The Fountain of Salmacis

By Aramis

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

The hunter was almost in despair. He had loved Hercules ever since they had first met as boys, but over past months his feelings had undergone a subtle change. Well, 'subtle' was hardly the word for it. 'Momentous', 'overwhelming' or even 'frightening' might be more accurate. He wasn't quite certain when he'd first placed the tiny prepositions 'in' and 'with' on either side of the word 'love', but the emotional impact of the small additions was almost beyond belief.

Every time he looked at the demigod, he feared he would give himself away. He could feel his heartbeat increasing, his pulses racing and his face blushing hotly. He had lost his usual voracious appetite and his enthusiasm for hunting, fishing, wenching and carousing and seemed to spend his days in a world of confused dreams and his nights tossing sleeplessly.

Although determined to hide the truth from the demigod, at least until he somehow figured out a way to suitably broach the matter, he could not believe that Hercules could be so obtuse as not to have realized what was going on, but apparently he had not noticed anything.

Actually, that was not *quite* true. Hercules had observed his friend's listlessness with growing concern. He was worried that the hunter might be sickening for something and had undertaken the thankless task of forcing the blond to drink various tonics. However, since this was such a battle and as queries as to his health seemed to drive Iolaus into a state of extreme exasperation, he had recently given up on both.

Finally, loath as he was to discuss such things with others, Iolaus decided to approach Aphrodite for advice. 'She's Herc's sister,' he told himself, 'so it's not like talking to an outsider.'

So, when Herc announced he was off to do some fishing, hoping, in vain, that the hunter might decide to join him, Iolaus seized the opportunity and ran to the nearest temple dedicated to Aphrodite. He stood before the altar and silently begged her to appear.

Aphrodite had never been able to resist the scruffy, little blond and so, to the amazement of the other worshippers, the air shimmered and the beautiful goddess appeared. "Hi, Sweet-cheeks, I was wondering when you'd get around to asking my advice."

"You know?"

"Of course, I know. The Goddess of Love knows *everything* about these matters."

"Can I talk to you privately, please?" he asked, aware that ears were straining, all over the temple, to hear their conversation.

"Sure! C'mon." She hooked her arm through his and led him outside. "Well, tell me."

"I thought you knew everything."

"That doesn't mean I don't enjoy hearing it direct."

"Okay, Aphrodite, I think ... I might be ... Hell, I *know* I am in love with Hercules and I don't know what to do about it."

The goddess laughed. "*You* don't know what to do? I'd have thought, after all the affairs you've had, that you'd have a fairly good idea by now, Curly."

"That's not the same as love. I don't need to tell you that."

"Yeah, but the basic techniques are similar, Sweet-cheeks."

"Not in this case. I mean ... Well, I mean, if he was a woman I'd know what to say and do, but he's likely to flatten me if I act like that."

"My big brother? He's not known for his violence."

"Yeah, but I don't think he's faced this situation before."

"But he does love you, Sweet-cheeks, so he'll probably give you a fair hearing."

"That 'probably' is so reassuring. Anyway, how can he hear me if I'm not game to say anything."


"Don't get me wrong. I have tried ... kind of ... to raise the topic *indirectly* but, you know Herc, unless something hits him right between the eyeballs he doesn't seem to notice it."

"You'll just have to be more direct then."

"I *can't*. If he is disgusted with the notion, our friendship may not survive. I *can't* risk that. Aphrodite, you've got to think of something. I'm turning into a nervous wreck. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I've lost interest in everything, *even* fishing. No, don't laugh! I'm desperate. Herc thinks I'm sickening for something and keeps buying these noxious pick-me-ups and potions from various quack healers and forcing me to drink them. I'll be poisoned before you know it. Actually, come to think of it, that might be the answer to all my problems."

"Come on, Sweet-cheeks, it can't be that bad."

"It is! I'd leave him, but not seeing him would be even worse. Please, 'Dite, you must have some idea what I can do."

"Okay, I'll tell you something you could try, but I won't guarantee the results. There's a fountain in the hills behind Almiros. Anyone who bathes in it is suddenly seized with a preference for his or her own sex."

"Really? I've never heard of it. Why does that happen?"

"It's slightly embarrassing really. Have you ever heard of Hermaphroditus, my son by Hermes?"


"Well, as my son, he was, of course, very beautiful and modest."

In spite of his worries, the hunter giggled and, with a flash of his old cheekiness, commented, "I can understand *part* of that."

"Iolaus, do you want my help or not?" Aphrodite demanded, sternly.

"Yes, sorry."

"Salmacis, the nymph who gives her name to the fountain, was completely enamoured with Hermaphroditus and, when he didn't return her love, prayed to the gods that her body be eternally united to his. Unfortunately, the request was granted and they became one organism, sharing attributes of male and female. I was *not* pleased. I'd preferred him as he was, but it was too late."

"And this has given the fountain its special characteristics."


"And you're sure it only changes sexual orientation? I don't think Herc would ever forgive me if he ended up like Hermaphroditus."

"Of course, I'm sure. Anyway, if I was wrong and he changed into a part female, you'd be fine because you'd then have some idea what to do. So you couldn't lose either way." The Goddess laughed with enjoyment at her own joke.

Iolaus grinned ruefully, "I could you know. In his new form, he might not be able to do what I'm hoping he'll do."

"You're incorrigible, you know," she exclaimed, patting his backside.

"Hey, Herc's called me that occasionally. I don't know what it means, but it must be a compliment if you say it too. Thanks for your advice, 'Dite, you're a real pal." He kissed her lightly on the cheek and darted off, leaving a bemused Goddess of Love.

"A 'pal'? I've never been called a 'pal' before. I hope I'm not losing my touch."

Half an hour or so later, a panting Iolaus located Hercules' fishing spot. "H-Herc! Herc! Th-There you are," he gasped.

"Slow down, Iolaus. Take a few deep breaths. What's wrong?" asked the demigod, rising to clasp his friend's shoulders to steady him.

"I-I've j-just had a g-great idea."


"Y-You d-don't sound very enthusiastic."

"I've met too many of your great ideas in the past. What is it this time? Shark-wrestling? Demon-baiting? A nice little jaunt to Tartarus?"

"No, something *even* better, a hunting trip."

"But, Iolaus, when I suggested we do that, a few days ago, you showed no interest at all and said you couldn't be bothered."

"Yeah, but I've just been talking to somebody who has been telling me about a great hunting spot we've never been to."

"I don't know. We really ought to be heading home. I promised to give Jason a hand re-roofing mother's house."

"Please, Herc! Only for a few days. Please!"

Hercules looked down at the pleading face. It *was* the first time in weeks that the blond had really shown an interest in anything. "Okay, just for a few days then."

"Great! Thank you. Herc!" The hunter flung his arms around the demigod and hugged him in his excitement. Then he realized what he was doing and faltered, flushed and disengaged rapidly to Hercules' intense confusion. 'What's wrong now?' he wondered. Keeping his head down, so the tangled mop of curls hid his burning face, Iolaus asked, "Can we leave *now*?"

"I've got time to collect my gear, have I?"

"*If* you hurry. C'mon!"

The journey to Almiros should have taken five days at a reasonable rate of travel, but the pair were clearly going to do it in three. Hercules couldn't believe the pace the hunter set and his extreme reluctance to stop for minor inconveniences like food and sleep. He knew the blond had not shown much interest in either for some weeks, but this was ridiculous. "Iolaus, slow down," he appealed. "I'll collapse at this rate and you'll have to carry me. This is supposed to be a fun thing not a route march or a marathon. When, or perhaps I should say *if*, I get to Almiros, I'll be ready to sleep for a week. I'll be far too tired to go hunting."

*That* 'threat' did get a reaction. The blond slowed for a couple of miles or so, but gradually picked up the pace again.

Hercules was getting more and more concerned. Iolaus was looking so thin and drawn and his cheeks had a hectic flush. He seemed to be living on his nerves. 'I'll have to insist he sees a healer before we set out from Almiros,' the demigod resolved.

They arrived in Almiros in the early evening. Hercules booked a room and ordered water heated for a bath. He had a meal and then, leaving Iolaus in the bar, carried the large tub to their room. After that, he assisted the maids with the water.

He was still luxuriating, half an hour later, when Iolaus entered the room, muttered, "Sorry, I thought you'd be finished," and turned to go.

"Where are you off to?"

"Just downstairs."

"Why? There's a good job here for you. Come and scrub my back for me. You owe me a bit of care and consideration for wearing my feet off and making me swallow your dust getting here."

Each had performed this service for the other in the past and, indeed, considerably more intimate ones in cases where the other was sick or injured, so Iolaus could hardly refuse. He gulped and gingerly picked up the scrubbing brush, as though it might bite him, running it lightly over the broad, muscular back. "C'mon, harder! Wash it properly!" the demigod ordered. "I can hardly feel that. Perhaps I should get one of the maids to do it." This was not an unusual idea, for the tavern girls were expected to perform such services and any others that the customers might require.

"*NO!*" The vehemence in and volume of Iolaus response to what had been only an idle comment by the demigod, who would never have done such a thing in reality, stunned them both. "I-I mean, no, that's not n-necessary, I'll do it," the hunter stammered. He quickly began to scrub hard.

Hercules had soon had more than enough, protesting, "Okay, thank you, that'll do. I'd like some skin left on if I can."

He clambered out and began to towel himself. Iolaus flung himself on his bed and stared fixedly at the ceiling. "The water's a bit cold now. Do you want me to get some more hot water for you?" Hercules asked.

"No, thank you, I'm too tired to bath. I'm going to bed."

Too tired to bath! The demigod couldn't believe his ears. He didn't know anybody who loved hot baths more than the hunter. The difficult thing was usually to get him out of them before his skin shrivelled off. Of course, he was in blissful ignorance that a part of Iolaus' anatomy was considerably more prominent, as a result of his own bath, than the hunter wanted known.

The next day, the hunter was out of bed and ready to leave at dawn. He looked quite haggard. Dark circles ringed his eyes, evidence of yet another largely sleepless night. However, there was no doubt that he was determined to get going now or even sooner, although the autumn day was cool and overcast and did not look promising.

Hercules decided to make a stand. There was no way he could justify waking a healer at that hour, but he could, at least, force Iolaus to eat something. Accordingly, he deliberately lingered over breakfast and absolutely insisted he would go no further until the hunter had eaten something. He half expected the blond to announce he was going on without him but, for some reason, Iolaus seemed to want his company and, somehow, choked some food down.

They set off. If the hunter's behaviour over the past weeks hadn't puzzled and worried the demigod enough, it now became odder than ever. He seemed to have a specific, albeit undisclosed, goal in mind and was determined to reach it regardless of excellent hunting opportunities missed en route. This was most out of character. Hercules was used to him changing plans with, at times, annoying, frequency. For instance, they'd be going fishing and then the hunter would spot some deer spoor and he'd be off after the animal regardless of earlier plans and Hercules' time commitments. However, today, he was fixated on something and showed no interest at all in the abundant sign that was obvious even to a relatively poor bushman like Hercules. His only response to Hercules' remonstrances was to mutter something about there being an even better place further ahead.

Finally, after about five hours, the demigod called a halt. The morning was well advanced, and dawn and dusk were really the times for hunting, so he was more than ready for a rest and some food. "Aw, Herc, what are you stopping for?" Iolaus complained. "This isn't a good place. There's no water. In an hour or so we'll be near a really good spring, where I thought we could set up camp."

"I've got plenty of water in my flask. I'm ready for a rest and a snack now. Anyway, I thought you'd never been here before, so how do you know about the spring?"

"I haven't, but that person I met told me about it and gave me directions to it."


"I don't ... I suppose ... It's a good place for a camp." If it had been someone else speaking, Hercules might have accepted that, but he knew the hunter too well. When he was involved in an activity that he enjoyed, creature comforts were the last thing on his mind. Careful choice of a camping spot was way down on the list of his priorities to the extent of hardly featuring at all.

So, Hercules asked, with a touch of sarcasm, "Oh, we are actually going to stop to do some hunting then?"

"Of course! What do you mean by that, Herc?"

"This whole expedition seems to be one long trek. We've passed over plenty of opportunities for game. Replacing mother's house roof is going to seem like light exercise, or even entertainment, after this."

"Yeah, but there's even better places. You said we didn't have much time so I don't want to miss out on the best places."

"Iolaus, there is a limit to the amount of game we can tote so it doesn't really matter where we kill it. The shorter distance we have to carry it the better. You're always moaning about the job of lugging meat out of the bush. Anyway, the trips really taken too long already, I didn't realize the place you'd heard about was at such a distance. I reckon we should turn back to some of those likely spots we passed earlier."

The blond's face fell. "Please, Herc, it's not much further now. I *really* want to go there."

"Perhaps you should carry on without me and I'll head home," the demigod suggested. He wasn't actually serious because he was too concerned about his friend to leave him in his current state, but he wondered what reaction this would get. On occasions in the past, the pair had split up temporarily when duty called the demigod and hunting shouted to his friend. However, he was caught completely off guard by the look of devastation that swept across the blond' face.

"Please, Herc, you *can't*. It won't ... It won't ... It won't be as much fun without you."

The hunter did not appear to be having much fun anyway, but the demigod, still shaken after seeing Iolaus' expression, decided not to comment. "Okay, but you'd better be right about the distance."

An hour later, they reached the spring. "Here's the place," Iolaus announced.

"At last!" Hercules said, flopping to the ground. "I'm going to snooze all afternoon and we can hunt at dusk, if that's all right with you." There was more than a hint of sarcasm in the last phrase.

"Of course, but you'll be hot after that walk. Why not have a swim first?"

"Nah, I'll pass on that. The day's turned a bit chilly for swimming."

"It's probably much warmer in than out."

"Maybe, but I'd rather sleep."

'Damn!' the hunter thought. 'How on earth am I going to get him in. Perhaps if I go in and splash him he'll follow me in.' He stripped off his vest, kicked off his boots and started to unbuckle his belts. "Don't be a chicken, Herc, I'm going in." He was just about to remove his trousers when he recalled his conversation with Aphrodite about Hermaphroditus. 'What if she was wrong about what happens to people?' he wondered. 'She's one of the few immortals I trust, so I'm sure she wouldn't mislead me on purpose, but she *could* make a mistake. No, she said she was sure. I already love Herc so it shouldn't matter if I go in. But what if he refuses and I don't have him and have no more interest in females either? Where will that leave me?'

At that moment, his conscience stepped in and demanded, 'How come you're so scared about what might happen to you and yet you're willing to blithely send Hercules into the pool.' Then it said an even more devastating thing: 'What real value can there be in a love that isn't being given freely, but is merely the result of enchantment.'

Both ideas struck home with the force of hammer blows. He couldn't let Hercules near the pool and couldn't imagine how stupid he'd been to even consider it. How in Tartarus was he going to be able to persuade Hercules to shift camp after his earlier insistence coming to the spot?

Then, to his horror, he heard Hercules say. "What are you dithering around for? I've changed my mind and decided to join you." He swung around to see the demigod disrobing.

"No, Herc! You were right, it's far too cold. Anyway, that pool looks a bit dangerous. There might be a whirlpool effect under that fountain." He moved to clutch at Hercules' arm, as the latter walked towards the pool. "C'mon, Herc, you might catch pneumonia or something."

"Iolaus, don't be silly, I'll be fine." He continued purposefully forward.

"No!" At the last moment, the hunter flung himself into the demigod's path, collided with his chest, lost his balance on the slippery rocks, and fell into the pool, striking his head on a protruding rock as he did so.

"Iolaus!" the demigod cried, as his friend disappeared and blood welled to the surface. Without hesitation, he dived after the blond and after a short and incredibly frantic search in the dark depths of the pool, grasped him and got him to the surface.

With some difficulty, he pushed him out onto the rocks and climbed out after him. The hunter was unconscious and blood was running through his tangled curls from a cut above his right ear. Shivering with cold, the demigod rolled Iolaus onto his side and hastened to grab both their blankets to wrap around him. As he was doing this, the hunter began to choke and cough. Hercules rushed back to support his shoulders as the blond proceeded to bring up a good deal of water mixed with bile. Once his retching had ceased, and with some considerable difficulty, Hercules removed Iolaus' waterlogged leather trousers. Hercules then swathed him in the blankets and then carried him over to their gear. He got out salve and some rags that he'd brought for such emergencies and bandaged Iolaus' head. He then dressed quickly and went in search of firewood.

Eventually, he had a good fire going. He gathered Iolaus onto his lap and sat in front of it, worrying about what to do next. The head wound had not been very deep, but head injuries could be tricky. He hoped the blond would have escaped concussion.

As if on cue, the hunter began to mutter. At first, it was just a string of incoherent sounds, but gradually Hercules began to pick out odd words. There was his name and, surprisingly, Aphrodite was also getting a mention. Then there was something about hunting. An odd word 'Salma'-something kept recurring. Did Iolaus mean Salmoneous? Why would he be thinking about the salesman/celebrity biographer? Suddenly, he realized that the word was not 'Salmoneous', but 'Salmacis'.

He knew he'd heard that word before, but couldn't quite recall where. As he pondered this new conundrum, he gazed idly at the fountain - 'The fountain! Hell, now I remember.'

Although there were a lot of things that Hercules disliked about the gods, many of them *were* his relatives and so he couldn't help himself from having some interest in the various stories that were told of them. As a child, he'd soaked up any of the legends that people had been prepared to tell him. There were others that were not considered suitable for children's ears and, needless-to-say, these were the ones that the children would overhear in adults' conversation and then eagerly whisper to each other, even if they did not fully understand the implications of what their innocent lips were repeating. The story of the Fountain of Salmacis came into that category.

Hercules tried to recall when he'd heard it. Probably when he was eight or nine years old and so before he had met Iolaus. He hadn't understood words like 'enamoured' and 'one organism' so he'd dismissed it from his mind and had never, to his knowledge, ever mentioned it to anyone.

He knew that the legends were not always accurate, but there was usually, at least, some truth in them and often a good deal. 'Gods, what if it's true?' he wondered. Iolaus had not only bathed in the pool, he'd swallowed a lot more of it than was good for him. Okay, he'd been in too but, as a demigod, he knew his reaction to things was not predictable. Sometimes something that affected mortals also affected him and sometimes it did not. He didn't feel any different, but poor Iolaus! This could be an absolute disaster for his womanizing friend.

Some twenty minutes or so had passed before Iolaus' azure eyes fluttered open and peered rather blankly at him. "H-Herc?"

"It's okay, Iolaus, I'm here."

"W-What happened?"

"You fell into the pool. You managed to bash your head on a rock. Do you feel okay?"

"Yeah, I-I suppose so. My head's a bit sore. W-What have you done to yourself? Why are you kind of blurry? Keep still. It's hard to look at you when you're spinning around like that. Never mind, I'll get up now." As he babbled, he made a move to disengage himself from Hercules' arms, but the demigod clutched him firmly.

"No, stay where you are. Just lie still for a few minutes."

"But ..."


Iolaus' lay quietly for some minutes, mulling over what he could remember of events. Then it suddenly hit him. In a very tentative voice, he asked, "How did I get out of the pool?"

"I jumped in and pulled you out and, let me tell you, it was every bit as cold as I thought it would be."

"Oh ... um ... are you ... do you ...have you ... " He didn't know how to ask about the pool's effect on his friend.


"Nothing ... I mean, thank you, Herc."

Both subsided into their own thoughts. Iolaus' vision was clearing, but his mind was whirling in its place. He wondered what effect the fountain had had on him and, more importantly, upon Hercules.

"Are you feeling any better?" Hercules asked, cutting in on his thoughts.

"Yeah, now you've stopped that silly spinning, my eyes are much better."

"Would you like a drink?"

"No, thanks, I'm fine. I'll get up in a minute."

"You still look very pale. I'd like to go and get more wood. Will you stay where you are while I do that, please? I don't want you getting dizzy and falling in again."

"Don't worry, I'm not going near that pool again. I told you it looked dangerous."

So Hercules went and gathered a plentiful supply of firewood and built up the fire, both to keep the blond warm and to start the long process of drying out his leathers. After that he went hunting and returned with a couple of rabbits, which Iolaus insisted on cooking, to ensure they turned out edible. However, neither ate much.

They decided to make an early night of it with the intention of going hunting at dawn provided the blond felt up to it. Both were pretending an enthusiasm for this plan, which they did not feel. There were too many unanswered questions weighing them down.

They settled down to sleep side-by-side. During the night, the demigod rolled over and somehow ended up right against the hunter. The fire had died down and the night was chilly, so Iolaus snuggled against him. It was so comforting to lie against that muscular chest that, for the first time in weeks, the hunter fell into a deep sleep. Sometime later, the demigod rolled onto his back and unknowingly pulled the blond with him, and into his arms, as he did so.

So, when Iolaus finally awoke, he found himself lying on his stomach, partly on top of Hercules and with his head on the latter's shoulder. The demigod was clutching him tightly so he couldn't have moved even had he wished to do so and he certainly did not. He lay quietly, revelling in the situation. This was just where he'd wanted to be for months. But the question was whether the position had been achieved accidentally or by the design of the demigod. Both possibilities held problems. If it was an accident, Hercules was going to be very embarrassed when he awoke. If he'd done this deliberately, it was too much of a coincidence for it not to be the influence of the fountain at work and so it wasn't real love at all, but entrapment.

Unbeknown to Iolaus, the demigod was actually awake as well and he was in a real dilemma. He could feel the soft, fluffy curls tickling his chin and the smooth satin skin of Iolaus' beautiful body pressed against his bare chest. Iolaus' left leg was hooked over him and was resting between his thighs and he could feel the hunter's ... Well, it was better not to think about the parts of Iolaus that were lying on and against his left thigh, separated from his skin only by the thin leather of his trousers. He could feel his penis stirring in response. 'No, I can't,' he thought, desperately. 'He's subconsciously put himself in this position because he's been affected by that damned fountain and I *can't* take advantage of that no matter how long I've wanted him. He wouldn't want me to do *that* if he was in his normal frame of mind.' He willed himself to keep calm. 'I'll have to try to move him while he's still asleep. The main thing is to try not to upset him because he'll probably be already feeling quite confused. I'll have to try to look after him, while I find out if there's anyway of reversing the fountain's effects.'

By this stage, Iolaus had worked himself into quite a state of agitation. He *had* to know whether Hercules had been affected by the fountain. With no clear idea about how to broach the matter, he raised his head, kissed the supposedly sleeping demigod on the cheek, and whispered, "I don't know how I'm going to be able to say anything, but I do love you, Herc."

He felt the arms tighten around him and then release suddenly and realized, with horror, that the demigod was awake and was now trying to extricate himself from beneath him. That seemed to answer one question: Hercules obviously did not return the sentiment and so his god's blood had clearly stopped him from being affected.

Hercules sat up and looked compassionately down at the hunter. "No, you don't, Iolaus," he said, gently, "It's just the effects of that damn fountain. You weren't to know it, but the fountain is enchanted and anyone who bathes in it develops a sudden preference for his own sex. Now don't worry. There must be a way to reverse its effects and, I promise you, I'll find it."

Iolaus had no idea that Hercules had any idea of the fountain's name or properties and was so stunned by this and by his final sentence that he blurted, "But I don't want it reversed."

"Of course you do. Don't worry, you're bound to be feeling a bit confused, but we'll soon have you back to normal," the demigod said, kindly.

"But, Herc, I ..." He trailed off. What could he say? The word 'normal' had particularly thrown him. Obviously, since the fountain was not responsible for his condition, its supposed effects were not going to be reversible, and clearly the demigod did not see love for someone of the same sex as an acceptable thing. 'Gods, why was I stupid enough to try this. Things are getting worse and worse. No wonder Aphrodite didn't guarantee the results,' he thought despairingly, running his hands through his already tangled curls.

Hercules' heart contracted as he watched his friend's agitation and misinterpreted its cause. 'Poor, Iolaus, he's taken the news about the fountain as badly as I feared,' he thought.

Iolaus was wracking his brains trying to decide what to do next. It seemed there were only two options: leaving Hercules or trying to convince him that sex with a male could be both enjoyable and desirable. He didn't like his chances of achieving the second, but he definitely didn't want to do the first. Anyway, failure at option number two still left number one as a last resort.

Then a slightly comforting thought occurred. 'If I make up to Herc now he won't really blame me because he'll think I can't help it. Maybe he'll even humour me a bit so I don't get too upset and, while doing so, might find he actually likes what I'm doing.'

Accordingly, he stood up and stretched his arms above his head, allowing the first rays of the sun to gild his naked body. "I think I'll have a proper swim this time."

At once, the demigod was on his feet. "No, Iolaus, didn't you understand what I told you about the fountain."

"You told me it's already affected me, so it won't matter."

"No!" He grasped the blond's shoulders and swung him around to face him. "Please, Iolaus, just do as I tell you."

The hunter immediately slipped his arms around Hercules' waist and hugged him. "If I can't go swimming, can we do this instead, Herc?" he asked, hopefully. As he spoke, he slid his hands down to cup the demigod's buttocks.

Hercules reached back for his wrists and pulled them away. "No, Iolaus, please behave yourself. We can't do that either."

"But I want to. I won't hurt you, Herc." He reached inside the demigod's shirt, tweaking lightly at a nipple.

"Iolaus, no!" His wrist was gently, but firmly, captured, and removed. "Now, your trousers are dry and I want you to get dressed."

"Not going to."

"Yes, you are." He turned and reached for the trousers, only to feel Iolaus' hands stroking his arse. He spun around. "For the last time, stop that!"

"Make me."

"I will if you're not careful."

"Then I *definitely* won't be."

The demigod stared at him for a moment and then the dinar dropped. "Iolaus, you know what I meant," he scolded, his voice full of exasperation.

Iolaus stuck his lower lip out in a classic pout. "Don't you want me?"

"Get dressed!"

"Why don't you want me?" The voice was full of pathos.

"Look, Iolaus, I am *not* going to do something to you that you will totally regret when you're back to normal."

'Normal'. There was that hateful word again! "Don't you think I'm normal?"

"Iolaus, you're just a bit confused at present."

"No, I'm not!. I think we should ..."

"Stop it, Iolaus! The only thing we are going to do is to head back to civilization. I don't want to see this damned fountain again."

Well, that was easier said than done. The hunter no longer wanted to travel fast. Indeed, he didn't want to walk anywhere and played up every step of the journey. He used every opportunity to touch Hercules and his flirting became more and more outrageous. At times, he got so carried away with the fun of teasing Hercules that he even forgot his problems in the joy of watching his friend's embarrassment.

While fending off these advances, Hercules was trying to decide whom to approach about reversing the enchantment. He didn't want any more people to be aware of the problem than could be helped as he feared Iolaus would be very embarrassed about what had happened when he was back to his old womanizing self. The identity of the god or gods that had answered Salmacis' plea had always been a subject of some conjecture. The two other gods obviously connected with the well were Hermes and Aphrodite, as the parents of Hermaphroditus.

He hesitated to approach the former as he was not to be trusted on two counts. For one thing, besides being the messenger of the gods, he was the patron of rogues, vagabonds and thieves. Secondly, and even more importantly, Hercules had heard rumours about his sexual preferences that suggested he might not consider Iolaus' transformation a bad thing.

That left Aphrodite. She was Hercules' favourite sister and had a definite soft spot for Iolaus, to the extent of making Hephaestus regard the blond with some suspicion, so he figured she would help if she could. Unfortunately, the nearest temple devoted to the goddess was a good three days walk from their present situation.


In spite of Iolaus' willful obstruction, the pair eventually got back to Almiros. They spent a night in the inn again. Unfortunately, there was only a double bed available and Hercules knew that would mean trouble. "We'd better toss for the bed."

"Aw, Herc, there's plenty of room," the hunter protested.

"No way, Iolaus."

Hercules won the toss and put their blankets on the floor for the blond. "Right off to bed with you."

To his amazement, Iolaus obediently undressed and crawled into his blankets. The demigod could hardly believe his luck. After all the trouble the blond had caused during the day, he'd been anticipating a battle.

However, not long after the lamp had been extinguished, he heard a plaintive voice. "Herc, I'm cold. Can I sleep with you please?"

The autumn night *had* turned chilly, but Hercules wasn't having that. "No, I'll give you one of the blankets off my bed."

"Then you'll be cold. Please let me sleep with you. Please. I promise I'll behave."

"Okay, but you'll be right back on the floor if you don't."

A lithe, naked form was across the room in an instant, under the covers and snuggling up against him.

"Hey, you said you were going to behave yourself."

"I am, but I'm cold remember. Feel how cold I am. I just need a bit of a cuddle. Mmmm that's better."

'Better'? Hercules wouldn't have chosen that term. That gorgeous ivory body, satin skin, fluffy curls and all, was as close to Hercules as its owner could get without actually lying on top of him. The demigod wondered how he was going to endure it. Somehow, he forced himself back under the iron self-control that was fast becoming his only shield against Iolaus.

He lay waiting for the hunter's next move, promising himself that he would kick the blond out onto the floor at the first sign of trouble. He was so keyed up that when he felt Iolaus relax into sleep, he almost felt a sense of disappointment.

Finally, he drifted off himself.

When Hercules awoke the next day, Iolaus was still asleep. The hunter was lying on his stomach, like a child, tousled blond head cushioned on a forearm.

Hercules eased the covers back, hoping to slip out of bed and dress without awakening the hunter, but it wasn't to be. The blond immediately stirred and rolled over, limbs splayed wantonly. His beautifully sculpted mouth curved up in a dazzling smile as he saw the demigod looking at him. Love burnt so strongly in his azure eyes that it seared Hercules' heart. The hunter then lowered his long, thick lashes demurely and the golden curls framing his beautiful face gave him a deceptive appearance of innocence.

Hercules' heart turned over. 'He shouldn't be allowed to have long lashes like that, or satin skin or silky curls. He's too much of a temptation for anyone and, even worse, he knows it,' the demigod thought, distractedly.

The hunter held out his arms to him. "I've been good, haven't I, Herc? I should have some reward. Just a cuddle. That's all." The seraphic blue eyes were lit with an unholy gleam of mischief and desire in almost equal portions.


"Yes, please, Herc. You might enjoy it. I *know* I will."

"No. it's breakfast time and I want to eat and then get back on the road as soon as possible."

"If you cuddle me, I promise not to touch you when you're having breakfast."

The demigod was aghast at the implicit threat. 'Touch me? In a public tavern? Gods, surely he wouldn't? Yes, he would! I can't give in to this or he'll be uncontrollable now we're back in civilization. He'll be blackmailing me every step of the way. I can just hear him, "Do this or I'll ... " No, I can't have that.'

"Iolaus, if you touch me during breakfast, or in front of any other person, you will spend the rest of the journey with your hands tied firmly behind you," he said, sternly. "Is that understood? Well, is it?"

The blond nodded reluctantly. He'd known the demigod too long not to be aware that he could be pushed just so far and would be quite capable of carrying out his threat.

Once they were back out into the countryside, the hunter felt emboldened enough to resume his flirtations but, in the interests of self-preservation, he behaved more circumspectly if other travellers approached or when they passed through any villages. However, that still allowed him plenty of leeway and he was all over the demigod at every opportunity and some of the things he suggested made the demigod blush hotly.

That was the pattern for the next two days.

Finally, to Hercules' intense relief, they neared one of Aphrodite's temples. Hercules took the hunter to an inn and booked a room. "Iolaus, I'm going to talk to my sister, Aphrodite, and I want you to wait here."

"Why can't I come with you. I get on well with 'Dite."

'Far too well,' Hercules considered. He wanted to be able to discuss the problem without the hunter there. He feared that, if Iolaus appeared happy with his lot, Aphrodite would refuse to tell them how to reverse the enchantment. "No, you're to wait here." Hercules insisted.

The blond pouted. "Can I give you a goodbye kiss then?"

"All right, if it means you'll do as I've told you," the long-suffering demigod conceded.

"Sit down then so I can reach."

"If I must."

He had hardly touched the chair when he found himself with a lapful of hunter. "Hey, I didn't mean ..." he started, as eager lips descended onto his and a talented tongue pushed into his mouth enthusiastically exploring. Stunned, the demigod took a few moments to gather his wits. He'd never known a kiss like the one he was receiving. The sensation was incredible. Involuntarily, he wrapped his arms around the blond and held him tightly as he struggled to control the emotions flooding over him. He had an overwhelming urge to stand up, with the hunter still wrapped around him, to carry him to the bed and to ... 'No! I can't do that to him. I've got to be strong for his sake.,' he thought, desperately.

So with considerable difficulty, he forced himself to reach for the hunter's arms and to gradually ease him away. "Okay, Iolaus, don't make a meal of it," he managed to joke, feeling a sharp pang of conscience at the hunter's crestfallen face.

He left a very subdued and unhappy hunter sitting in their room and hurried off.

He was soon at the temple and entered quickly. To his considerable surprise, he had hardly crossed the threshold when Aphrodite appeared. It was as if she'd been waiting for him. "Hi, big brother."

"Hello, Aphrodite."

"What brings you here?"

"Aphrodite, I've got a problem. We were out hunting and Iolaus fell into the Fountain of Salmacis and now he thinks he is in love with me."


"What do you mean 'and'?"

"What's the problem?"

Hercules stared at her in disbelief. "I'd have thought that was obvious."


"Iolaus can't ... He doesn't ... He wouldn't want to ..."

"Are you actually trying to tell me that you're not pleased that Sweet-cheeks loves you?" Aphrodite asked, her voice ringing with incredulity. "I'd have thought you'd be delighted. Curly is gorgeous. *Most* people would be overjoyed if he loved them."

"But he's not acting out of his own free will."

"Are you *sure* about that, big brother? He's always loved you, you know."

"Well, yes, but not like *this*. That was kind of like having a favourite brother, but now he's absolutely flinging himself at me."

"And you're concerned for your virtue, are you? I seriously doubt that Blondie could overpower you ... unless you let him." She smiled at the images that were popping into her head.

"Aphrodite, it's *not* funny. I need to know how the enchantment can be reversed."

"Sorry, it can't."

"What? But surely there must ..."

"Nope! There's no way you can alter Sweet-cheek's feelings towards you. If you don't want him, you'll have to tell him to get lost."

"But ... But I *couldn't* say that to him. He'd be so upset and ... and I couldn't ... I don't think I could live without him. We've been friends for so long."

"Well, you'll just have to learn to live with his infatuation then."

"How? It's so difficult. He's all over me and he keeps suggesting ... Well, I'd rather not repeat what he keeps suggesting. What can I do?"

"You'll have to make a few adjustments to your approach."


"Have you considered responding to his advances?"


"Is there an echo here? Look, why not try what he's offering before rejecting the idea."

"But, Aphrodite, I couldn't take advantage of him like that. He wouldn't behave like he is if he had a choice."

"Are you certain of that?"

"Of course, Iolaus wouldn't want a man. He's always chasing women."

"Always? When did he last show any interest in a woman?"

"That would be ... would be ... " He stopped and stared dumbfounded at her as he realized it was at the festival at Naousa and that had been more than five months back. "Okay, it is a while, but I don't think he's been very well for some time, although he won't admit it, and that probably explains it. He really hasn't been showing an interest in anything for months, *even* fishing."

"Hercules, what if he was making up to you by choice?"

"But he's not."

"Okay, but what if he was? Would that make a difference?"

The demigod blushed and looked down.

"Would it? Remember this is the Goddess of Love you're talking to. I do know a lot about these things."

"Okay, it ... might. I'm *not* saying it would," he added quickly. "Anyway he's not acting by choice so that option is definitely a non-starter."

Aphrodite hesitated. 'I'm not sure if this will help you, Sweet-cheeks,' she thought, 'but I think my big brother needs a bit of a jolt about now before his noble sentiments choke him.' She said, "Hercules, how do you know that the spring Iolaus fell into was the Fountain of Salmacis?"

"Iolaus mentioned the name afterwards."

"But how do you know that it was the Fountain?"

"Iolaus said it was and you know what an expert he is on bushcraft and directions. If he thought that's where we were, it would be right."

"Where did he get the information in the first place?"

"Someone told him about it."

"Okay, and you definitely went to the third of the springs."

"Third? But I only saw one."

"No, there are three. There is one by itself and then two more about a quarter of a mile on. The one in question has a large pinkish coloured stone on one side."

Hercules was looking absolutely stunned as the implications of what she was saying struck him. "But ... But he kissed me and ... and said he loved me and ... Aphrodite, have you been trying to tell me something all along?"

"Not trying, big brother, succeeding. I really must go now." The air shimmered and she was gone.

Hercules sat down heavily. 'What in Tartarus is going on?' he asked himself. He sat for a while deep in thought. Iolaus had obviously believed the spring to be the fountain of Salmacis and had been determined to go there. Perhaps he *had* been told that there was better hunting there, but Hercules had not seen any sign of more game in the area. Okay, could the devious hunter possibly have had some other motive for going there and, if so, what? He had certainly not given any indication, when Hercules told him about the fountain's properties, that he'd ever heard of those before. Since it was not Salmacis, Iolaus could not have been affected by it yet, for some reason, the blond was choosing to act as if he had. It could have been his idea of a good joke, but it had gone on for a bit too long for that. Further, his whispered "I do love you, Herc", on the morning after his accident, which the demigod was certain he had not been meant to hear, had been before the demigod told him about the fountain's properties. Indeed, he had definitely been behaving oddly for some weeks.

When all this was combined with some of Aphrodite's comments, it appeared that there had been more in the wily hunter's mind than a simple hunting trip. Yes, the more he thought about it the more convinced he became that Iolaus had deliberately taken him there. He recalled the hunter's attempt to persuade him to swim and then his near frantic change of mind. 'He obviously panicked at the last and wasn't game to go through with his little plan,' he thought. And why would he have had the plan in the first place? Well, it was clear now, even to the demigod, that the hunter had become sexually attracted to him and had decided to try to obtain his consent by this dubious method.

'But why the extreme infatuation act?' he wondered. Then it hit him. 'I bet that devious, little ratbag thinks he can get away with this behaviour now and blame it on the fountain. He'll be hoping I'll at least allow him some liberties because he can't help his actions,' He couldn't help grinning as he thought how frustrated the blond must be with his protective and considerate response, when he was frantically trying to get Hercules to take advantage of him.

'Okay, it must be payback time,' he decided, as he hurried back to the inn.

He went up to their room where Iolaus was waiting. The blond immediately jumped off the bed and hurried towards him, arms outstretched, but Hercules clasped his wrists to prevent the intended embrace. In a voice full of regret, he said, "Iolaus, I'm sorry, but I've reached a decision that is going to upset you. We've got to separate for your protection. You're too much temptation for me and I'm afraid I might take an unfair advantage of you. I know you don't understand exactly what's happened to you but, please believe me, when we find a way to get you back to your old self you'll be relieved that I took this course."

Iolaus stared up at him, his eyes full of anguish and the colour draining from his face. "But, Herc," he protested, "if you're really tempted, why not give in to the urge? Please, you know I want you."

"No, Iolaus, this is for your good."


"No! I'm leaving." He knelt down and began to gather up his gear.

Tears welled up and clouded the hunter's eyes. Determined not to weep in front of Hercules, he surreptitiously wiped his eyes with a hand and turned his back on the demigod. The latter could see his shoulders shaking and heard a stifled sob.

He stood up and put his on the blond's shoulders, gently turning him to face him. "I'm sorry, Iolaus, I can't see any other solution. Can you?"

Iolaus looked bleakly at him for a moment and then lowered his head.

"Can you?" the demigod persisted.

There was still no reply. Then a muttered, "No."

Hercules could stand it no longer. He put out a hand and raised Iolaus' chin. Iolaus gazed up at him, his eyes wide with misery and apprehension, as he wondered what was coming next. The demigod looked into the swamped azure depths of the blond's eyes as if he would burn the truth from the hunter. Then he said, in his best no-nonsense voice, "Are you *sure* you haven't got anything you'd like to tell me, Iolaus?"

The hunter looked up at the figure towering over him."Y-You know?" His voice was a disbelieving whisper.


"D-Did 'Dite tell you?"

"Not exactly. I'd like to hear your explanation *now*."

Iolaus eyed him apprehensively. Hercules' face was inscrutable. The blond was almost frightened of the demigod. He ran a nervous tongue across his lips. "Everything?"

"Yes, and be warned I have a fairly good idea of what's been going on so don't try to leave anything out."

"I'm sorry, Herc."

"I know you are and you should be, but get on with your explanation."

So, his face a picture of guilt and misery, the hunter confessed all. "I'm really sorry, Herc," he concluded, "I didn't think things through properly. I got so desperate that I put you at risk with that damn fountain."

"I suppose I ought to give you a suitable punishment for all this," the demigod observed, "and something's just occurred to me."

Without warning, the demigod pulled Iolaus ruthlessly towards him, clasped him in a grip of steel and kissed him until he was breathless. Iolaus was left bewildered and shaken, his lips tender and tingling from Hercules' bruising kisses. His whole being reeled with shock. When the demigod suddenly released his hold, the hunter was off balance and nearly fell, but Hercules scooped him into his arms and dropped him onto the bed.

To his amazement, he realized the demigod was fumbling with his belts. He felt a frisson of fear. The game *had* been fun to some extent, but the act itself was still an unknown. "H-Herc, what are ..."

"Iolaus, you've been all over me and wriggling your arse at me for days. It's time for me to return the 'favour' and it's too late for you to have second thoughts."

In a matter of moments, he had stripped the hunter completely and was proceeding to explore every inch of his trembling body, except for the parts most desirous of attention, kissing, nipping, stroking and tickling until the hunter was writhing with desire. "Please, Herc," he begged, but the demigod ignored him.

In desperation, Iolaus reached for his own cock, only to have a large hand firmly imprison his wrists and pin them above his head. "Not yet, Iolaus, I'd like you to fully 'enjoy' what I've had to put up with first. You've no idea how frustrating it can be having someone taking every opportunity to touch and caress you and yet be unable to do anything about it. Well, now you can find out."

Finally, aware that Iolaus was all but sobbing with need, his breathing ragged, the demigod relented and suddenly flipped him on to his stomach, gazing lustfully at the creamy globes thus revealed. The next act was new to both and, in his innocence and passion, the demigod sheathed himself in Iolaus' unprepared anus with one hard thrust. Hercules' entry, sudden, heated and painfully stretching caused Iolaus to scream in pain, while frantically trying to pull away. Shaken by the unexpected reaction, the demigod started to withdraw. Somehow, Iolaus managed to force himself to gasp, "No, keep going, Herc, it *must* get better or nobody would *ever* do this."

Hercules settled into a rhythm and slowly increased his momentum, grasping and milking Iolaus' penis as he did so. Gradually, Iolaus became aware of pleasure mixing with the pain and slowly dominating it. Then, without warning, he was hit by a sensation such as he'd never known. He nearly fainted as an intense wave of painful ecstasy washed over him, overwhelming him. He ejaculated helplessly. The scream of passion he gave tore through the demigod, who immediately emptied his seed in an orgasm that frightened him with its intensity. He collapsed on top of the hunter gasping for breath and nearly smothering his lover in the process.

Becoming aware of Iolaus' increasingly frantic struggles to extricate himself, the demigod reluctantly withdrew. He then rolled the hunter on to his back and kissed him. "I'm sorry, I hurt you, Iolaus."

"Don't worry, Herc, it *was* worth it. I just hope you enjoyed it enough to want to repeat the experience."

"Never doubt it, my love, but I do have one request."

"What's that, Herc?"

"Next time you want me to do something just *ask*. I've wanted you for years, you know. You didn't need the Fountain of Salmacis."

An invisible Goddess of Love smiled. "I knew *that*," she whispered

The End

For the purposes of this story, I have taken the myth as told by Bernard Evslin in "Gods, Demigods and Demons - An Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology", but there are other versions of the myth whereby Iolaus' concern about transformation into an hermaphrodite was fully justified.

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

Back to the Story List

Get your own! Free web page that is, from:


Hosted by