This is a sequel. If you haven't already done so, you should read Part I first.
Standard Guys - I don't own them, some bigwig does. I promise to give them back - sooner or later.
As always - many thanks to Euphonius for the editing help.
"On your knees, pet," came a growled order. Iolaus complied, and was soon lost as Aquilla opened him and used him. After the blond warrior had begged well enough to suit his master, Aquilla had allowed him release.
Iolaus collapsed to the bed with the older man on top of him.
"Good morning," Aquilla whispered in his ear, following the words with his tongue.
"Oh yeah, good morning," Iolaus panted. There was a knock at the door and Aquilla pulled out, extracting a gasp from the hunter.
"Please release me," Iolaus asked, as the other man drew his robe on.
Aquilla just threw the covers over his slave's hips. "Come, pet. Cassius has seen more than this." He laughed, sitting down beside the hunter's head. He knew it would embarrass the slave to have Cassius see him tied out on Aquilla's bed. He met his slave's eyes, again pleased with how the gemstone he had bought from the merchant brought out the blue eyes of his body slave.
He remembered the night he had given it to him. Aquilla felt his cock swell at the thought That had been the first night the slut had voluntarily taken him in his mouth. He had come down the slave's throat, and as he knelt on the floor, naked before him, Aquilla had tied the intricately knotted headband onto his slave, telling him how pleased he was with him, how expensive the stone was, how important the slave was to him.
He laughed to himself at the memory, wondering how much longer before he could truly start inflicting pain on his precious pet, and how long before he broke.
He had already begun to decorate the slave's body: the gold earring, the blue sapphire headband, and the nipple ring. He loved to see them all, and to watch how the muscular arms bunched around the gold armlets, but the decoration that Aquilla loved the most was his own teeth marks on the slave's body.
Iolaus turned his head from the door. Aquilla knew the pet didn't like his position announced, or to have people see him this way, with his arms stretched out to either side of the headboard, along with the chain running from his collar to the headboard, but with his lower body free. Chained up like the good little pet he was.
"Good morning, Aquilla," Cassius greeted his employer as he came in the door.
"Cassius," Aquilla replied, and began idly stroking Iolaus' hair.
"That shipment has arrived in town. You want me to have it picked up today?"
"Yes," Aquilla responded. That seed would be next year's crop. "How many men will you need?"
"One strong slave should be able to do it. Is there anything else you want?"
"Tell, Denius to get me more wine. I liked that last red." They continued to talk business, and as they talked, Aquilla released the chains that bound Iolaus. He smiled to himself as the man sat on the far side of the bed, with the covers pulled over his lap. Then he looked back at Cassius.
"Who are you taking?" Before Cassius could answer, Aquilla suggested, "Why don't you take this one?"
"I don't trust him not to run."
"It's been three weeks since he started in the fields and he hasn't tried to run."
"This is in town. Far more tempting to one like him."
"Will you run, pet?" Aquilla asked gently. He saw Iolaus' back tense at the title.
"I gave you my word that I wouldn't."
"You see, Cassius?"
"I still don't trust him."
"Fine. Then chain him to the cart," Aquilla said, standing up.
Iolaus sat upright, more in shock than anything else. Aquilla was changing and Iolaus was getting the idea he was in real trouble. Up until the last week, although very strong, Aquilla had not abused him, but that was slowly starting to creep in.
"As you wish, Aquilla." Cassius knew the landowner well enough to know he had something up his sleeve.
When the door closed, Iolaus rose from the bed and snatched up his waistcloth. He was tying it on, when Aquilla pulled him back against his chest.
"You don't like the idea of being chained to a cart?"
"No. I gave you my word. I haven't lied to you, you have no reason to --"
Aquilla's hands tightened on Iolaus' arms and turned the hunter to face him. "Don't question me."
"Then don't treat me like a dog!" Iolaus bravely responded. Aquilla's drew back his hand and Iolaus pulled away slightly from the expected blow.
"Do not anger me, pet. Or perhaps another night in the playroom will teach you a lesson."
Iolaus shuddered involuntary as the memories came back to him. He remembered being tied to the rack. Up until that night, he hadn't feared that device. Now he was avoiding being tied to it again. He remembered the feel of the needle piercing his nipple and the cold metal of a gold ring being inserted into his body. Or how Aquilla had used the golden ring, sucking on it, moving it, so that despite the pain, Iolaus had become excited. The feeling of the phallus sliding into his body and being left there, so that every time the hunter had moved his body, he had tortured himself. How he had begged that night, begged his master to allow him release!
That was the night Aquilla had begun to change, inflicting pain and humiliation on the hunter. Iolaus looked at the ring still adorning his body. Aquilla had had it welded shut, so that it could not be removed. He also noted the gold armbands, emphasizing his body to the casual gaze.
Aquilla waited until he felt Iolaus' body relax.
"Forgive me," Iolaus said.
"I believe we discussed this, pet." Aquilla was using the term intentionally.
Iolaus was quiet for a moment.
"Forgive me, master."
"Very good," Aquilla replied, releasing his hold on his slave.
He watched as Iolaus brushed his hair and tied it back with the leather headband holding the blue sapphire. Aquilla smiled. The slave had backed down. Good. Aquilla was pleased as Iolaus sought permission and left the room.
Later on, in town, Iolaus turned to pick up another sack of grain.
He felt himself lifted from the ground and kissed. At first, he tried to pull away, until he recognized who held him. Hercules! Oh, gods, it was him! The hunter's heart leapt for joy, only to plummet immediately to despair.
"Put him down!" came Cassius' voice.
Iolaus went stiff in the demigod's arms. "Put me down, Herc," he whispered. "Please, put me down."
Hercules looked behind Iolaus and saw a big man holding a whip. The man drew it back and popped it near his friend, and the demigod felt the hunter jump and cringe in fear. He lowered Iolaus to the ground, never completely releasing him and looked at him for a moment, truly looked at him.
He had been searching for Iolaus for almost two months now, backtracking the paths he thought his friend might have taken. He had already been through this town once but had come back to it, when no one in the next town had ever seen him. He stayed at a tavern and found a note on his bed that read, "Your friend is here."
Herc had stayed in town, hoping. When he had first caught sight of the unmistakable form of his lover, all else had fled from his mind. Now he saw other things: the gold on his body, the waistcloth, and the chain around his ankle.
"Iolaus, what happened?"
"Long story, Herc," the hunter replied, with his head down. Hercules noticed how Iolaus kept glancing back at the man with the whip.
"Get back to work, slave," the man growled.
"Iolaus?" His grip tightened on the hunter's arm, a question in his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Hercules. It was a fight at the inn. They sold me for damages," the hunter said plaintively.
Iolaus felt himself lifted by his arms. "You're a slave?!" Hercules exclaimed incredulously.
Iolaus sadly lowered his head and nodded.
"Slave, I said --" Cassius interrupted.
"Please let me explain it to him," Iolaus requested, still unable to meet his lover's eyes.
"You either start loading that wagon or I start using this whip."
"Put me down," Iolaus whispered to the demigod. "Herc, please! Unless you want to see me beaten, put me down."
Hercules released him and Iolaus lifted another bag of grain. The demigod reached to help him until the whip popped again. He met the man's eyes, anger burning fiercely in his heart.
"Move on," Cassius ordered, menacing Iolaus with the whip. He had found the big man's soft spot.
"Who owns him?" Hercules demanded.
"Aquilla. But don't waste your time, he won't sell him. Now move on!"
"I'll get you out of this, Iolaus, I promise."
No, forget about me, Iolaus thought, watching wretchedly as the demigod walked off. Just forget you ever knew me.
"Don't get your hopes up, pet," Cassius growled. "Aquilla ain't going to sell his favorite body slave."
That afternoon as they came back into the gates of Aquilla's estates, they saw the landowner astride a black horse. Iolaus could see the horse fighting the bit and Aquilla fighting to keep his seat.
"Oh Hades, not the black again," Cassius muttered. "You had better hope he rides that horse, slave, or your night is going to be anything but pleasant."
Cassius pulled the wagon up, as Aquilla once again tried to get the horse to move forward. It balked and reared, pawing at the air, screaming its anger. Then both Iolaus and Cassius watched as the horse lost its balance and fell over backwards. Aquilla hit hard, as both Iolaus and Cassius vaulted the fence. Iolaus grabbed the reins of the horse and led it quickly away from Aquilla, so the upset animal didn't trample him.
Cassius helped his master to his feet. "Are you okay?"
Aquilla readjusted his grip on the riding crop he had in his hand, and stalked towards the horse. "I'm fine, but this animal is going to learn that I will ride him."
Iolaus saw the anger burning in Aquilla's eyes, and without thinking stepped forward.
"Please -- master. The horse is frightened. Let me calm him first, before you try again." He smiled at Aquilla. "Would you like a glass of wine?"
The man stopped and stared at his slave searchingly. "Yes, I would, Iolaus."
Iolaus smiled, tied the horse off to a rail, and hurried to get Aquilla wine. He knew the problem solved for the moment, and Aquilla's anger appeased, since he had spoken Iolaus' name.
Once Aquilla was settled on the porch drinking his wine, Iolaus went back to the fine black stallion. Speaking softly to him, he untied him and led him around the enclosure. Then when the horse was acquainted with his smell and attitude, he swung up into the saddle, grateful for the breechclout he had on. He sat there for a moment, and then began to pet the horse's neck and speak to him gently.
"You ought to just sell that horse, boss," Cassius said carefully. "The man said no one had ever ridden him. He might be the type of animal that can't be ridden."
"I can tame any animal!" Aquilla retorted angrily. "As the blond on top of the stud attests, Cassius."
"Oh, speakin' of the pet," Cassius began, moving away from Aquilla. "Someone in town today came up to him. Uh, the name was Hercules and I can guarantee you, he was the man the pet used to bed."
"What?!" Aquilla demanded quietly.
Cassius nodded, hoping his employer didn't decide to kill the messenger. "Big fella too, boss. I got him to move on, but he don't strike me as the kind who gives up easy."
Aquilla stared angrily at Cassius.
Then Cassius' eyes focused past him, and the man whispered, "By Zeus' beard! Look! The pet's ridin' him."
Aquilla turned. Iolaus rode the horse around the enclosure like the cursed beast was a lady's riding horse. His anger became a fire of ice in his belly.
Cassius knew this was the time to get out of the area, because Aquilla was likely to go off on any little thing at this moment, and anyone who got in the way of his anger was more than likely going to bleed.
Aquilla walked to the enclosure as Iolaus slid off the horse, holding out the reigns.
"Master, he has a soft mouth, a pressure--" Iolaus began, seeing the dangerous glint in Aquilla's eyes.
"Fine!" Aquilla grabbed the reins, wrapping them tightly around his hand, causing the horse to prance. Then he pulled up into the saddle.
Iolaus cringed, but knew he had done all he could. He moved back away from the fight, and a fight it was. Then the horse first bowed its back, made a stiff leg jump and then arched. Aquilla was vaulted over the horse's head -- into the manure pile.
"Charon, take me now," Cassius muttered, as he and Iolaus ran towards the man who was angrily extracting himself from the odorous pile. The horse stood there, shaking, breathing deeply. As they got near, Iolaus again went to the horse, not sure if he could keep a straight face. He turned and jumped back as Aquilla thrust with a sword.
However, the scream of the stallion told Iolaus what had happened. He watched as the horse fell to its knees, screaming, the sword sticking out its chest. He continued to watch helplessly as the horse began to bleed out.
Aquilla stomped back to the house. "No one, not even a stupid animal, does that to me!" he screamed uncharacteristically.
Iolaus looked at the animal and withdrew the sword, mercifully finishing the job that Aquilla had started. His hands shook, not from what Aquilla had done, but as the realization that the man who had just murdered a fine stud in a rage of temper was the man who owned him. Iolaus had made a serious mistake giving in to him. He should have kept fighting.
"Pet, if I were you, I would hide for a while. He knows about your buddy," Cassius said.
Iolaus stood there for a moment, undecided. He went to Aquilla's room and saw him in his quarters, undressing for a bath. He entered the room cautiously and was told, "Unless you want to feel my wrath - leave!"
Iolaus did so quietly, going to the main baths and cleaning up. He kept a low profile in his room with the door to Aquilla's room closed. He sat on his bed and considered his situation.
Why now? Why did Hercules have to show up now? Four weeks ago would have been much better, but all Iolaus could see for himself and for the demigod was pain. Aquilla wouldn't let him go.
Iolaus sat suddenly upright. Wait a minute, hadn't Aquilla said he'd sell him for fifteen gold pieces? If Herc could come up with that amount of money, there was a chance. The only person he knew with that kind of money was Iphicles and then they were going to have to eat Iph's crow for years over it.
Of course, there was a very real possibility that Aquilla would renege on the offer.
He lay back down, disgusted. What about what he had done? Would Hercules ever be able to forgive him? He couldn't lie to himself or to anyone else: after that time when he had bid his lover good-bye in his mind, he had gone to Aquilla willingly. Could Hercules forgive him for that? And what about the way he looked now? The jewely, the marks, oh gods, what could Hercules be thinking of him now.
How could he explain that? He was certain that Aquilla would tell Hercules that he was his willing body slave.
Oh gods, Herc, please forget about me and leave!
Suddenly he heard the bolt to the outer door to his room thrown, and the one to Aquilla's also. Iolaus jumped to his feet. They had locked him in. Why? Hercules must be here. He started pacing anxiously, keeping it up until dinner, when he was finally released and taken to the dining area.
Aquilla sat alone. Iolaus served him quietly and well.
"I had a visitor today, pet."
Iolaus offered him a cup of wine, not meeting his owner's eyes. He was unprepared for the hand in his hair and the harsh demand, "Who is he, pet?"
"He's my friend."
Aquilla threw Iolaus across the room and then kicked him viciously. "I don't think so, pet. Now, we'll try that again: who is he?"
"He's the one," Iolaus admitted.
"So you were the mighty Hercules' catamite. I had no idea you were that important. No wonder you wouldn't speak his name!" He kicked the cringing slave again. Iolaus struggled to his knees and bowed his head. "Do you think I am so stupid?" Aquilla snarled, as he lifted the other man's head cruelly by the hair.
"No," Iolaus hissed back, through teeth clenched in pain. "I prayed to whatever god claims this cursed town that Hercules would never find me. I've betrayed him. He'll never forgive me for that! Never!"
"Get out of my sight!" Aquilla ordered. Iolaus left the room.
Aquilla drank. What to do, what to do? What would his father have done? He laughed drunkenly. His father, his dear, sweet father. He remembered the chain of events so clearly.
As a young boy, trying to please his demanding father, Aquilla had decided to ride the biggest horse in the stables. The horse had, of course, thrown him, breaking his arm as he hit the barn. His father calling him a baby for crying and then insisting he get back on the horse and ride it. Over and over, being thrown from the horse. Finally his father climbed on behind and rode the horse into the ground holding his son in front of him.
"Never lose a fight, never back down, break them to your will," his father had told him. "But you'll never be a man, crying because you got thrown from a horse. You are no son of mine." The man strode into the house, leaving the groom to set the boy's arm.
Next, in the summer of his fifteenth year, his lover, a younger boy from a neighboring farm, had tried to break off the relationship. The boy's father had found out and forbade him to see Aquilla anymore. Aquilla losing his temper and then slapping the boy all the way across the loft of the barn. The look of fear in the boy's eyes, and how Aquilla had ordered him to lower his pants as his father's voice echoed in his ears. He had brutally raped his lover, told him it wasn't over until he said so. He used that boy, despite the beatings the boy took from his father for sneaking out, but when he didn't come to him, Aquilla hurt him worse than his father could have. The boy's father had gone to Aquilla's father, telling him what had happened. Aquilla had admitted what he had done, certain of punishment. He had been surprised, amazed, when his father had clapped him on the back and said he was proud of him.
That was the beginning of his relationship with his father. Later on, grown into a man, Aquilla had been attracted to the darker side of domination. A cold smile curved his lips and he went upstairs.
"Come here, pet," Aquilla ordered, and smiled as Iolaus promptly came out of his room. Aquilla noticed the guarded look. "Playroom." He saw the slave's eyes dart to the locked door, and the sudden flash of fear that came over his face.
Satisfied, Aquilla turned and walked through the door, knowing full well his slave would follow him as ordered.
Soon, Aquilla had Iolaus tied to the rack, tighter than usual. He blindfolded the slave and left him there for a while, knowing it would heighten the bound man's fear. He re-entered the room and began to gather toys. He slid a cockring onto the slave's cock as it began to swell from apprehension.
"Body slave," he said in a disgusted tone, all the while stroking the cock as it jumped at his touch. "You'll let me do anything to you, won't you."
Iolaus was fighting with himself. He knew he was about to become a bone between Hercules and Aquilla and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Also, after Aquilla's little display of temper, he knew if Aquilla became truly angry at him, the landowner might well maim or kill him. To start to fight Aquilla would only bring a severe punishment down on his head, and hurt Hercules. And he wasn't sure he wanted to live through what Aquilla could do to him. It had been proven to him that he was vulnerable, and if he ran away, he had no doubt in his mind that Aquilla would follow him and he would be hamstrung, crippled.
"You own me," Iolaus replied. "I have no choice." His head snapped to the side as Aquilla slapped him hard. He added contritely, "Master."
"Don't even try it, pet," Aquilla ordered, as he picked up the phallus and drove it into Iolaus' body, relishing the cry of pain from the hunter. Then he pulled it completely back out and shoved it back in, eliciting another cry. He continued until Iolaus bore the pain in silence. Then he picked up a small piece of leather and tied it quite firmly around the bound man's balls, tightening it until his victim gave him what he wanted, another cry of pain. "Now do you believe you are mine?"
"I never doubted it, master, Not since the night --" Iolaus' head snapped to the other side. Aquilla attacked the nipple that wasn't pierced until it was also a hard nub. Iolaus wrapped his hand around the silk holding him in place, as a needle penetrated that nipple also. He dropped his head back, unable to deny his dick was standing hard. Every movement of his body moved the phallus deep within him over his prostate. It was driving him insane.
"I should brand you. See if your precious lover wants you then."
Iolaus held his silence.
Then Aquilla began to stroke his cock over Iolaus', playing with the nipple rings, kissing the hunter, brutally biting at his lips and face. He raised welt after welt on Iolaus' neck, marking him with his teeth. Then he roughly grabbed his cock and began to stroke him, knowing Iolaus couldn't get off. He saw the desperation on the hunter's face.
"Want it pet, don't you? You want me to fuck your ass hard."
"A slave begs release," Iolaus moaned plaintively.
"No!" Aquilla said, turning and walking out of the room.
Iolaus hung there for hours, hard, unable to touch himself or move, because every time he did, he moved the phallus. By the time Aquilla returned, Iolaus was rocking in the rack, the phallus stroking him. Iolaus knew he was torturing himself, but he couldn't stop.
"Slut!" Aquilla hissed. "You'd do anything to get off."
"Master, please let your slave come," Iolaus sobbed. "He begs, he needs your touch." Then he screamed when something hard made contact with his ass, and gasped as the phallus stroked into him.
"Like it, pet. Pain and pleasure."
"Master, please, a slave has done noth--"
Another blow across his ass.
Soon the hunter had tears sliding down his cheeks. Each blow, followed by a humiliating comment, and a flash of indescribable pleasure as the phallus moved against his prostate.
Aquilla untied the leather and proceeded to beat the slave's bright red ass again, until his body slave lost control and his seed splattered on the ground. Aquilla was rock hard, as he exercised his cruel control over the beautiful man in front of him. How his pet would beg for him!
Iolaus just hung limply from the rack and endured the punishment. Aquilla walked up and yanked the phallus from the man, and drove himself cruelly into him in its place. He had not bothered to oil the phallus and he hadn't oiled himself. His pet's cries of pain almost made him come immediately.
"I never showed you this feature, pet!"
Iolaus heard two clicks and suddenly he was forced to bend at the waist and was held there, while Aquilla raped him brutally. When Aquilla finally released him, he collapsed to his knees, crying out again as his momentum pulled the other man's still swollen member from his tender ass.
"So good, my sweet, sweet slut," Aquilla whispered. "You spread yourself so well for me. Does the mighty Hercules fuck you this well? Does he make you come like this? Does he know your secret?"
"And how will he deal with this revelation?" Aquilla persisted.
"I told you, I betrayed him. He will never forgive me for that," Iolaus said wretchedly.
"Then I guess you stay here, because tomorrow when he comes back, I intend to tell him exactly what you are to me and see if he's willing to pay for you." Iolaus shook his head, gut-wrenching humiliation tearing through him. "I'll even let you work outside these gates for your own freedom. But at night you come back to me. Your lover by day, your master by night."
"Master, please, don't."
"Oh yes, I will."
The next day, Iolaus was released from his room and taken to Aquilla's study to face Hercules. Once they closed the doors, Iolaus couldn't even look in Hercules' face. He had seen himself that morning when Aquilla had finally released him from his bed. His body was marked from top to bottom with bruises and bite marks.
At first, Iolaus had been relieved to be given the almost sheer linen for his hips, because he had seen the calculating look in Aquilla's eyes. Surely, not even Aquilla would send him to face his ex-lover naked, and for his own heart, that was what Iolaus now considered Hercules.
"Iolaus?" came the quiet question.
"Herc, just go, leave. Forget about me. I can't ask you to -- to work to pay for me." There he had given him the way to walk out the door with no bad feeling, Iolaus had sent him away.
"Iolaus, love." Hercules came to him and lifted his face, seeing the bruises. "I can't leave you here."
"You don't understand," Iolaus said. How did he explain to his best friend that this wasn't completely against his will? "I - I --"
"You've been to bed with him," Hercules stated, as if it were nothing.
"It's more than that." Iolaus turned away, unable to see the pain in his friend's eyes when he told him the truth
"Is it what he said?" the demigod questioned, pausing in his approach. "You like the way he treats you so much, you don't want to go with me? That he pleases you more?"
"No!" Iolaus cried, tears falling from his eyes. "I love you, but -- but -- look at me, Herc. Look at me! I'm his body slave."
Hercules stared at the abused body of his best friend, and had to fight down a rush of anger. He knew Iolaus well enough to know that he had to stay focused, not get mad. Otherwise, the hunter would blame himself.
"So, if I managed to come across 15 pieces of gold, you would leave with me?" Hercules asked, with that gentle smile
The light blue eyes came to his, and he saw a flash of hope. Hercules stroked his lover's face.
"In a heartbeat," Iolaus replied. "If you can forgive me."
This was it. Hercules was either going to walk out that door and never come back or he was going to hold the hunter to him. Iolaus took a deep breath. "Herc, I waited for you. I fought for a month, but you never came. This -- isn't completely against my will."
"You want it?" Hercules asked, doubting what he had heard.
Iolaus turned away. "I betrayed you. I stopped fighting him and -- I was willing," he finally admitted through his shame.
"I seem to remember sitting by a fire one night, trying to explain to you how I could have turned to another when I loved you so much," Hercules whispered, putting his hands on Iolaus' shoulders. "And if I remember correctly, I didn't have the excuse of being alone. You were there with me." He turned Iolaus back around to face him. "We can talk about anything else later. Right now, I need to know just one thing: Do you want out?"
"Yes!" Iolaus cried, throwing his arms around his lover and kissing him with abandon, an abandon that angered Aquilla, as he watched the two men through a cracked door. Never had the slave come to him like that! Never! He would teach the little runt.
"I'll send word to Iphicles. It'll take about two weeks," Hercules whispered in Iolaus' ear as he held him close, sensing they weren't as alone as it appeared they were.
"Herc, please listen to me. I need several favors from you. Aquilla said I could work outside the walls with you during the day. Can we do that? Please?"
"I guess so," Hercules responded. "What else?"
"I'm gonna get stuck in the middle, no matter what. Can you wait two weeks?" Iolaus meant sex. Although he desperately wanted to make love to Hercules, he didn't want to have Aquilla taint it in anyway. "It's important to me."
"I'll wait as long as you need me to," Hercules agreed, to the pleading look in his hunter's eyes.
Iolaus hugged him harder, tears once more in his eyes. "Thank you. Thank you for coming, for forgiving me. I don't deserve you, Herc, really I don't."
The demi-god stroked the mop of curls and held his beloved close. "Iolaus, he wants to talk to me again." Iolaus nodded and stood apart from him. "Are you in danger here?"
"If I try to run and he catches me, he'll hamstring me. I don't want to stay, but according to what he's told me, I am his property."
"I think it would be better to wait don't you? I mean, it is legal and if he owns you, he can send people to take you back," Hercules said, in his usual calm wisdom. "Besides, I'd rather have you free beside me."
"Yeah, I guess so, but -- two weeks?" Hercules heard the waiver in his lover's voice.
"You're afraid of this man, aren't you?"
"I am now. He's not going to take this well."
Iolaus didn't tell Hercules what he had seen with the horse, because the demigod was right, it was better to pay the man and gain his freedom, then be afraid everytime a stranger got near them.
Hercules gently lifted Iolaus' face. "I love you." A tear slid from Iolaus' eyes and Herc gently kissed it away. "Now let me talk to him again, and we can get started." Iolaus nodded. "We're gonna make it."
"I can't stay, Herc. I just can't face both of you. He'll use me against you and you against me."
"I understand, love. Go on. Later on today, we'll find jobs, okay?"
Iolaus nodded and left the room.
Another door opened and Aquilla came back in, his temper just barely under control. The slave would pay, oh yes! And his lover would see what that little blond was willing to do for him. He met the darker blue eyes of the demi-god, and proclaimed arrogantly, "Well, I know he's a good fu--"
"I won't preach about slavery, if you don't open that subject," Hercules said, holding his hand out. "Iolaus and I discussed it and we will work for his freedom."
Furious at the way the big man had casually interrupted him, Aquilla bit back a curse and said tightly, "Do you have any idea just exactly what he is?"
"The man I love," Hercules responded calmly, refusing to rise to the bait. "I'll wait outside the walls for him."
"When I make you see what he's really like, big man, you may not want him quite as much as you think you do," Aquilla said, barely able to contain his rage.
"We'll see," was the quiet answer.
Iolaus came out with his head down. Aquilla had only allowed him pants. No shirt, no shoes, and he hadn't removed any of the jewelry. The hunter nervously fingered a piece of paper.
"What's that?" Hercules asked his unusually quiet companion.
"Oh, Aquilla gave it to me. It says I can be off the property and as long as I'm inside the city limits, I'm not to be considered a runaway, and that I can earn a wage--" the hunter looked off to one side as his voice cracked. "I'm sorry, Hercules," he whispered.
"Iolaus, will you please stop apologizing? I've pulled some pretty stupid stunts of my own, on occasion." He stopped and looked into the blue eyes. "Beloved, this makes no difference to me." He ran his thumb down Iolaus' cheek, then held him close. "Now, let's find someone willing to go to Corinth, and get this started."
They found a young man willing to carry a message to Iphicles, and paid him a few dinars to go. Iolaus immediately went to the blacksmith, asking if he needed help.
The smith stared at him appraisingly for a moment. "You the one Aquilla got a few months back?" Iolaus nodded. "Here," he said, tossing him a pair of well-worn shoes. "My son's. Tell you what, I'll even pay you a little extra, seeing as how you've 'ad to put up with his hands on ya." Iolaus looked at the burly man and smiled. "I still think ya too small to swing a hammer proper."
"Give me a hammer and watch me go."
Hercules smiled and left. He got a job with a merchant, doing heavy work.
"Why can't I ever get the easy stuff?" the demi-god asked himself as he moved tables.
Iolaus appeared about 30 minutes before sundown.
"Can you take me back?"
Hercules looked at the merchant, who nodded. They walked silently for a while. Hercules noticed Iolaus was barefoot again. Then he felt Iolaus' hand slide into his and he squeezed it gently. At the gate, he gently kissed Iolaus and then laughed.
"I feel like I'm dating you."
Iolaus giggled at that mental picture. "I wish, make you behave yourself," Iolaus said, slapping at his arm playfully. Herc smiled as the old Iolaus showed through. But then the blue eyes lowered to the ground and his face fell. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Hercules nodded and watched the man he loved walk inside the gates to Aquilla. He suddenly wanted to just take Iolaus and run, but he couldn't do that without endangering the hunter. Slowly and sadly, he made his way back to town.
He ate at the tavern where he was staying. Suddenly, Hercules was very grateful that Iphicles was his brother. Otherwise, it would take them at least three months to earn the money. That would kill Iolaus' heart. The gods knew, it was hurt enough now.
Hercules sat back and looked around the tavern. He saw the older man that ran the place struggling with a keg of ale, so he went and helped the man put it up.
"Keep that up and I'll give you your room free," the grateful innkeeper panted.
"Tell you what, if you'll give me a smaller room and one meal a day, I'll do your heavy work for you," the demi-god offered. That would keep him where Iolaus could get to him in case of trouble.
"You got a deal, friend. There's a small room under the stairs. You'll probably bump your head a bit, but you'll get used to it. I'll even pay you, if you split that pile of wood out back."
Oh, could life get any better than this? Hercules thought to himself.
Meanwhile, Iolaus was desperately hoping his life would get better. The first thing Aquilla did was push him over his desk and rape him hard.
"You sorry slut, I freed you. You were happy, and now you're ready to leave with that disgustingly moral, holier than thou, do-gooder!" Aquilla hissed, as he thrust into the other man's body. When he finished, he threw him to the floor. "Prepare yourself to serve my dinner and my pleasure."
Iolaus bathed and dressed, remembering the incident with the horse all too vividly.
The next morning, Hercules was waiting as Iolaus limped outside.
"How long for that rider, Herc?"
"Two weeks. You okay?"
"I'll live." They walked in silence. "I feel like I've betrayed you, Hercules," Iolaus confessed. "You -- you don't have to do this. Just go on, leave me here."
"If you say that again, I'm going to paddle you."
Iolaus stopped in midstep. Hercules looked at him for a moment.
"I -- shouldn't have said that."
"Nooo," Iolaus agreed slowly. "At this moment, you should not have said that."
"Sorry." Hercules looked at him and smiled. "I'm not leaving you here."
"Herc, he's just playing games with us both. I mean look at me, I've got next to nothing on. Do you think the thought even occurred to him that I would be working around hot sparks? He wants you to see me looking like a whore. He wants everyone to see me like this!"
"I know. He's trying to make us both think constantly of what he does to you, and trying to embarrass you so badly that you don't come out in public." Hercules touched the other man's arm. "He's expecting this to take months, not weeks. We can do this, buddy. Fight the good fight."
Iolaus' blue eyes met Hercules'. Then he nodded and said, "Right. Let's go."
They continued on into town.
As usual the demigod walked Iolaus back to the gates that night, then gently kissed him and stroked his face.
"I'll wait for you," he whispered.
Iolaus nodded, took a deep breath and walked into the courtyard.
The next morning, Aquilla released him from the rack. Iolaus stumbled and went to one knee.
"Go to your lover now, pet," Aquilla hissed.
He was not allowed to bathe or even rinse his face. Aquilla threw his pants at him and Cassius marched him out the door to the gates. He stood there for a moment, knowing Hercules was on the other side of the wall. The hunter looked down at himself, leaned against the wall and tried to stifle a sob. He heard Hercules call his name, and the hunter pulled himself together, wishing he could run, but instead he walked out onto the street, announcing himself as Aquilla's whore.
Hercules didn't say a word, but handed Iolaus something. The hunter looked at it and realized it was a shirt. Iolaus looked at it and then up into Herc's eyes. He saw only love and compassion, instead of the disgust he had almost expected.
"Thank you," he whispered, as he pulled it on. Then he hugged the big man and relished the feel of his arms around him, wishing he could stay there forever.
"Oh yeah," Iolaus laughed through his tears. "This is so -- hard."
"I know, love."
On the way to town, they passed a pond and Iolaus laughed. He skinned out of the white linen shirt and his pants and dove into the water. He swam back and forth once and then climbed out.
Hercules watched as he climbed out of the water, trying to keep the pain out of his eyes. He saw the bruises on the hunter's back and ass. He knew the signs of a beating.
"There, I feel much better," Iolaus said, as he pulled his pants on, not wanting to meet the other man's gaze. He felt the demigod's hand on his arm. "I'm his whore, Herc, and everyone knows it."
"Don't you ever call yourself that again, Iolaus. He is using your body, that's all."
"I beg for him," Iolaus cried, loathing rising up in his own voice. "How can you even look at me, seeing what he's done to me?"
Hercules gathered the hurting man in his arms.
"Because I love you, Iolaus. We'll make it." Iolaus blindly reached up and kissed him, needing the reassurance, the love. But Hercules pulled away from him, stroking his face gently in order to ease his words. "I would love nothing more than to be with you, but I won't give Aquilla another reason to abuse you."
At first Iolaus' heart shriveled. Hercules wouldn't touch him. Then he understood. The hunter nodded and they headed into town.
The next morning, Iolaus was walking very carefully when he came out. Hercules had to seriously shorten his steps to allow his companion to keep up with him.
"What's wrong?" he finally asked.
"Herc, take me to your room."
"I told you I wouldn't --"
"Please!" Iolaus whispered.
Hercules did as he was asked with no further comment. As he closed the door, he turned to see Iolaus open his pants. He almost winced as Iolaus lowered his breechclout. His cock stood hard and purpled, weeping heavily, and encircled by a tight cockring.
"He didn't -- I," Iolaus stammered, as Hercules helped him sit on the bed. "He put it on me last night and wouldn't let me get off. Herc, please!"
"Why didn't you do something about it yourself?" Hercules asked, pulling the hunter's pants down further.
"He put something on my hands, and then rubbed it across my lips. He said it was the oil pressed out of some type of pepper. I touch myself and it's gonna burn like fire. My lips are still burning." Hercules touched Iolaus' cock, and the hunter groaned and pushed. "Don't jerk me off. Please, that's all he ever does."
"Easy, love," Hercules whispered, as he moved between Iolaus' legs. He took the hunter in his mouth and heard the strangled cry as he grabbed the bed. This wasn't even pleasure for Iolaus; it was far too painful.
Soon, Iolaus came hard, crying out harshly as his body spasmed. Hercules removed the ring as soon as he could, cradling the other man in his arms as he began sobbing. As soon as he could, he left the hunter asleep in his bed and walked out of the room with a determined set to his lips.
He strode out to Aquilla's estate. When Cassius met him at the gate, Hercules put something into his hand. Cassius looked at the small piece of mangled metal as the demi-god said fiercely, "Tell Aquilla that's what he'll look like if he ever does that to Iolaus again."
"Hades, it's the cockring," Cassius mumbled, staring at the twisted object in his hand.
For two weeks the battle raged. One day Iolaus came out with fresh whip marks on his back.
"Enough," Hercules said. "I won't put you through this anymore. Stay in there and I'll let you know when the money comes."
"NO!" Iolaus cried, grabbing desperately at the other man's vest. "No, Herc, you don't understand, and I'm not going to explain it right now, but I have to see you. If I don't, I'll lose myself for sure. I'm barely holding on right now. Promise me you'll see me every day, no matter what the cost."
"Okay, okay," Hercules soothed, himself frightened by the fear and near panic in the hunter's voice.
Iolaus knew Hercules wouldn't understand that Aquilla was pushing him remorselessly into a realm he didn't want to enter. The world of pain and complete domination. He had never known that pleasure could hurt so much.
That night as Hercules was eating his dinner at the inn, Aquilla walked in the door, with Iolaus behind him wearing a toga. Hercules stared at the hunter with lust in his eyes, but Iolaus' eyes were downcast. Abruptly, Hercules understood. He went to Finias, the landlord.
"I can't stay in here."
"Ah, so it's the body slave. I had hoped so."
"What do you mean."
"Who you think left that note on your bed?" Finias smiled. "Go on. If I need you, I'll call."
Hercules left, but that did not ease Iolaus' utter degradation. He was all but raped in the tavern. He was forced to kneel next to the table, Aquilla fed him by hand. Iolaus was more than aware of the cockring holding him hard and the casual carresses Aquilla subjected him to only made it more obvious. At one point in time, when Iolaus was at the bar, Finias leaned over and whispered to him, "Your friend left, so it wouldn't be so hard on you."
The next morning Hercules came into the main bar area.
Finias smiled. "That how you blow off steam?"
"Better than ripping Aquilla apart."
"Maybe," Finias agreed. "Watch yourself around him; he's mean as a snake."
"I already figured that out, but until we get fifteen pieces of gold together, Iolaus is stuck."
"Fifteen pieces of gold?" Finias repeated. "Hardly."
"What do you mean?''
"Morning, Finias," a man called, as he came in the door.
"Sentus, what are you doing here? I don't want you to be causing no problems."
"Us, cause problems?" The men laughed. "Nah, here to talk to the big guy. The body slave ain't feeling real good, didn't seem to have the energy to get moving this morning. Just thought I'd warn you, he wouldn't be making it today."
Iolaus' words rang in Hercules ears. "What's wrong with him."
"Oh, Aquilla got upset with him. Punished the pet," Sentus laughed evilly, adjusting the waistband of his pants.
Finias' hand closed over Hercules' arm. "Don't. You start a fight, you go to jail and unless you got some coin on you, you're in the same position as your friend." It took several deep breaths before Hercules felt some modicum of control.
"Herc," came a weak voice from the door. Hercules looked over and saw Iolaus leaning heavily on the doorposts. "Come on, let's go."
"Iolaus!" Hercules could barely stand to look at his friend.
"Don't. Let's just go," Iolaus said, straightening up.
"Oh, come on, pet," Sentus put in. He was more than shocked to see the body slave after what they'd done to him. "Tell him how Aquilla got mad and gave you to us and we fucked you raw all night."
It took both Iolaus and Finias to get Hercules outside.
Hercules gently lowered his friend to a bench, then winced as the hunter very gently sat down.
Finias came out with a cup of ale for him. Iolaus took it, and met the old man's eyes gratefully. "I'm sorry for the damages I caused."
"It looks like you've more than paid for the little bit of damage you did."
"See you tonight, pet!" Sentus yelled, halfway down the road.
Iolaus' hand closed over Hercules' arm. "Just a few more days, Herc. Just a few more days."
"Please, love, he's going to kill you," Hercules gently pointed out, stroking Iolaus' face.
Iolaus saw the tears in his lover's eyes. "I'm sorry, but -- if I don't get to see you, have something to look forward to, he will own me. You don't understand and I can't explain it right now."
How to explain that he was close to giving in to what Aquilla wanted, and it was only seeing Hercules everyday that was keeping Iolaus from dropping to his knees and begging that Aquilla stop, giving in to the demands of the man that owned him.
"Is it true what he said? You like this?" Hercules asked in disbelief.
"This?" Iolaus almost laughed. "No, but -- Herc, I'll explain it after we get out of this town. But you promise me, promise on your love for me and for Alcmene, that you will make sure you see me every day until we walk out of this town together."
"I promise that I will see you every day until we walk out of this town together."
Iolaus nodded. "Good, then let's go. That ale's kicking in and the pain is easing," he lied to his lover. Despite the pain shooting through his body, he tried to smile as he stood up.
For five more days the tug of war continued: Hercules trying to nurse Iolaus through the days, and praying he came out of the gates the next morning; Iolaus trying not to give in to Aquilla's demented domination; and Aquilla trying to lure the hunter into the painful pleasure of his slavery.
Hercules had reached the point of true concern for his friend's mental stability. The blond warrior laughed at inappropriate times, he talked to himself, and he didn't seem to be aware of the marks on his body. He cringed every time Hercules or anyone else lifted their voice; he pulled back from a sudden movement. Each morning Hercules could only wonder what pain had been inflicted on him the night before. He saw actual wounds from teeth on the hunter's body, and his face was bruised to the point of slurring his speech and almost closing an eye. He could also not help noticing he definitive marks of sexual torture. The marks on the tender flesh of Iolaus' arms, usually protected by his gauntlets, the bruised ass, the bite mark around his nipples and the bruise around the base of Iolaus' cock.
One day, Iolaus came out with his hands horribly bruised. Hercules gently lifted one of them and looked a question at his lover.
"Cassius caught me jerking myself off last night. He told Aquilla," the hunter replied. "Guess that isn't an option anymore, huh?" A demented smile came over his face. "Nope, don't touch yourself, pet. Can't do that."
"Iolaus?" Hercules said carefully.
"Hmm?" Iolaus asked, as if nothing was wrong. "Hey, I need to hit that pond on the way to work. Will you help me with my pants? I had a hard time lacing them, that's for sure."
Hercules went to gather the hunter in his arms, but the other man moved back, protesting, "No, don't, please. I really don't want to be held right now. I want to be able to move around."
Hercules stared at the hunter. He had never refused his embrace before.
When Iolaus emerged from the pond, he couldn't help but note the concern in the other man's eyes. He wiped one hand over his face, then said, "Guess I'm acting a little crazy, aren't I?" Hercules nodded slowly and Iolaus grimaced. "How much longer before we hear from Iphicles?"
"Probably two more days."
"Two days. I can do two days. Right." He walked off.
"What did he do to you?" the demigod asked, catching up with him in a couple of strides.
"Rather not talk about it, big guy. Rather not talk about it, rather not live it, rather not live," Iolaus responded, and began muttering unintelligibly to himself.
The night before had been pure Tartarus. He was taken straight to the playroom, and chained to the rack, where he spent most of his time now. Aquilla had come in, put a cockring on him, and let a female slave bring him just to the edge of release. Then his master had inserted a huge phallus into him, longer and wider than any other. Iolaus had screamed just as his master wanted him to at the pain of the invasion. Then he had felt his muscles close over some sort of lip on the device.
"Loose either one and you will be beaten severely," Aquilla had snarled as he released Iolaus from the rack. His master had then left the room, leaving him alone. The hunter couldn't sit. Hades, he could hardly stand with that thing inside him, but when he took a step, the sensations had been exquisite. The pressure of the phallus inside his body, his aching cock, and the cockring were soon too much for the hunter. He began to rock and thrust, figuring he could get himself hard again before Aquilla returned.
He was almost there when Cassius came in to check up on him. With a gloating smile, Cassius had summoned Aquilla. They had tied Iolaus' hands to a board and beaten them with a whip handle while Aquilla fucked him. He had come while they did both, and he wasn't sure if it was from the pleasure or the pain. Then they had hooded him, bound his arms to his sides and for the rest of the night, they had used him, either raping him, or by making him take them in his mouth. They never let him come, but at sunrise, they had released him and said he could jerk himself off if he wanted to, and then laughed as his swollen hands weren't capable of providing him with the stimulation he needed. Aquilla had made him stand there with his own aching cock in his hands, begging them to get him off. Aquilla had all but spit in his face and then roughly grabbed his cock and jerked him off, intentionally spraying the hunter with his own cum.
Hercules watched the hunter closely, and was relieved when his mental state seemed to stabilize. The blacksmith had sent Iolaus on his way, since his hands were clearly too swollen to hold anything, and his attention span was too short to even allow him to work the bellows. The demi-god had taken him to his room at the inn to let him sleep, wondering just how much longer Iolaus could survive.
That night, Hercules was sitting in the tavern when the young man they had sent to Corinth walked in the door. The weary man dropped a pouch into the demigod's hands and gave him a note.
"Hercules," Iphicles handwriting announced. "Here's twenty pieces of gold. I don't know what's happened, but I hope this helps. Mom and Jason ask about you all the time. Come to Corinth when you have a chance. I'll even try to be civil. Your brother -- the King, you may bow now." Hercules didn't even smile at his brother's sick sense of humor. He counted out fifteen gold pieces, put them back in the pouch, and headed out the door, practically running in his eagerness to get to Aquilla's estate.
However, nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to see. He was taken upstairs and left before a door.
"Go straight through this room," Cassius said, turning to go back down the hall.
Hercules carefully entered the room. What he saw and heard made his stomach turn.
"Please, master, fuck your slave."
"Fuck your pet, master. He needs to come!" Iolaus screamed.
Hercules eyes were glued to the bed, where Iolaus' hands were chained to the headboard, and Aquilla was driving himself into his ass. But what tore at the demi-god's heart was the way Iolaus was straining for Aquilla.
The landowner cried out and then ripped himself out of Iolaus' body. His slave whimpered with his head down.
"Please, master," Iolaus asked abjectly.
"Beg me, you slut."
"Your slut begs release. He begs his master's hand to touch him. Your pet needs release, master, please!" Iolaus pleaded desperately, holding perfectly still.
Aquilla harshly slapped the hunter's ass, and then roughly slid his hand up and down the engorged cock. Iolaus screamed and came, thrusting whorishly into the landowner's hand.
"Thank you, master, for allowing your pet to come," Iolaus panted. Then he looked up and saw Hercules standing in the doorway. "NO!" he screamed, looking over his shoulder at Aquilla. "You bastard, you fucking bastard!"
Aquilla laughed heartily.
Hercules stepped forward and numbly placed the money pouch on the table. Iolaus had begged to be used, to be fucked. He had wanted it. "The gold," he managed to say, before stumbling from blindly from the room.
"Hercules!" Iolaus screamed after him.
Aquilla was furious at this unexpected turn of events. He strode into the playroom as Iolaus struggled violently against the chains holding him to the bed.
"Herc, don't leave me here! Don't leave me at his mercy, now that he knows he's lost!" Iolaus begged, ripping the flesh on his arms as he tried to get free. But the demi-god was out of earshot. Then he heard the whip snap and felt the corresponding line of fire across his back, and realized he was going to die a slow and tortuous death.
By the time Aquilla's temper had passed and he could think rationally, the slave lay whimpering on the bed, his back and ass criss-crossed by whip marks.
"You sorry slut!" Aquilla screamed, once more thrusting into his slave's ass. He let his temper rise again as the slave cried out weakly. "I ought to geld you, cut your dick off!" he growled, as he tore out of the hunter and came all over his back. "CASSIUS!!!"
"Come fuck the whore for the last time. He's going to be leaving us," Aquilla said coldly, as he climbed off the bed. Cassius opened his pants and obediently raped the trembling man. Aquilla was pleased to see the blood when Cassius had finished with him.
Iolaus lost his sense of reality as Aquilla beat him and raped him. He lay almost comatose as Cassius abused him, not really caring if he lived or died.
Why had that had to happen? Why had Hercules had to see that? It was over. Herc would never be able to forget what he had seen, never forget hearing him beg for Aquilla's touch. It was all over between them, and Iolaus' life might as well be over along with it.
He didn't move as they used scissors to cut and remove the nipple rings and removed the other jewelry from his body. Aquilla would occasionally lose his temper and begin to beat the slave, screaming at him that he was nothing but a whore and his overly-moral demigod would throw him away, wouldn't want dirty trash such as him. When Cassius finally lifted him to his feet, Aquilla cruelly kneed his slave in the groin and laughed as he threw up repeatedly on the floor.
Finally, Cassius dragged him from the house and threw him out the gate, naked. His clothes were tossed after him.
"When your lover turns away from you," Aquilla said from the gateway, "I'll take you back, but only if you beg the way you did the other night." His voice rose hysterically as his temper got the best of him. "You'll come to beg me naked from that gate, on your knees with your cock in your hand, you little two-bit piece of whoring trash!"
Iolaus slowly pulled his clothes to him and dressed himself. He had to lie on his side to get his pants on, unable to endure the pain of sitting. It took him almost an hour to make his way to the tavern. Why he was even trying he didn't know. All he knew was he needed Hercules.
Iolaus stood in the doorway to the tavern. It felt good to have all of his clothes on, but his heart was cold. He had no joy, no love, no life. No, the man who had brought all that into his heart was sitting at the bar, drinking himself into a stupor, and Iolaus couldn't blame him. He almost turned and walked out. Hercules would never be able to see him as anything but a whore again, and he just couldn't face that.
"Don't you dare run now, Iolaus. He needs you."
Iolaus hadn't even noticed that the innkeeper had approached until the man had spoken to him. He shook his head. "He doesn't need me, Finias. I just ripped his heart out."
"No, Aquilla did. You was just a victim. Aquilla does this all the time. He's the cruelest son-of-a-bitch around here. You show some backbone now, and get in there." He took the hunter's arm, then stared at him intently before going on in a sorrow-roughened voice. "I knows what ya went through. Ya ain't the only one. I had to face me wife after he done it ta her. I wanted to forgive her, but she run off, afraid of what I'd say and think. I wish I had taken her in my arms, stopped her from running, but I can't change that. I won't let you make the same mistake she did." He forced Iolaus to meet his eyes as he said, "Don't let Aquilla win."
Iolaus stood there, torn between running and approaching the man he loved. Still oblivious to his presence, Hercules managed to throw down two more ales in that period.
Finally, Iolaus walked over to him. "So, after two weeks, and all we've gone through," he forced himself to say, "Aquilla's won?"
"Go 'way, Iolaus," Hercules slurred
"Herc, he'd been teasing me for over an hour. I was --"
He cut the hunter off with a wave of his hand. "I don' wanna hear it."
Iolaus fought back tears, desperately trying to figure out how to get through to him. "Oh, so you could look at the results of what he was doing to me, right?" he said, his voice cracking, as he gestured to the bruises and marks on his chest and throat, very visible where his vest didn't cover him. "But actually seeing it in person was too much for you to handle? Very nice. Tell me, buddy, just how easy do you think it's been for me to handle all this time, huh?"
"You wanted him!" Hercules accused, slamming his cup down.
Iolaus cringed as people turned to stare. "I tried to tell you, but -- you wouldn't have understood."
"How can I unnerstan' wanting that?" Hercules pointed a finger at the bite marks on his lover's chest. Iolaus was silent, trying to get his emotions under control. "You actually like that? You wan' me to do that to you?"
"Hercules, give me a break here!" Iolaus cried. "Please, let's go make camp somewhere and I'll try to explain it to you."
"I think I'll jus' stay here and ge' drunk."
"Herc, the last time you got drunk, you nearly killed a man."
"Because of you!" the demigod shouted. "Maybe I just should have let him have you!"
Finias handed the irate man another cup of ale and said gently, "You need to shut up and listen."
"I don't need you tellin' me what to do."
"Herc, please," Iolaus asked. "We've been waiting for this for two weeks. I'm free. Please, I need you. I need you to listen --"
"Could have fooled me!" the demigod interrupted, getting to his feet.
That was it. Iolaus grabbed his arm. "Would you please listen to me!" He found himself flung halfway across the bar, landing badly.
"For the damages," Hercules said, handing over a gold piece to Finias.
"You are a stupid fool," the innkeeper said. "He had no choice in what Aquilla did to him."
Hercules went and stood over Iolaus, feeling very empty, very lost and very alone. He looked into the blue eyes, seeing the blond hair he loved to stroke. The pain in his heart was unbearable.
Iolaus, on the other hand, was in a good amount of physical pain. He had managed to cover how badly Aquilla had beaten him after Hercules left, and the fact that he had been raped, but now he couldn't stand it anymore.
"Hercules, please help me up," he whispered, extending his hand to the demigod.
When Hercules didn't reach down, Iolaus knew this was serious. He tried to get up, but couldn't suppress the groan of pain as he rolled over or the wince as he twisted to his waist. Then his vest slid off his shoulder and Hercules saw the whip marks.
"Iolaus?" Hercules asked, reaching into the wreck of the table and standing the man on his feet. He turned Iolaus roughly and pulled the hunter's vest down further. Shaken by the sight that met his eyes, he gasped, "By the gods!"
The hunter felt as if he was being displayed again, with people staring at him and at the marks on him. He lowered his head. "He beat me after you left, Herc. Now can we please go talk somewhere?"
Finias held out a key. "Second floor. It's private."
Iolaus nodded his thanks and pulled his vest back up. When they had gotten to the room and closed the door, he made his way to the bed and gently lowered himself onto it, sitting as far on one hip as he could.
"You're hurt," Hercules exclaimed. "How bad?"
"Cassius and Aquilla said good-bye," Iolaus gasped.
Hercules dropped to his knees next to the bed. Then the vision of Iolaus straining for Aquilla came to his mind. "Iolaus, I saw -- You wanted him. I don't understand! Why?"
Iolaus heard the pain and confusion in the demigod's voice. "Herc, he had been at me for over an hour. I was desperate. He had already gotten off twice."
"But you called him master, you called yourself a slut, a pet. Iolaus--" it was almost a plaintive cry on the demigod's part.
Iolaus touched the face holding so much pain. "If I hadn't, he would have left me like that. Gods, I had a cockring on. It wasn't going to pass in a few minutes." He took a deep breath. "Hercules, you have always come at sex with a view of respect and at least affection. Not all sex is like that." He saw that blank look in his lover's eyes. He wasn't getting through. "Okay. We both know there are different ways to actually have sex, right?"
"Yeah," the other man replied cautiously.
"Well, there are different ways to approach sex too. You have sex with people you care about, right?"
"Well, you know how I like to jump your bones right after we've been in a fight?"
"Yeah, but I'm always afraid I'm going to hurt you."
"I know, and that's why I've never told you about this. Plain and clear, Herc. I like it when you're strong with me."
"No. Not like this," Iolaus said, shifting carefully.
There was a knock at the door. Finias handed Hercules a small cask of ale. Hercules poured one for Iolaus.
"Look, I know you aren't ready for this, and I am so sorry you saw that and you were hurt. That was Aquilla's last attempt at trying to punish me. He wanted to drive us apart." Iolaus shifted again, and winced.
Hercules came to him. "You really are hurt, aren't you?"
"Yeah, pretty bad." Then the hunter looked at his lover. "Hercules, I love you. I know this was my fault, first for fighting and then by letting Aquilla do that to me, but if you'll still have me -- Hercules, please don't throw me away because of this."
"Throw you away?" Hercules asked. "What do you mean, throw you away? Iolaus, no. I was -- confused. And angry. I just needed a chance to calm down." Iolaus reached up and gently kissed the demigod, his blue eyes searching Hercules'. Herc realized the hunter needed an answer, and he reviewed the conversation quickly.
"Yes, I want you, I'll have you," he said, grabbing the hunter, drawing him into his lap, none too gently.
Iolaus winced at the movement. "Easy, Herc. Be real easy."
"Here, you lie down."
"No!" Iolaus cried, stiffening. "I really don't want to be in a bed right at this moment. I'm sorry. I know this is hard for you, but it is for me too. It's going to take some time. But I can guarantee you, I don't want to lay down in a bed."
"It's okay, love. We'll work it out. I promise." Hercules cuddled Iolaus close to him. "Do you want a bath?"
"That would be very, very nice," Iolaus agreed gently, knowing Hercules could smell both Aquilla and Cassius on him.
"Here." Hercules lifted Iolaus and set him gently in a chair. "I'll be back in a minute."
"Hercules?" Iolaus called. The demigod paused. "Lock the door, would you?"
The demigod stared at his partner and then nodded. Iolaus was afraid to be alone. The brave hero, who had faced the same monsters that he had, wanted the door locked. What had Aquilla done to him?
Later, after the tub was full, Hercules helped Iolaus get undressed and tried not to look at the many bruises and marks marring his beloved hunter's body. He watched Iolaus wince as he got into the bath. He gently washed his lover's abused back, trying to be gentle, but he knew it hurt. Iolaus covered his lover's hand and Hercules saw the bruising again.
"Herc, go outside for a few minutes, please. I haven't eaten tonight. Can you get me something?"
"Sure. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, just lock the door." Iolaus winced as he shifted to his knees in the tub. "I'll be fine. Give me about 10-15 minutes."
Hercules nodded and left again, but paused outside the door and heard Iolaus gasp, realizing the hunter was cleaning himself internally. He left as he heard a low groan of pain from the room.
When he came back in, Iolaus was fully dressed and sitting on the bed. He smiled faintly at the demigod. But Hercules could see he was pale.
"Lock the door, big guy," Iolaus whispered.
Hercules set the tray of food he was carrying down on a table and silently did as he was requested.
After Iolaus had eaten, he looked up at his lover. "Herc, I can't have sex tonight, but I would love to give you --"
"No!" the demi-god said emphatically. "When you're healthy. I can wait. Do you think I'd want you to just give me a blowjob, while you're left hanging?"
Iolaus shook his head and smiled. There was even a hint of mischief in that smile, something Hercules hadn't seen in a long time. "I couldn't get hard right now if Nebula and Aphrodite were both standing here naked. Or you for that matter. I just wanted to do something for you, that's all."
"I can wait. How about I just lie down next to you, right here? And hold you all night long?" Hercules gathered Iolaus against him, settling him in the crook of his shoulder, relishing the feel of the compact little body once again in its accustomed place.
"I could deal with that," Iolaus sighed softly, settling himself against the other man.
Although Iolaus had a fitful night, Hercules held him close, speaking to him and stroking his hair when he got upset. And every time he heard his name whispered by the hunter, asking the demigod to come get him, Hercules swore Aquilla would one day pay for what he had done.
The next morning, Hercules awoke at sunrise to find Iolaus moving around the room, slowly packing their bags.
"Iolaus, you shouldn't be up."
"We are getting out of this town, if you have to carry me like a baby."
Hercules lifted his eyebrows at that comment. There was nothing Iolaus hated worse than to be carried cradled to his chest.
"Now get up and get dressed!"
"Yes, sir," Hercules chuckled, obeying cheerfully.
They went downstairs, and found Finias already up and moving. "I got you two breakfast, if you want it."
"That's a good idea. Iolaus, you eat and I'll go tell the blacksmith and the guy I was working for that we're leaving."
"Don't be gone long, buddy," Iolaus said, standing by the bar and taking a piece of fruit.
Hercules shook his head. Not only did he have one heck of a hangover, but he also knew why Iolaus was still standing up so much.
When Herc got back to Finias', he found Cassius standing in the doorway.
"Hey, pet!" Cassius called, and was very surprised when he was snatched up by the back of his collar and dropped into the town well.
"Tell your boss to watch his back," Hercules growled.
He went into the tavern to find a shaken Iolaus drinking ale. He walked up to him and said, "Whenever you're ready, partner."
"Let's go." Iolaus shook the innkeeper's hand. "Thanks, Finias."
"Not a problem. And as for you," the older man said, turning to the demigod and shaking a gnarled finger in his face, "Remember, he had nothing to do with it."
"I'll remember," Herc replied, stroking his hunter's face. "I promise."
They walked out the door, and slowly left the town behind them.
End of Part 2
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