grabbed the slave's arm and pulled him fully up against him, stroking his erection and watching him twist. In a cruel tone, Aquilla informed him, "Fine, then we go back to the old way." He slung the slave from the room and into the playroom.

Iolaus crouched in a fighting stance as Aquilla followed him into the playroom. Iolaus saw his outline as he stood in the lit doorway and he heard the landowner threaten, "If you fight me, I will give you to Cassius permanently." He entered the darkened room. "Is that what you want?"

"No," Iolaus replied.

Good, Aquilla thought. He had heard the fear in the slave's voice, and he could use that fear.

"Then don't fight me. I don't want to have to see you hurt again," he said, softening his tone. He stepped up to his slave and held out his hand, pulling him up from the defensive crouch he had adopted. Pulling the slave against his body, he stroked the golden hair.

"Better," he soothed. He gently ran his hand over the slave's neck and kissed him again. Slowly, the landowner deepened the kiss as he felt a response, and then stroked himself against the other man's groin. He heard the aborted moan from the body slave.

"Please, don't. Don't make me do this."

"Be honest with yourself; you want it," he said, as he once more kissed the slave and carressed his body. "You want my hands on you, owning you, making you respond to me." Again the quiet groan. "Or do I have to get you drunk again, so you have something to hide behind?"

"I don't need to hide behind that. I know it," his slave admitted, as Aquilla slid one hand over the linen-covered ass. He almost melted against the landowner. Iolaus' mind screamed no, but his body screamed yes. "Don't make me betray him," came the whispered plea.

"Isn't it he that has betrayed you, by not coming and finding you?" Aquilla stepped away from the man, going into the outer room to return with a goblet and a pitcher of wine. "Were you the sole man in his life? Has he never had another lover."

"Stop it!" The reaction was more than Aquilla had hoped for. That previous lover had obviously hurt him badly. Yes, my sweet slave, he told himself, tonight you will be mine. It will be too easy now.

"So there was? Was he a bigger man than you?" Aquilla asked, picking on his most likely insecurity, his small stature.

"It was a woman."

"He left you, for a woman?" Aquilla asked, truly surprised. Was the man an idiot?

Iolaus cringed as the warm hands closed over his shoulders. He knew he was losing this battle. Hercules where are you? he screamed in his mind. The hand slid to his waist and untied the cloth. He stood naked before the other man, and even though Iolaus knew it was coming, he didn't pull away and Aquilla's hand closed over his cock. He moaned.

"Come to me, pet."

"I have a name!" Iolaus screamed a final defense to the man's relentless attack on his senses.

"Not unless I say you do!" He led the slave over to the rack. This was one of his favorite 'toys'. A wooden frame that alllowed access to both the front and the back of the person restrained. Most people used rope or chain, but Aquilla liked silk. The folded ties fed through holes in the apparatus to be tied off on the sides. It had a wide base to give stability to the device. He remembered ordering it, he had gotten several stares, especially with the 'extras' he had ordered.

Aquilla lifted Iolaus' face and thought of the stone that would match his eyes so nicely. Then Euphonius crossed his mind, but he bit back the surge of anger at the thought of the merchant. He gestured to Iolaus' hands, and when the man tensed, he gently soothed, stroking his face, "You know I won't hurt you here."

Iolaus numbly allowed himself to be tied to the wood frame of the rack. When he was secured, Aquilla run his hands over the man's back.

"He's left you, and gone to another," he said, preying on his victim's weaknesses. "I will never let you leave here. Make your choice, pet." He bit gently at the slave's shoulders and neck, knowing it was a sensitive area and watching the man shudder.

"Please, I crave to hear my name!"

"Let me kiss you, and I will say it." Aquilla smiled, as the slave lowered his head and then nodded. You are mine, pet, and you don't even know it yet.

Aquilla moved in front of the man and swelled at the sight of the helpless body before him. He captured Iolaus' lips and seduced him in one kiss. He knew what the hunter craved and he rubbed his body against the slave's, feeling the man's cock jump at the contact. He ran his hands roughly over the body, groaning as the slave himself groaned and tried to rub back against his body. As the man thrust, Aquilla lifted his head and leaned over and in an intimate gesture whispered, "Iolaus."

When he heard his slave's ragged sigh, he knew he had timed it perfectly.

"Thank you," came the whisper.

Aquilla kissed the man gently again, then drew a finger down his cheek and asked, "Your choice?"

"I have no choice."

"Don't act like you have been sentenced to rowing in a galley, pet. Your life here will be good," Aquilla said, moving to a table behind the slave. "As long as you behave, I will allow you some freedoms."

Iolaus lowered his head even farther, but the sight of his own erection only added to his self-loathing.

"I will even allow you this," Aquilla whispered, as he removed the collar from the slave's neck. "You are beautiful, Iolaus." Aquilla lifted the man's face and kissed him gently.

Iolaus felt Aquilla's hand move between them, and he could not suppress the groan as his cock was grasped and gently stroked.

Aquilla moved behind the bound man and continued his attentions. He waited until the slave dropped his head back, and then he lowered his head to the man's neck and marked it with his teeth. He swelled as the man writhed and pushed into his hand.

"You are beautiful," Aquilla whispered, as Iolaus stroked up into his hand. "Let go for me. Let me make it good for you. I know what you want, what you need."

Iolaus leaned back against the larger body and did as he was asked. He closed his mind to thought and let himself sink into the overwhelming pleasure that coursed through him.

"Admit it for me," Aquilla encouraged, continuing his insistent ministrations. He brought his free hand to the man's chest, pinching the hardened nipples just enough to make it sting. His slave grunted and groaned each time.

"There'll be nothing left," Iolaus moaned, more to himself than to anyone else.

"Only the truth." Aquilla reached down and weighed the slave's balls. "Say it," he insisted, biting at the man's neck.

Iolaus was fighting it, but wasn't this man speaking his own worst fears, bringing them into the light? Hercules should have been here by now. Had he found someone new? Would he just leave him here? Had he grown bored with his lifetime companion? Or was he himself really just fighting against what his father had said so many years ago, that he was too pretty to be anything but a whore, a catamite? He couldn't think. It had been so long since he had been touched and held like this.

"Admit it, you like my hands on you."

"Yes," Iolaus groaned. The hands moved back to his chest, stroking, teasing, holding him close. His breathing became ragged.

"I know how to excite you," Aquilla continued remorselessly.

"Yes," came a tighter reply, as the man got more excited.

Aquilla leaned over and picked something up. Come my pretty. Enter my web, he thought triumphantly.

If Iolaus could have seen the smile on the landowner's face, he would have recoiled from the cruelty reflected in those steel-grey eyes, but he was unaware of all that as Aquilla oiled the phallus he held in his hand.

"Do you want to come?" Aquilla asked his oblivious slave, leaning against him.

"Yes," he cried. He was so close. And that hand still working his cock was driving him crazy with frustration. "Oh, yes, let me come!"

"Stand up."

He struggled to his feet, wanting the touching to continue. Aquilla never released his cock, continuing the slow and maddening rhythm.

"Be still," Aquilla ordered, and slid the phallus between the bound man's cheeks.

"No!" Iolaus tried to pull away but he had allowed himself to be tied up.

"Easy," Aquilla soothed. "Don't get tense. Relax for me." He slowly began to push the smoothed end into the bound body. He heard the man gasp as he pushed open the tight ring of muscles.

Iolaus felt Aquilla's hand close over his cock again as he slowly worked the phallus into him. Soon, he couldn't control his body's reaction to the dual stimulations. He groaned and leaned forward, allowing Aquilla the access to his body that he wanted. Soon he was breathing hoarsely, trying to hold himself motionless as the other man stroked in and out of him with the phallus.

"Good, pet," Aquilla soothed. "Admit it, and I'll get you off," he demanded in a darker tone, knowing this was the moment. He angled the phallus directly at the prostate, stroking it over and over. The bound man cried out. "I can keep this up for hours, pet," Aquilla crooned. He knew the man was close to release, so he backed off, changing rhythm, drawing another anguished groan from him. Two more times he brought him to the absolute edge and then backed off.

"Admit it, pet. Admit you want me, you're my slave."

He heard the strangled cry and then the man began to buck against his hand, trying to get himself off. A cruel grin twisted his lips and Aquilla abruptly stopped. His slave writhed in anguished frustration and Aquila watched his victim break at last.

"I'm your slave! I want your hands on me! I want your touch -- master!" Iolaus all but screamed, shedding the last vestiges of his pride and dignity.

Aquilla laughed darkly and allowed the slave to come. Then he lifted the beautiful face and kissed him, holding him close.

"That was the hardest time, my pet," he soothed, not caring in the least about the tears Iolaus shed, but only that he had just delivered himself fully into Aquilla's hands. Aquilla could only think of his own aching cock and the joys that accompanied introducing this man to intense pain and pleasure.

Aquilla held and cuddled the bound man, hearing the ragged breathing and watching his shoulders shake. He held the slut until he had calmed and then, releasing him from the rack, allowed him wine, still holding him and cuddling him. He knew that if he tried to press his advantage tonight, he might well destroy what little spirit the man had left and he didn't want a completely docile slave. Oh no, he wanted some fight still left in him. He wanted to see the other man bend himself to his master's will, to present that perfect ass, to fear and desire his touch, to suck his cock when he commanded him to and swallow his cum.

Aquilla smiled as he remembered how he had told the slave he didn't like the chains. He loved that blond in chains, and would keep him there, chained to his bed, that beautiful cock hard as Aquilla drove himself into his ass to the sounds of his body slave's grunts and groans and pleas for completion and when Aquilla was ready, then he would allow the man his pleasure. He would learn to beg, Aquilla darkly promised himself. Oh yes, he would learn to beg properly.

Iolaus awoke to a gentle touch. He had been dreaming of Hercules. His eyes fluttered open, half expecting to see trees around him and to feel his fair-haired lover stroking his face. Then he sat bolt upright as the images of the night before crashed into the sweet dream. He looked around wildly, only to see Aquilla's calm face.

"Ah, I see those moans were not a dream regarding me."

Iolaus didn't know what to do. He stared somewhat wild-eyed at the man sitting on his bed. Then he realized he had risen to his knees, clutching a blanket to his chest. He forced his breathing to calm as he got up off the bed and went to the basin to wash himself.

"You startled me," he said, trying to sound composed.

"I can see that." Aquilla chuckled. "Calm yourself, I have no intention of raping you, although if you don't cover yourself a little better, I just might."

Iolaus glanced around nervously. He didn't see the waistcloth, so he wrapped the blanket around his waist, and then splashed cold water on his face. He stayed there with his back to Aquilla, not sure what to do next.

"Iolaus," Aquilla said gently. "Come here. Sit down and relax." He watched the slave's reaction to the sound of his name. The other man turned and sat as far from Aquilla as he thought he could without angering him, but found nothing to say. All he could do was stare lamely at his toes sticking out from under the edges of the blanket.

Aquilla watched him closely. He was pleased. The slave was clearly frightened of both Aquilla and his reactions the night before, but there were no tears, no hysterics.

"It's late. You missed breakfast."

"Oh," came the quiet reply. "I'm not really hungry."

"Well, if you want to go work in the fields today, you had better eat, and find your breechclout. I imagine that lifting could be quite painful without some support."

The hunter looked up at him with sudden hope in his eyes. "You'll let me go out?"

"Of course, if that's what you want. I assumed, after the last time and since Cassius has kept you locked in here for the last week, you might want to go outside and get some exercise."

"Oh yeah." The slave got up and headed out into the other room. The waistcloth was by the door, right where Aquilla had put it this morning. He watched the man slow down as he approached it.

"The rules still apply. If you try to run, I will have you hamstrung. And instead of your room, you'll stay in here."

"I won't run. I gave you my word," came a somewhat angry reply. Aquilla smiled to himself. Good, he had some fight left. Just the way he wanted it.

There was a knock at the door, and Aquilla called entry. It was Cassius.

"Sir, we need supplies from town. I was going to take the wagon and several slaves."

"Fine. When do the work crews leave for the fields?" Aquilla asked.

"I was holding them until I talked to you."

"Take any of them that are strong enough to do the work, as long we can trust them not to run."

Cassius nodded.

As Iolaus rode out in the wagon to the fields, he had no idea he was being watched. Aquilla had used another slave last night, and he would heal soon. Aquilla stroked himself as the sun bounced off the blonde's hair. Tonight, my sweet. Tonight we start the real game, he told himself.

Iolaus worked in the fields that day, thinking. He was completely unaware of the dark side of Aquilla and only thought on what he had seen. The man was not someone he loved, but Iolaus had to admit there was an attraction there. Besides, it had been six weeks. It had never taken Hercules this long to find him. He admitted he might not ever escape this house, and he couldn't deny he had had opportunities, but after last night -- he glanced out over the river. Could he face Hercules after last night? Could he face himself in Hercules' presence after last night? There was a strange knotting in his belly. No, he couldn't, he decided. He had betrayed his lover last night. He tried to be honest with himself and he was suddenly ashamed of what he had done, but this was reality. He had to deal with it. By himself

He had always wondered if this moment would come, the moment he would have to turn his back on Hercules for the demigod's own good. He had realized that, at some point in time during the day, Aquilla had discovered Iolaus' weakness. Iolaus himself had discovered it the year he had left Greece. He actually liked to be dominated.

He had never told Herc, and for good reason. Getting the guy to admit he loved Iolaus had been tough enough; to tell him the hunter wanted him to use him, dominate him, force him, was way beyond the demigod's grasp and way too much like Zeus for Hercules to be able to accept.

He knew when they had first admitted their love, there would be a price to pay, and this was it. Iolaus would treasure the months he had had with Hercules, but after going over them in his mind, tears streaming down his face, he put them away, knowing he was lost to his beloved friend. He didn't really think Herc had abandoned him, he just couldn't find him. And maybe never would.

Quietly Iolaus whispered, "Aphrodite, I know you can hear me, 'cause this is coming from my heart. Keep Hercules away and find him someone new. Don't let him see me this way, please." Then he turned to the east, somehow knowing that's where Hercules was. As a tear slipped from his eye, he again whispered, "Goodbye, my love."

He kissed his own fingertips and lifted the kiss to the air. "Take care of him for me, 'Dite. Please take care of him."


End of Part 1

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