By Rudy

The author does not own the characters from the series. They belong to MCA/Universal. We all know that. We're not making any money from this. We're just having fun. Okay?

Iolaus stepped from the lake, shaking the water from his hair as he made his way into the ring of laurels. His movements were slow and stately, a dance, an invocation. He stood beside the fire, and dried himself carefully with the soft, clean cloth that he had carried to the sacred grove for that purpose. Once his skin was completely dry, he wound the cloth around his hair, and pulled a small, clay flask from his satchel. He uncorked it carefully, closing his eyes and inhaling the clean, sandalwood aroma of its contents appreciatively. He anointed himself with the scented oil from his strong throat to the soles of his feet, rubbing his skin carefully until he glowed golden in the light of the setting sun. When he had finished, he freed his damp hair, and combed the wild mane out with his fingers, massaging the fragrant oil into his scalp.

He re-corked the flask and laid it aside, on a corner of the soft, bright blanket that he had spread before the crackling fire, then carried the damp cloth to a clump of boulders by the lake, spreading it out to dry. His clothing, which he had washed upon arriving a few hours before, lay nearby, but he did not disturb it.

With the same, steady grace, Iolaus moved to the center of the ring of laurels, pouring a libation of wine on the ground, and sending up his plea. He waited silently, a silvered statue in the moonlight, before calling out once again.

"Apollo. Please, hear me."

The darkness thickened around him, and the small sounds of the night that his calls had interrupted gradually resumed. Finally, he turned, intending to curl up on his blanket, but a sweet sound stopped him in his tracks.

"I am here." Apolloís voice was music.

For a moment, Iolaus could only gape. Apollo was even more beautiful than Iolaus remembered from his boyhood encounter with the god, though he would never have believed such a thing possible. The firelight touched Apollo gratefully, dancing through the short, platinum curls of his hair, lingering like a loverís hands on his slender, long-limbed body. When Iolaus met the godís compassionate, grey gaze, though, the weight of his mission returned to settle over the hunterís broad shoulders like a cloak of iron.

"Hercules was married, today." Iolausí voice was thin, and he dropped his eyes as he spoke.


"If you still ... care for me, I need ..." Iolaus met Apolloís eyes, once again, "I canít be alone. I know itís a lot to ask, but ... I need ... I want you to love me. Just for tonight."

Apollo blinked. This, he had not foreseen. He regarded Iolaus silently. The hunterís bearing was straight, and firm; his burning, blue eyes were bright with tears. He would not release those tears, Apollo knew, lest they never stop. The God of Truth had watched this mortal for more than twenty years, through death, suffering, and ecstasy. He had never seen Iolaus as wounded as he was at this moment.

"Why turn to me to slake your pain, Iolaus? Why not take a willing mortal into your bed?"

"Because you once loved me. Because you understand, better than anyone else, what this marriage means to me. I donít know that I can endure this night, alone. Hercules is more than my best friend, more than my lover. He has become a part of me. I never thought he would turn away from me, but he has. He has. I need to forget, tonight. I donít want to picture him. His hands, on her skin. His mouth, on hers. His voice ..."

Iolausí own voice broke, and he paused for a moment, swallowing his pain.

"He made love to me the night before he asked her to ... He hadnít touched me since weíd reached Cernaia, but that night he came to me. He held me so tenderly. He took me so fiercely. He already knew that ... that it was the last time. If I had only known, I would have found a way to make him stay," Iolausí hands were clenched whitely.

Apollo closed his eyes. Hercules - still a fool. He laughed inwardly at the thought. Love made fools of everyone it touched, himself included. Here he was, barely able to breathe, trembling in the presence of this mortal, dazed by his request. He opened his eyes again, regarding Iolaus, who gleamed nakedly in the moonlight. He was the most precious offering that had ever been placed before the God of Light.

"Hercules knew that it was the last time, yet touching you again did not change his mind. Your love for him did not change his mind, nor his love for you. He has met his Fate, Iolaus, and he is bound to follow it. You would not have been able to stop him. Isnít it better that you passed a blissful night in his arms, untainted by the knowledge of what was to come?"

"Oh, yeah. I feel so much better knowing that he had the chance to rip off one last piece of ass before he moved on to other, more mythical fields," Iolaus laughed shortly; the sound was painfully like a sob.

Apollo stepped forward, and placed gentle hands on Iolausí shoulders, searching the mortalís face. Iolaus met his gaze unflinchingly, and looking into those clear, blue eyes was like falling into an abyss of despair. He traced the shape of Iolausí face with trembling fingertips, hesitating over the silken lips. Fear touched the immortal, as he remembered tasting those lips, as he imagined tasting them once again; he wanted this man with near desperation. Only once before had Apollo felt like this, and the pain that love had caused him haunted him still. Hyacinthus ...

Apollo would be paying with his heartís blood for Iolausí moments of forgetfulness.

A bargain.

"I will stay with you for as long as you require, beautiful one."

Apollo turned away, and settled himself on Iolausí blanket, staring into the fire. Iolaus joined him, and they sat in silence for a long while. When Apollo lifted his eyes to Iolausí face, he found that the mortal was lost in painful conjecture, his face drawn, his eyes wild and blank. Had Hercules looked up from his bridal bed at that moment, he would have found a golden shade beside him. Cataloguing every caress, every kiss. Brutalized by every moan, every smile.

Apollo sighed; it was time for the bloodletting to commence. He bent toward Iolaus, and took a kiss.

He had intended the kiss to be gentle, to be an assessment. Iolaus wouldnít hear of it. He parted his lips beneath Apolloís and intoxicated him with a nimble tongue, and strong hands which found their way across the godís collarbone, slipping under his simple, white tunic to trail across his chest, and down his abdomen. Iolausí hands became the embodiment of his need, firing the flesh that they graced.

Apollo met that need, and surpassed it, bearing the small mortal to the ground and covering the lithe, muscular limbs with his own. He was swimming in Iolaus, in his warm scent, and soft gasps. Swimming in the satin of his skin, and the strength of his arms. Swimming, then drowning, then utterly lost. All of the glory that was Iolaus was eagerly offered to Apolloís lips, and hands.

God worshipped mortal. Apollo trailed his tongue over Iolausí carefully cleansed and scented flesh; he needed to taste every curve, every hidden place. The feast led him down the muscular abdomen, and he lingered over the sweet navel until Iolaus was trembling, begging silently for him to continue his journey southward, to ease the throbbing hardness which yearned so close to the godís wet mouth. Instead, Apollo coaxed Iolaus to his hands and knees. He began nibbling the trembling flesh of Iolausí taut buttocks, pulling them gently apart and running his tongue between them, plunging it into the receptive heat of the hunterís anus. Iolaus moaned, and arched his back. Apollo quickened the rhythm of his tongue until his desire blinded him, deafened him, maddened him, as it did Iolaus.

He groaned, pulling away and stripping his clothing off before taking Iolaus into his arms. They strained together, mouths fused, limbs entwined, trembling hands reaching for swollen, needy cocks. Apollo received the offering of Iolausí seed, and answered that offering with pulsing streams of his own essence. The few drops that escaped eager lips and tongues graced the earth, a divine libation.

The morning dawned, though the sun god still lay entwined with his golden lover. Apollo kissed Iolaus awake, and the hunter teased his fingers into Apolloís satin cap of white-blonde curls, accepting the molten joy of lovemaking in lieu of breakfast. When their cries of ecstasy had stilled, and their labored breathing had slowed, Apollo cupped Iolausí glowing face in his hands.

"Iolaus. Come with me."

"OK, but youíll have to give me a minute or two. Iím only a mortal, you know; I gotta regroup," Iolaus grinned blindingly, and began to nibble on a divine earlobe, running tantalizing fingers up Apolloís thigh.

Apollo fought a brief battle with his desire, and surprised himself by winning. He gently pulled Iolausí bright head back, and met the hunterís melting, blue gaze.

"Come with me. To Olympus."

"Why do you always ask me to go to Olympus with you?" Iolaus tried for a light tone.

"Iíve only asked you twice!" Apollo protested.

"Iíve only *seen* you twice," Iolaus pointed out.


"I have to stay with him," Iolaus softened his words with another kiss.

"Even now?" Apollo hated himself for the question, hated himself for already knowing the truth. ĎWhy couldnít I have been the God of Merciful Ambiguities?í ...

"Iím his." A lifetime of passion colored the simple words, and a lifetime of pain.

The sweet, languorous smile had faded from Iolausí face, replaced by poignant grief, and Apollo fought an answering grief. So bitter. So black, and bitter. Iolaus read the agony in those clear, grey eyes, and his breath caught.

"Iím so sorry, Apollo. So sorry for using you. So sorry for causing you pain. I was only thinking of myself, my own needs..."

Apollo stilled his words with gentle fingers.

"I knew the price that I would pay. A small price, indeed, in light of the joy that you have given me. Now, Iíve a request to make of you," Apolloís eyes shone a smile into Iolausí blue gaze, and the hunter found himself returning that smile, his hands returning to their play along the godís tender thighs. Apollo moaned softly, and managed to continue, "Grant me a few more nights in your arms. Please."

Iolaus stilled his hands, and studied Apolloís face keenly. If his heart were his own to rule, he would give it freely to this wise and passionate god. The Fates were cruel to mortal and god alike.

"A few more days. A few more nights. Together." Iolaus opened his mouth against the godís, opened his arms to pull Apollo close, opened his legs to accept and surround him with tender urgency.

Another offering, bittersweet. It was accepted by Apollo, with a trembling body and an aching heart.

Apollo could not have numbered the days they spent together. When Iolaus finally left him, with a passionate kiss and a fierce embrace, the god watched silently as the beautiful hunter strode away. He watched as Iolaus left the lover of his body, to roam by the side of the lover of his heart, ready to assume the role of Herculesí carefree, heedless friend once again. Iolausí mask was carefully in place, his soulís fires banked through the good graces of divinely carnal intervention. The God of Light sat, unmoving, as the darkness gathered around him.

Before Apollo departed, he left another libation to nourish the sacred ring of laurels. The tears of a god, offered to the memory of a mortalís fevered touch.

The End

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