Ares stood watching the steady rise and fall of Iphicles' half-covered chest. Each long, deep breath caused the loosely draped sheets to lightly chafe the curling chest hairs with a friction that sent jolts of desire straight to Ares' cock. He closed his eyes but that only served to magnify the soft rasping in his ears and turn the occasional muffled sigh into a deafening sexual entreaty. Ares re-opened his eyes, adjusted his uncomfortably tight leathers, and kicked the bed frame. Hard. A loud thud echoed satisfyingly off the chamber walls; the bed shuddered dramatically; Iphicles smiled in sleepy oblivion, turning on his side to snuggle into the pillows. With a growl creeping up his throat, Ares kicked the bed hard enough to crack the wood. Iphicles mumbled contentedly and kissed the linen beneath his lips. Ares grabbed the mattress and tumbled the sleeping mortal to the floor.
Iphicles didn't shout. The strange whooping noises that came from under the melee of bedclothes could not be described as shouts. Ares considered the curious panting as he walked around the bed for a better view of the emerging king. "Morning." He smiled brightly.
"You bastard!" Iphicles pushed back his rioting hair and glared up at Ares. "What the fuck was that for? Run out of bugs to fireball?"
"Come on, get dressed." Ares offered his hand to help Iphicles up. "It's important."
"What's wrong?" Iphicles frowned, ignoring the outstretched hand to study Ares' tense stance. "You look kind of--"
"Just get ready." Ares turned his back on Iphicles' unsettlingly worried look and strode across to the open window. "You've got a lot of work ahead of you."
"Doing what?" Iphicles began rustling around while Ares watched the sun drag itself over the tree line. "And what were you doing? You look like something Graegus threw up."
Ares scowled around just in time to see a perfect view of Iphicles' ass as he wriggled into his leggings. "I'd be more worried about the army camped on my border than someone else's fucking habits if I were you." Ares settled down on the stone window ledge and watched Iphicles struggled around to gape at him.
"Army? What fucking army?" He stalked towards Ares. "I haven't heard of an approaching army. What do they want? Who is it? Is this your doing? This better be a fucking joke."
"It's no joking matter, believe me." Ares crossed his legs at the ankles even as his grip tightened on the smoothly worn stone beneath his fingers. "It's Tynaeus' army. Which makes it mine, technically speaking." He watched Iphicles' heaving chest still.
"Technically speaking," Ares answered Iphicles' quiet question. "Tynaeus is the Thracian king. He keeps the Persians--"
"I know who he is," Iphicles snapped. "What's he doing at my border? How did he get so far without anyone knowing he was on the move?"
Ares shook his head. "This is all Cupid's fault."
"How did he get so far so fast, Ares?" Iphicles ground out. "Did you help him? Are you attacking me?"
"What?" Ares stood, glowering. "What are you blathering about?"
"He'd need to have godly help to move so fast without anyone seeing him." Iphicles' face crumpled in confusion. "Wouldn't he?"
"If I was attacking you..." Ares took a firm grip of Iphicles' neck before kissing him so savagely his bottom lip burst beneath Ares' teeth. Then, with the sweet taste of mortal blood still warming his mouth and the feel of strong fingers twisting painfully in his hair, Ares broke the kiss to meet Iphicles' devouring gaze. "I think one of his brothers helped him." Ares watched Iphicles suck his bleeding lip. "Phobos, probably. He's got the power and the military training. Deimos is too lazy."
Iphicles released his lip. "Phobos?" His fingers loosened in Ares' hair. "Tynaeus is your son?"
"Yeah." Ares nodded, stepping back to retake his seat on the window ledge. "His mother was an Ethiopian priestess. Damn fine looking woman. Pretty handy with a throwing axe too." Ares savoured the last traces of Iphicles' blood on his tongue. "Which is actually the heart of the problem." He watched Iphicles chew his bleeding lip. "If Tynaeus didn't take after his delicious mother so, he wouldn't have the ability to make his enemies just want to fuck him to death. A handy trait by any measure."
"I'm sure." Iphicles wiped his lip with the back of his hand, smearing the blood. "But what has this got to do with me or Corinth? And why is it Cupid's fault?"
"That's not your concern." Ares stood and straightened his leathers. "Your people are going to get jumpy as soon as they hear about Tynaeus. Your job is to keep them calm until I can sort this out. Just sit tight and don't start any trouble."
"What?" Iphicles laughed in disbelief. "You tell me there's an army of Thracians at my border then ask me to do nothing?"
"No," Ares replied darkly, "I'm not asking you to do nothing. I'm telling you. I only came to inform you so you wouldn't go into hysterics when the messengers arrived. You running off to fight Tynaeus with a half-assed plan won't do anyone any favours. Is that clear?" Ares moved close to Iphicles, crowding the mortal until he was forced to step back.
"I'll have to mobilise." Iphicles' look was searing. "I can't be seen to be sitting on my thumbs even if my plans are half-assed."
"Fine." Ares reached out to the aether as he prepared to take his leave. "Just don't provoke Tynaeus." Judging Iphicles' expression as being more angry than rebellious, Ares flashed out of the palace at Corinth to reappear in a dark temple in Thebes...
And sneezed before he could block the smoky, heavily frankincense scented air from invading his physical body. "Cupid?" Ares called into the dimness of the main chamber, squinting at the naked tangle of semi-conscious bodies that littered the floor, unable to pick out his son's white-winged form. The occasional feather clinging to the odd damp back was the only evidence of Cupid's activities.
Weaving his way through the groaning, lust-sated bodies, Ares was struck once more by the similarity between the aftermath of an orgy and the aftermath of a battle. Both left you drained but--
Ares' thoughts were cut short by the familiar sound of harsh panting moans and the rhythmic creaking of a stressed wood. He paused on the other side of Cupid's private chamber door, resting his palm against the smooth wood before opening the door and finding just what he expected: Cupid rutting, long and hard, into a large, dark-skinned mortal male who thrashed with every beat of Cupid's sweat sticky wings. Ares stood silently in the doorway, letting Cupid's wings waft the strong scent of sex over him until Cupid's face suddenly turned towards him. Cupid's eyes widened in shock then fluttered closed as his final stroke brought both himself and the mortal below to a shattering climax.
"Ares," Cupid panted, "you're late." He moved off the unconscious mortal to stand on the polished floor, folding his damp wings awkwardly behind him. "You've missed the orgy." He walked over to the small, pearl-topped refreshment table and poured himself a goblet of wine. "I think the mortals are all used up." Cupid breathed noisily into the goblet before gulping down the wine. "I could get more sent over." He wiped a trickle of red wine from his chin with his forearm.
"Don't bother." Ares forestalled Cupid's telepathic message to his priests with a slight shake of his head. "That's not what I came for."
"It's not?" Cupid poured more wine into his goblet with a shaky hand as Ares approached him.
"No, it's not." Ares took the goblet from Cupid and sipped it while Cupid tried unsuccessfully to fold his wings into a more comfortable position. "I came to talk about Tynaeus."
Confusion twisted Cupid's face until he sank down on the edge of the bed, scowling. "What about him?"
"Don't give me that 'what about him' crap." Ares threw the remaining wine over the snoring mortal's back so it splashed pointedly over the sheets. "That idiot can't see anything but your shapely ass." He pushed the goblet into Cupid's stomach, his face just above Cupid's. "And Phobos managed to talk him into attacking Corinth of all places."
"Why would he do that?" Cupid shuffled out from under Ares, cleaning and dressing himself in one subdued flash of power. "Phobos is hardly a smooth talker."
"Phobos offered Tynaeus a chance at revenge." Ares flashed his teeth. "My guess is that Tynaeus wasn't getting his piece of ass so he didn't want me to get mine either."
"But that doesn't make any sense."
"You know more about love than me," Ares sneered. "But it obviously made sense to Tynaeus. So get your ass down to his camp so he can fuck it and we can all get on with business...What now?" Ares rolled his eyes at Cupid's stubborn expression.
"I'm not just going to turn up in his camp and ask him to fuck me."
"Why not?" Ares nodded towards the slumbering mortal. "I know you want him."
"It's not as simple as that." Cupid turned his back on Ares, almost giving his father a face full of twitching feathers. "We're not exactly on speaking terms."
"Speaking? You're fucking. You don't need to be 'on speaking terms' to fuck, Cupid. Didn't your mother teach you anything?"
This time Ares did get a face full of feathers as Cupid whirled around to face him. "You're such a callous bastard. I'll never understand what Aphrodite saw in you beyond the size of your cock, you know that?"
"Perhaps my cock was all she needed," Ares tossed back the automatic reply while studying Cupid's fury. Realisation soon dawned and he sank to the bed with a heavy sigh. "I don't believe it." Ares pushed the mortal's legs to the side and flopped back on the mattress. "You two morons are mooning over each other." He draped a forearm over his face. "That is truly pathetic. Do you know how pathetic that is?" He lifted his arm to see Cupid standing, arms tightly folded over his chest, glaring into space. "You're supposed to be a love god." Ares sat up. "This is embarrassing. Tynaeus I can understand, but you? I'm going to speak to your mother about this."
"And say what exactly, Dad?" Cupid suddenly bellowed so loud he woke the mortal. "That I embarrass you?"
Ares slowly stood, keeping eye contact with Cupid's blazing glare and ignoring the scurrying mortal hurrying from the room. "I didn't say you were embarrassing. I said the situation was embarrassing." Ares kept his voice low and steady as he backed Cupid up against the wall. "When have I ever argued your nature?" Cupid's wings were flat to the stone now but he still had that stubborn look on his face that dared Ares to continue. "You are what you are. But this piss poor effort with Tynaeus was above and beyond the call of stupidity for any god. Even your less capable brothers."
Finally breaking Ares' gaze, Cupid licked a bead of sweat from his top lip. "I know that. Don't you think I know that?"
"Then stop whining and rutting mortals and get down to Tynaeus. Now."
"I can't." Cupid wriggled out from Ares again. "It's not that easy."
"What could be so difficult about it?" Ares closed his eyes and cursed Aphrodite's propensity to pop out kids whenever the notion took her fancy. "You want Tynaeus, Tynaeus wants you. You show up, you fuck, he goes back to Thrace and I fuck Iphicles. Simple."
"No, it's not." Cupid turned his back on Ares again. "He wants more than just sex. He...Tynaeus wants to be bound to me."
"But he's immortal." Ares frowned, reaching out to stroke Cupid's restlessly rustling feathers. "Forever is a long time to be sickening for someone."
"I know." Cupid leaned into Ares' touch. "I know that. I wouldn't bind him if he was mortal, let alone immortal."
"Fine." Ares stepped away from Cupid and reached out to the aether. "I'll talk to Tynaeus, you come when I call you." He flashed off before Cupid could face him...
And re-emerged from the aether just outside Tynaeus' black command tent.
Tynaeus had chosen his campsite well. It was on high ground with the sea to his back and Ares could pick out the glint of his armoured soldiers in the small forest to the south. Tynaeus had chosen a stretch of land he could easily defend with a tenth of the army currently milling around his campfires. The area was his for as long as he chose to occupy it. Ares had expected nothing less. With a glance at the defensive ships in the small bay, Ares threw back the tent flap and entered the darkness within.
"I knew you'd come, my Lord." Tynaeus stood up from the candlelit desk, a map roll clutched in one large hand, his high ponytail swinging from behind one broad shoulder to the other. "I've been waiting for you."
"Well, that was your second mistake." Ares sucked his bottom lip thoughtfully. "Do you know what your first one was?"
"Coming here, Lord Ares."
"Very good." Ares flashed his teeth and strolled around behind Tynaeus to whisper in his ear. "I don't appreciate being brought into your petty squabbles with your brothers. I don't care what Phobos told you to do--"
"Phobos told me to do nothing," Tynaeus snapped, stepping away and turning to face Ares, his long black hair swishing behind him. "I came here of my own will."
"Oh?" Ares blinked sarcastically. "This was all your idea? You knew I'd be fucking the peace goddesses all night? You're the one who talked the sea nymphs into carrying your ships here so fast? If this is the case, you deserve a loftier position than joint King of Thrace." Ares leaned in to whisper in Tynaeus' ear again. "Is that what you think? Do you want more than I've seen fit for you?"
"No, my Lord." Tynaeus dropped to one knee. "I bow to your wisdom always. I didn't come here to--"
"I know why you came here." Ares turned his back on Tynaeus to pace the tent floor. "I know about your spat with Cupid. Phobos no doubt came to you while you were in the midst of drowning your sorrows, telling you to get off your muscular rear and do something other than whine like a woman. Right?" He raised an eyebrow and Tynaeus nodded, his eyes downcast. "Phobos told you about my activities last night and you made sure Tereus was off fucking that poor bitch Philomela so he wouldn't squeal on you. Phobos makes a few promises he can't keep to a few nymphs, and here you are in Corinth." Ares crouched down in front of Tynaeus and tipped up the strong chin so he could look his son in the eye. "I have only one question, Tynaeus." Ares fingered a high cheekbone. "What were you going to do with Iphicles?"
"Nothing, Father," Tynaeus immediately replied, dropping the scroll to hold Ares' hand in his own. "I would never go against your wishes. I merely sought to relieve the pain of doing nothing. I know only war. This is all I could think of. Forgive me, Great Ares." He kissed Ares' ring then held the captured hand to his cheek.
"Very well." Ares eased himself free and stood. "Stand up and tell me why you want to be bonded to a love god. Is war not enough for you? Must you chase after your brother like a heartbroken puppy?"
"I did not plan to be this way." Tynaeus drew himself up to his full size, his jaw muscles working at the insult. "I was disgusted to find myself in such a position."
"What position?" Ares settled down on edge of the desk and folded his arms.
"Being in love," Tynaeus ground the words out as if broken glass would be more palatable.
"Yes." Tynaeus paused. "And Cupid wants you."
"He'll get over it." Ares watched Tynaeus' proud shoulders drop a little. "And so will you." He stood up and took Tynaeus by the biceps. "Swearing yourself to Cupid may sound like a great idea when even a chicken feather gives you a hard on, but asking Cupid to artificially prolong it is ridiculous. He won't do it. He didn't do it. He ran off and fucked a dozen mortals that looked like you. Forget about this bonding idea." Ares moved his hands up to either side of Tynaeus' neck. "As long as you want him this badly, it's impossible for Cupid to leave you." He squeezed Tynaeus' neck. "Understand?"
At Tynaeus' nod, Ares felt out through the aether for Cupid and heard him flash into the tent a split second later.
"Now fuck him and get back to Thrace before the Persians figure out you've gone because that would make me one severely pissed off war god. Got it?"
Tynaeus' nodded distractedly, his attention already consumed by the pensive twitching of Cupid's wings. Then Cupid smiled and Tynaeus was across the tent, negotiating their new relationship tongue to tongue.
With a slight shake of his head, Ares flashed back to the Royal Palace of Corinth...
And couldn't find Iphicles in his chambers or in the empty council room.
He ended up tracking Iphicles to the deserted stables, where he found the king brushing his favourite horse. "Did they all run away with out you, Iphicles?" Ares strolled over the straw, inhaling the horse-scented air and smirking at Iphicles' flustered attempt to ignore him.
"No. They're out on manoeuvres." Iphicles petted the horse's white flank and exited the stall. "Cupid told me what happened, that Tynaeus would be going back to Thrace. He stopped by just after you left." Iphicles shut the stall and smiled at Ares. "I thanked him for explaining everything to me since you couldn't be bothered."
"I don't care what Cupid told you, I said do nothing." Ares backed Iphicles into the entrance of next empty stall. "Why is your army out on manoeuvres when I told you to do nothing?"
Iphicles shrugged. "Look around, Ares. I am doing nothing." He smirked and Ares shoved him, sending Iphicles flying back into the empty stall where he landed heavily in a bed of fresh straw, knocking the breath from his lungs.
"And you look like a wayward mortal that needs to be taught a few lessons in worship."
"Really?" Iphicles wheezed the dusty air, watching Ares open his horse's stall. "And what are you going to teach me exactly?" He stopped brushing the straw from his clothes as his clothes simply disappeared.
"Whatever you need to learn." Ares stroked the horse's warm velvet nose, letting the animal snort and toss his head before tugging at his ears. "I'm adaptable."
"And I'm naked in a stable with two stable boys due back with water at any moment."
"Sounds like the beginning of a pretty hot story." Ares grinned, stroking down the horse's back. "If I tied you over one of the railings, do you think they'd take turns fucking you?"
"No," Iphicles returned, but wriggled suspiciously around in the straw. "And you wouldn't let them anyway."
"Is that so?" Ares came back out the stall and re-closed it before he saw what Iphicles was up to -- and that sight sent his blood roaring straight to his crotch. While finding a more comfortable position in the straw, Iphicles had found a stalk with a frayed end and was now using it to tease his cock, circling it around the engorged head then stroking it up and down the thickest vein on the shaft. Ares cleared his throat. "It might be educational for you."
"You think?" Iphicles watched him with hooded eyes. "I think you'd like this better. Do I get a say in this worship program?"
"That could be arranged." Ares stretched out next to Iphicles and took the stalk from his hand. "It depends on your suggestions." He trailed the frayed end down the length of Iphicles' cock then used its tickling pressure to ease open his thighs.
"I'm told I can be quite persuasive." Iphicles wriggled closer, worming his hand into Ares' vest and twisting his fingers against the pressure of the belt.
"And who told you that?" Ares lay back on the hay and got rid of his leathers to feel the cool stalks indenting his skin as Iphicles straddled his thighs.
"Do you think I'm lying?"
"No." Ares let Iphicles take the frayed stalk from his fingers and closed his eyes against the delicious tickling of his hardening length. "But I think you may be exaggerating slightly."
Ares jerked at the lash of hot tongue over tip of his cock.
"How much is slightly?" Iphicles shook a lock of hair from his eyes and a splash of sweat hit Ares' stomach. Then tickling was back, this time with the maddening edge of elusiveness.
"It's hard to say." Ares kept his voice steady as Iphicles began teasing his nipples with a second frayed stalk. "All mortals are pretty much the same."
"Is that what Cupid thinks about Tynaeus?" Iphicles retorted but his attentions remained excruciatingly even.
"Tynaeus is an immortal."
"Are all gods the same? What does Tynaeus think of Cupid?"
"Why don't you ask Tynaeus?" Ares gasped a breath under a quick, hard suck of his cock. "Fuck, Iphicles!" The tickling strokes turned to his balls.
"So what did you tell Tynaeus?"
"What do you care?"
"I'm just interested. How did you talk him out of attacking Corinth?"
"I didn't have to talk him out of it. He already knew it was stupid."
"Then what was he doing here?" Another scorching suck enveloped Ares deeper this time. Ares managed a quick thrust before Iphicles withdrew and the stalk was back with its exquisite torture. "Why did Tynaeus land at all?"
"He wanted to get Cupid's attention." Ares suddenly flipped Iphicles onto his back, grasping his wrists and pinning them over his head in a flurry of straw. "War was the only way he knew how to do that."
"It worked." Iphicles lay panting beneath Ares, trying to rub his hot, desperate body against Ares as much as possible. "Tynaeus got Cupid, didn't he?"
"Not like he wanted." Ares began a line of biting kisses down Iphicles' chin and neck, while teasing Iphicles' straining cock with the occasional pressure of his ass. "Tynaeus has a crush on Cupid." Ares licked the salty mixture of sweat and straw dust from his lips. "He tried to make Cupid bind him to it."
"I didn't know gods were familiar with crushes." Iphicles jerked his hips in an effort to prolong the pressure on his cock. "I thought they were a mortal thing -- shit! Ares, you're killing me here."
"No, the gods are all too familiar with these little infatuations." Ares stopped all motion, ignoring the frantic throbbing of his own need to watch Iphicles writhe beneath him.
"Just fuck me." Iphicles gulped a breath. "Fuck me before you kill me."
"I thought you wanted to talk." Ares smirked at Iphicles' frustrated growl.
"All right." Iphicles rubbed a hip against the inside of Ares' thigh. "Who was your first crush? Which god or goddess had you jerking off in the middle of the night?"
"Hades," Ares replied flatly, immediately releasing Iphicles' wrists to reposition himself with his hands under Iphicles' knees. In less than a heartbeat, Ares had Iphicles' thighs folded flat to his chest and only used a flash of power to ease his way into the mortal heat at the very last moment so Iphicles' cries were in pleasure not pain.
"Oh fuck!" Iphicles wrapped his arms around Ares' neck and his breath hissed in Ares' ear while Ares thrust in time to their hammering hearts until their breathing became ragged and his long strokes began to falter. Then the stable was engulfed by the tremendous tide of pleasure that left nothing but Iphicles wrapped tightly around him, gasping his name and stroking his shoulders.
"Fuck, Ares." Iphicles grinned as Ares moved off him. "Give me some warning next time." But his grin faded when Ares evaded his reaching hand and sat up, effectively turning his back on Iphicles.
"You got plenty of warning. You were begging for it." Ares shook straw dust from his hair and ignored Iphicles' fingertip caress of his lower back.
"Hades, huh?" Iphicles' voice struggled to keep a light tone. "I suppose it was a big power in the dark kick for you?"
"Is Hades good looking? Does he look anything like you?"
"You'll find out." Ares stood up, flashing on both their clothes before looking back at Iphicles, and wishing he hadn't.
"What would you have done in Tynaeus' position?" Iphicles asked, his face flushed and his hair tousled and dulled with dust. "Would you have gone to war too?"
Ares inclined his head towards the sound of approaching laughter and heard water splashing on the courtyard stones. "You're stable boys are back." He reached out to the aether and flashed away before Iphicles could finish inhaling his next breath.
Erotes: The collective name for the passions Cupid was thought to represent.