Hot ice and wondrous strange snow

by Emcee

None of you will bid the winter come
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw;
Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course
Through my burn'd bosom; nor entreat the north
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips
And comfort me with cold. I do not ask you much:
I beg cold comfort;
    From: King John by W. Shakespeare

I'm...okay. I think. Not good, no, never that. But breathing doesn't hurt so much--that burning agony that seared my chest every time I took another breath is gone. After he died, I wanted to stop breathing. When I couldn't find his soul, I wanted to die too. But that's not allowed. I'm Zeus' son, his favorite. Ha! So I'm not able to lay the sorry burden of my life down. I get to live, to see Iolaus die. Because of me, always because of me.

It's cold here, so cold. But it's good. Ice grows everywhere, from every roof gable and brittle pine branch, spreading out long arms and clinging tendrils as fast as the grapevines that grow back home. It's growing inside me now, forming icy crystals along my spine, in my heart, freezing the torment inside me. I want that.

After Sumeria, I didn't want to carry on. I wanted to disappear, get lost in my memories and leave this fucked up world to its own devices. But I'm not even entitled to that. The dammed Druids made sure of it. I'm a hero, a stupid, pointless hero, and it turns out that heroes are not allowed to give up. Should have read the small print before I signed up. Too late now, much too late.

Only, since he...died, time seems to be moving differently, making me feel old in the space of one winter. I looked for signs of gray this morning when combing my hair. Of course, I didn't find anything; I'm the same, always the same.

I'm glad I came here though, to these northern lands, even if it was to do a hero's job, even if it was to save a god. I thought killing them would make me feel better, cauterize the pain. But it didn't. After Dumuzi and Kernonnus died, I just felt worse, the pain burning deeper, eating into my soul.

So, instead, I saved a god. A Nordic god, a good god. Yeah, hard to believe they exist, but this Baldur is a good one. The funny thing is, I thought I'd be happy to find, at last, a god who cares for humanity, who helps them. And yeah, it was great, but...I thought I'd be happier about it. Don't get me wrong. He's a great guy, well, god, but he's kind of... uninteresting.  He's like those apples they put on 'Dite's altar. They look appetizing, shiny, rosy. But when you bite into them, the flesh is like boiled barley mush, without taste or texture. Boring.

Ironic, isn't it? All these years I've groused about my selfish, indifferent family, and when I finally meet the perfect example of what I thought would be the ideal god, I find him boring. What does it say about me? Do I know what I want anymore? Did I ever know?

I find myself preferring Thor, his half-brother. That's a bit of a shock. He's not the God of War, not like...  Oh, he's just as violent and just as vicious, and none too bright either, but at least he feels; he hates, and he loves with burning passion. Loves his brother Baldur, more than loves. I've seen Thor's eyes light up when he looks at him, and there's love there all right, and not just of the fraternal kind. I don't think Thor's aware of it himself. I've noticed though, and that surprises me--it's not the kind of thing I usually pay much attention to. Maybe I noticed because I'm more used to seeing the light of hate when I look into my brother's eyes.

And right on cue, here he comes, the God of Thunder. Did he know I was thinking about him? Nah, he's not the type to rummage in other people's minds. Especially mine. He's made his dislike pretty obvious.

He's looking uneasy, uncomfortable. Wonder what he wants?

"Hercules." Those green eyes of his are full of fire and aggression, like... No, his are black, black as his soul.

I nod my head in acknowledgment. "Thor. What's up?" He's like a dog who's not certain if he's facing an intruder or an ally. So he wags his tail and bares his teeth at the same time. Mixed signals.

"We thank you for saving Baldur's life. We are all grateful." He takes a deep breath and mutters in a low growl, "I, Thor, am grateful." That cost him.

"It was nothing. I could do no less." I can afford to be gracious. I beat the shit out of him earlier on, in a future that won't happen now. I seem to do that a lot, create alternate timelines. Do I play god with time? That's a thought.

He circles me uneasily before settling down, awkward and stiff by my side, vainly trying  to look at ease. He really is like a dog. I won't tell him though, or I'll probably get whacked with Mjollnir. That dammed hammer hurts.

"So. Are you to return to your lands tomorrow? To Greece?"

Am I? I don't know, I don't know what to do with myself, where to go, what to do with my miserable life. "Maybe," I tell him finally. "I haven't really given it any thought."

He looks at me with his fiery eyes, the exact color of these frigid northern waters. He's a strange contrast: fire and ice. "You are troubled," he tells me.

My, he's observant. Troubled doesn't even begin to describe it. I'm totally fucked up, a walking disaster, just a hair's breadth from melt-down. Yeah, you could say I'm troubled.

"I've lost...a good friend. My best friend." Now, why did I tell him that?

"You loved him." He's a master of the obvious, this thunder god.

"Yeah, I loved him." I'm spilling my guts out here, to him of all people. But maybe it's not so strange. I know he understands where  I'm coming from, because that was him not so long ago, even if he doesn't quite remember; he knows, because he came so close to losing the person he loves most.

Thor looks out into the distance, eyes narrowing against the glare of frozen sunlight. "It is hard, losing someone you love. It is like you die yourself; something breaks."

He's right. Something breaks. I'm broken, bits and pieces scattered everywhere, and I don't know how to put them back together again. I don't know If I even want to.

"He'll be all right. You'll make sure," I reassure him.  He'll be on guard now, his brother's shadow, protecting him every moment. He won't take anything for granted. As I did.

He nods again. A man of few words, but then I'm not much better myself.

"I came to invite you to a feast. You are the guest of honor. We're celebrating Baldur's escape from death, thanks to you." He turns to me and attempts a smile. Obviously not something he does too often because it looks more like a snarl. He's trying though, I'll give him that.

"I'm not really in the mood for parties."

"We also have a feast when someone dies. We drink and remember, then drink to forget."

"I don't drink." Not even after Hera killed my family, or when Serena died. I tore the house apart, but I didn't drink. Not even for Iolaus.

"Try it. It will help. Drink and think of...what was he called, your friend?"

"Iolaus, his name was Iolaus." It hurts to say his name, but it feels good too. Maybe he's right. Maybe I if I drink the pain won't feel so bad. "All right. Just don't expect me to be the life of the party."

He smiles his grim little smile again. "You do not have to worry. The drink will provide all the entertainment we need."

He gets up and moves purposely towards the great hall. "Come," he barks over his shoulder. "They are waiting."

So I follow. The place is full of fur-clad warriors, mercifully unarmed. The glint of an ax-head or a spear catches my eye, and I realize they've piled their weapons in the corners of the huge, smoky hall. 

Thor leads me past the fire pit, to the top of the massive oak table where Odin and Baldur are seated. I find myself acknowledging the solemn greetings from the huge men on one side, the women on the other. It's somewhat unnerving because no one smiles, though they seem to approve of me. Thor leads me to the place of honor, next to Baldur and then sits on my right. Looks like he's been given the task of taking care of me. I don't think he volunteered for the job. I bet Baldur asked him, and Thor can't deny him anything.

The servants stagger in with huge platters of roasted meat and a massive cauldron of boar stew. These people do everything on a gigantic scale, but then I'm told that many of them are related to the frost giants, who also happen to be their worst enemies. I thought my Olympian family was a mess, but this lot is even worse.

Take Loki. His parents are frost giants, the bad guys; he's forever causing trouble, yet he hangs around here, or did, and no one seems to mind. Thor even considered him a friend, though he knows Loki will betray him at Ragnarok. Everyone knows about Ragnarok--the day when the frost giants will bring about the end of the world; it's all they seem to talk about. Until then, it's okay for Thor to have one as his mistress, or so I'm told.

Then there's Odin. He has wives by the bushel, some of them frost giants--I still can't get my head round that--although Frigga is the official queen here in Asgard; another Hera, but without the bile. I like her. She's the mother of Baldur, but not of Thor, yet she prefers him to her own son Tyr. Confusing? Oh yeah!

The tables are groaning now with meats and mead and some weird stinking stuff they seem to like: smoked seal or whale, who knows. I'm staying clear of it. The mead is good though, sweet, smooth. And kicks harder than the goat it comes from. I can see how this would drive away the demons; it's doing a good job of frying my brain, but that's what I want. I'll have to take a barrel or two with me when I leave.

The party is beginning to pick up, now that the mead has been flowing freely for a good while.  Everyone is shouting and stomping, boasting about that day's fight. At the beginning, they were all silent and gloomy, shoveling in that damn boar stew. They always eat boar stew. Seems the animal is resurrected at night and gets cooked and eaten again the following day. Creatures of habit, these Norse. Every damn day, they fight, they eat, they fuck, and in between, they talk endlessly about battles and Ragnarok. I think I'd get bored pretty quickly if I stayed long.

At the head of the table, Odin has those two ravens whispering in his ear, Baldur is laughing at something Frigga said, and Thor drinks, and eats his brother with his eyes. I was right: he's got the hots for Baldur, as Iolaus would say. Iolaus. If he were here, he'd be making wisecracks, coming up with those awful puns of his, and be the life and soul of the party. He would have shown this dreary lot how to enjoy themselves. Gods, I miss him.

"How did your friend die?"

I must be really obvious if a love-sick Thor has noticed.

"He died fighting evil, saving someone's life." Saving her. I know it was the right thing to do, what I would have done, but I still resent her for it. Petty of me, I know, but I feel petty, petulant, pathetic. I'm pathetic.

He nods with approval. "A warrior's death. A noble way to die. You must be proud of him." He would say that. They all say that, and my reaction is always the same: Fuck nobility, fuck heroism, fuck all of you. I want him alive, here by my side, where he belongs.  I'm not proud. I'm so furious I could spit.

I don't tell him though; he wouldn't understand. "Yeah, so I'm told."

His gaze is surprisingly shrewd. "But you would rather have him alive."

Maybe he does understand.

"We believe it is a great honor to die in battle. Odin and Freyja share the bravest of the warriors and gather them in Asgard, for the time when Ragnarok comes." He turns away to do some more Baldur watching.

Ragnarok again. "Very comforting for their wives and children, I'm sure." I can't help sounding bitter.

He turns back to me with an unexpectedly sober look. "There is no comfort for us, no happy ending. One day Ragnarok will come, and all shall die. That is our fate."

"We make our own fate."

"No. We cannot escape our fate. Baldur will die one day, Ragnarok will come. No one can change that."

"I saved Baldur. He's not dead, is he?"

"Not today." He looks at his brother, and the pain of loss is there. It's always been there. I just hadn't noticed.

"Come on. You know about Loki now, and you won't let it happen." Damn it, they are so blind about this fate business. I know one can change it. I just did.

"Why did you come here?"

"I told you. I had a dream, a vision, whatever.  I came to help your brother." How many times do I have to say this? I came to help them.

"Why? Because that is what you do? Because that is your fate?"

Fuck. Fuck. No. I came because it was the right thing to do, because I felt it was something I had to... Fuck.

He gives me his snarling smile. "You play your part, as we all do. Baldur was not fated to die today; that is why you came."

He's wrong. He's got to be wrong. I've changed things. No one told me to come. No one. It's always been my decision. My decision to change their fate.

Gods, that's what I've done, isn't it? Loki wrote the future one way, and I wrote it another. The end results is the same. They didn't get to choose. Is some one else writing my fate too? No, I won't accept that. I can't. I grab the goblet and drink some more, lots more.

Things are getting really lively now. The warriors not still describing their brave deeds for the umpteenth time are pairing off with the women and disappearing into the corners of the hall. Looks like it's time for the daily fucking. And it's time for me to make tracks; I'm not in the mood for the floor show. But I think I'll take some of this goat juice with me, so I can stop thinking.

I turn to Thor, and find him staring at me with a strange gleam in his eye. He looks away, then takes a deep breath and turns back. Something's up with Hammerboy.

"Hercules, I would speak with you."

"Go ahead." Wonder what he wants now?

"Not here,"  he mutters uncomfortably. His face has turned this funny color. Is he blushing? Nah, not Thor; must be the mead. Or... Oh, oh no. He's not going to set me up for the night with some female, is he? What if he offers me his mistress? Gods. Oblivion would be nice about now.

"It will be more fitting to discuss this in my hall. Come, follow me." He springs up and marches resolutely towards a doorway.

Fuck, he is going to set me up with his mistress. I guess I should be grateful, but - a frost giant? This is going to be embarrassing. Why is this always happening to me? What, have I got 'needs some' tattooed on my forehead?

I should just excuse myself and walk away, but the mead must be  really getting to me because I find myself meekly following him out through one of the five hundred doors of Valhalla and... Woah! Slam into the frigid air outside. That mead packs a mean punch. I have to concentrate on my two left feet all the way to his own hall, so I never notice the path. I hope I can find my own way back afterwards.

I don't know what I expected: black stone, weapons everywhere. But it's nothing like that. It's actually kind of welcoming. The posts holding the log roof are carved and painted in bright colors. The walls are covered with huge tapestries depicting - what else - battles against the frost giants. And there are bear skins everywhere. I guess he hunts them for sport. I didn't know there were so many bears in the world. Some of the skins are white. I've never seen a white bear. It makes sense though, with all the snow. I wonder if the wolves have white fur too? Why am I even thinking about this?

He stands by the fire pit, looking as uncomfortable as I feel. I'm just happy to sit on the first available surface, which happens to be the bed. Damn. I'm not moving though, not until the world stops swaying. I look quickly around but I don't see any one else. No frost giants. That's a relief.

"Hercules..." He grounds to a halt. Did Baldur put him up to this? Maybe it's standard Norse hospitality. Whatever, I'm not helping him out, so I wait, silent and uncooperative.

"You are Greek."

"Yes." He really is fond of stating the obvious.

"You have different customs."

"Yes." You bet, and offering frost giants for the night isn't one of them.

"In your country, it is common for men to..." He clears his throat and looks embarrassed. Does he think this is one of our customs? Think again. I'm still not going to help out.

"Your family, they marry their own siblings, ja?"

Huh? Now he's got me confused. "Yes, they do," I answer cautiously.

"And your father..."

"My father, Zeus..." I prompt. What in Tartarus is he trying to tell me?

"Your father has many lovers."

"So does Odin." Not that I'm defending Zeus here, but Thor's own father isn't exactly a model for marital fidelity.

"Ja, that is so. But Odin does not have..."

"Does not have what?"

"He does not take men to his bed."

Oh. Damn. He's not going to offer me his mistress. He's going to offer me a man. A male frost giant maybe? Great, just great.

"Are you asking me--"

"I ask if you will accept me in your bed," he gets out in a rush, and then glares at me.

"Huh?" Did he just...?

"I would bed with you tonight."

Yeah, he did. Shit.

"What...why...?" Now I'm the one who can't finish a sentence. "Not that I'm not um, honored, but why are you offering?"

Did I somehow give him the idea that I fancied him? Impossible. We were at each other's throats practically from the moment we met. Or is that considered foreplay here?

He looks uncomfortable again. Does he fancy me? No, he's nuts about his brother, for Zeus' sake.

"I want you to show me how it is with men."

Oo-kay, I think I'm beginning to get some idea of what's going on here. "You want me to show you how to make love to a man."

I didn't think he was the blushing type, but he's looking red as a beet, and it's not due to the mead.

He nods vigorously. "Ja, I want to know what to do when..." He runs out of words again.

When he nails Baldur. Looks like that close brush with death has got Thor thinking; not something he does too often, I bet.

"What makes you think I'd know?" Maybe he thinks all Greek men do it. Great reputation we have abroad.

"You said you loved your friend."

"Ah, yes. That." He's not the first to make that assumption. Half of Greece thinks we were lovers. We weren't, not for a long time.

"I take it that sex with other men is not common here?"

"It is not unknown, but...we do not speak of it," he growls, looking even more belligerent than usual, which means he must be feeling really uncomfortable. Make that two of us. But the stubborn gleam in his eye tells me he's determined to go through with this.

My initial reaction is to say thanks, but no thanks. But... But I spent the voyage to Ireland wondering if Iolaus might not have died if we'd still been lovers. Would he have given his life for Nebula if he'd been spending the nights in my bed instead of hers? In my heart of hearts I know he would have acted the same, but still. The doubt remains.

Thor's thinking is crystal clear to me: he's afraid for his brother, terrified of losing him, and determined to grab some happiness before the dreaded day, or Ragnarok, arrives, maybe even hoping he can change things somehow, in spite of his fatalism.

I'm not going to say no to him. Before Sumeria, my answer would have been very different, but that was then. I'm not the same person any more.

"Are you sure about this, Thor? Do you know what it involves?"

He nods. "Ja, I am sure. I know what I need to know how."

I look at him. He's not bad looking, even with that perpetual scowl of his. I've had worse offers, and for worse reasons. The thing is, can I do this? I grew to like it, but it wasn't something I chose. It wasn't anything I wanted.

It was Iolaus who started it, because he was afraid of losing me. And I agreed, because I didn't want to lose him. It was hard at first, though it got better with time, and I can't deny that it was good in the end. But the first time he got interested in a girl, I was so understanding! 'It's great, Iolaus, go ahead. No, of course I don't mind. It won't make any difference; we're friends, best friends, and nothing can change that.'

I virtually pushed him into bed with any girl who was half willing or any he looked at twice. I was practically pimping for him. And he thought I was so selfless, so generous. I was just fucking relieved that I could ease him out of my bed without hurting his feelings. Gods, I was such a hypocrite.

"Come, sit by me." I pat the bed and smile. Let's see if he's really serious about this, and if I can actually go through with it.

Thor freezes on the spot. He can't do it. Good. But then he shakes himself and stomps towards me, his expression so fierce that I brace myself for a punch.

He glares at the space next to me, as if the bearskins covering the bed are still being worn by their owners, then he sits with folded arms and glares at me instead.

I can't help it. I get this crazy urge to laugh; this is all so ridiculous. But then he'll definitely punch me. So I tramp down on my laughter, and instead lean towards him, aiming for his mouth, except he keeps retreating. We'll fall off the bed if he keeps going. In the end, I just grab him by the back of his neck and clamp my mouth over his.

He stiffens like a dog just before a fight, and I brace myself again. But all he does is breathe noisily through his nose, then he forces himself to relax.

Okay, we've got this far. Let's see how he reacts to real kissing.

I'm not one for boasting, but I'm considered a good kisser. At least, I've never had any complaints, and my lovers always come back for more, so I'm confident he won't find it too unpleasant.

He's pretty passive at first, not fighting it, but not doing much either. Then he suddenly comes alive, grasps my head with both hands, crushes my face to his own, and begins to consume me.

Gods, he's so strong. He's plundering my mouth with his lips and tongue, one hand pushing hard against the back of my neck, crushing my face to his. I find myself  getting lost in the warmth, the wetness, the way his body is thrusting into mine.

He's making these little growling noises against my mouth that are driving me mad. I push against him, driving him down until I'm half on top of him, and I dive into the kiss, crushing his mouth and making him groan some more. I'm hard as steel by now, and so is he. I don't ever remember getting so hard, so fast. This feels so good, feels so great, that I don't want to stop, I don't want to ever stop.

But I'm not a god, and eventually I have to wrench my face away. "I need to breathe..." I gasp between big gulps of air.

"No, you do not," he gasps in turn, eyes closed, and presses his face against my neck. Our bodies are still moving, grinding against each other; there's an iron hand clamped around my buttocks, another fumbling with my top, fingers pinching at my nipples.

"Let's get these off," I pant, wanting the feel of bare flesh beneath my hands. I roll off, struggling with my boots and trousers, and Thor jumps up eager to comply. But I barely have my shirt tugged up under my armpits before he's pressing his face to mine again, invading every part of my mouth, his hands grasping and pinching every bit of exposed skin on my chest. I shove him off and try to catch my breath again.

"Clothes first," I insist, and he growls in frustration, eyes glittering with fire, but he strips off, flinging boots and clothing to the floor, never taking his eyes off me as I do the same.

I lie back on the bed, and he stands before me like a wrestler, arms slightly out, hands open, chin down.

"Come here..." is all I manage to get out before he moves. Damn, but he's fast. He sprints on to the bed and looms over me on all fours, naked and aroused, staring at me like a starving wolf.

His eyes are glowing. "Tell me what to do," he growls in a voice that sends shivers up my spine. Gods.

I reach for him, and he's all over me, once again kissing me, if attempting to climb inside my body can be defined as a kiss. He suddenly clamps a vise-like hand on my cock and starts jerking me off at a hard, punishing speed that has me rushing towards a galloping finish in moments.

It's too fast, too fast. He's nearly as big as me, and just as strong, heavy as a block of granite pressing me down into the mattress, so it's a struggle to shake him off.

Twisting under his crushing weight, I eventually manage to remove his hand and bring our groins together. Our cocks clash and rub, and I cant' help it, I arch upwards in response, groaning with pleasure. He jerks like he's been hit by lightning, sinking his teeth into the juncture between my neck and shoulder.

I spread my legs, allowing him to nestle between them, and we press and thrust, putting all our strength behind it. The bed is shaking with  the terrible force, the headboard banging loudly against the wall; I think the whole damn building is shaking. He's sucking at my throat, leaving a trail of wetness that cools my skin as the heat between us builds up, reaching towards a bone-melting explosion.

It's coming, coming, I can feel it, and I grab his face and take his mouth in a searing, breathless kiss. Suddenly Thor stiffens and roars into my mouth as pleasure slams into his body. A flash of lightning tingles, burns, pours over me and I come, hard and fierce.

That was...that was fucking incredible.

I can't remember the last time I blacked out from sex. Never. But I come close to it now. Granted, it's been awhile since I've actually engaged in anything beyond a little one-handed relief, but I don't remember coming so hard before. I don't remember enjoying it so much with anyone, much less a man. A god.

Is that why? He's a god, and as strong as me. I don't have to be careful, I don't have to pull back, or control myself. I put every bit of strength I had into it, and so did he. And it was fucking incredible.

"That was good," Thor murmurs blurrily into my skin. He's still sprawled over me, head resting in the crook of my neck. The weight of his body pressing down on me should feel oppressive. Instead, it's kind of comforting. It feels...nice.

He's...he's licking me.

"You taste good," Thor mumbles between licks and nips.

"So do you," I manage to reply. It's true; he tastes like hot snow and sweet ice.

He pulls back a bit then; he's flushed, still breathing hard. His lips are red from the abuse they've taken, and given.

"What comes next?"

I feel his cock already hardening against mine. Gods have a short recovery time. So do demigods. He's looking eager, ready, and willing for more. Too ready. If I let him take me, he'll fuck me raw.

"Now comes the real lesson."

He frowns at me for a moment, then he gets it. I feel him stiffen, a quiver of apprehension rippling over his skin. Then he nods stiffly and relaxes.

"What do you want me to do?"

With Iolaus, I was always underneath, afraid to crush him, usually taking it from him because he was smaller, mortal, breakable. I've always been afraid of getting carried away and doing irreparable damage.

Not a concern here.

I feel - I don't know - liberated, unfettered by my usual inhibitions. I can fuck Thor and not worry that I'll crack his ribs or snap his neck if I let myself go. This feels amazing.

I push him off me. "Lie back," I order him. He's uncertain, but obeys me. I like that.

Okay, he's a god, but this is supposed to be enjoyable and, let's not forget, instructive, so some rules have to be followed.

"Have you got some grease, oil, something slippery?"

He looks puzzled.

"We need something to make it easier for..." I hate this. I've never liked talking about sex, and explaining how men fuck each other to a clueless god is...ugh.

"Look, we are not made like women." Duh. "We need some extra lubrication, because it's kind of tight in there, so penetration can be..." Shit, I can't do this.

Fortunately he gets what I'm trying to say, because his eyes widen with comprehension.

" Ja, I understand. It is not a problem that..." He stops and flushes darkly.

Gods, we are a pair. "So, have you got something we can use?"

He does the godly thing and a jar of some greasy looking glop appears beside us on the bed. Good. Except...

"What in Tartarus is that?" The stuff stinks like a bucket of rotten fish.

"It is cod-liver oil," he tells me solemnly.

"Cod-liver oil?" Gods, did I say clueless? He's a fucking idiot. "You want us to reek of that?"

"It is good for you. We use it for many things." He's looking annoyed now, as if I've insulted his honor or something.

"Yeah, well, we're not using it for this. Haven't you got something that smells less...fishy?"

He frowns in concentration. Gods, I'm glad Are...he isn't here. He'd be roaring so hard with laughter he'd bring the roof down.

"Freyja has some stuff she uses on her skin." His face wrinkles in disgust. "It smells of flowers."

"That will do." Given the choice, I'll be happy to smell like a whole garden. Cod-liver oil? Sheesh.

Grumbling under his breath, he replaces the stinking jar with another. This glop is light green, and he's right: it is kind of flowery, like something 'Dite or Cupid would use. I can live with it.

I turn to him, thinking the mood might have got ruined, but I needn't have worried. Thor's a single-minded kind of god. He's obviously raring to go, eyeing me with a half-hungry, half-apprehensive look.

I get astride him, settling on his hips. He can take my weight. Then I lean down and kiss his throat, his neck. He tilts his head, and I lick along the curve of his neck and nip his ear. He starts making those growling noises again. They remind me of something, someone. I don't know; they just make me crazy.

I search for his mouth and delve in, exploring the slick, potent sweetness of the open lips. Things hot up quickly, and I realize that I'm utterly aroused, tingling with anticipation, wanting more.

I'm bewildered and a little dismayed by the speed and intensity of my reactions. One deep, hungry kiss and I'm trembling with  desire, with a sudden, absolute  need I've never experienced before. I don't understand what's happening here; this shattering intensity... it scares me. No way am I stopping, though. I'm not sure I can.

"Roll over, Thor." I barely recognize my own voice, but the deep, urgent tone shivers through the hot body underneath me, and Thor shifts quickly in my arms.

I sit up and enjoy the opportunity to stroke softly over bare, smooth skin. Thor is heavily muscled, solid as an oak tree, yet velvety and warm, and every place I touch fits sweetly to my hand, just so. My hands drift down to the yielding curve of his ass. It's not the cushioned roundness I'm more used to, but my body seems to like it nonetheless, because my cock is now painfully hard and I'm panting softly. I thrust gently into the crevice between rounded muscles. Yesss.

I try to slow down, so I kiss and caress him until I can't stand the monstrous pressure burning in my blood, my cock.

"Tell me you want this, Thor." I can hear the need in my voice.

"Ja," he manages breathlessly, "I want this." His face looks hot, and he presses his face against his forearm, hiding his expression.

"Spread your legs."

He does. I can feel his pulse racing out of control, hammering against my fingertips.

"Wider, Thor." How could something like this be so arousing?

"Come on, open up..." I'm burning up here just by watching him spread himself open for me. Gods, gods.

I trace a light, teasing finger from the back of his neck down his spine, slipping finally into the cleft between his buttocks. He draws in a sharp breath as his body tenses.

I'm stunned by the breathtaking rush of having his body in my power, so centered on me that he's barely able to think. I've never felt anything like this before, and...I like it. I want it.

I tug gently on his hair. "Give me your mouth."

He turns his face, forcing himself not to resist, and I take his mouth in a rough kiss while I slide a slippery finger inside him. He's about to buck me off, but just then I find the spot, and he jerks violently, his shout muffled in the kiss, lost between our meshed tongues.

He pushes backwards into my fingers growling for more, so I stroke that spot over and over, and he's soon whimpering, limp everywhere except for his cock, utterly malleable, submitting to the invasion of his body, unaware of his own cries, alive only to what I'm doing to him. My legs, my arms, my cock are all iron. If I don't fuck him soon, I'm going to explode.

I guide the tip of my erection right where it wants to go, and push in.

I find I can actually maintain a surprising amount of control as long as I concentrate on the moans and growls Thor is making. The pain also helps; his ass is gripping me like a clamp of flesh, and every tiny thrust burns, like stroking into a satin furnace. I push in deeper, deeper, unable to stop the insistent lunges of my hips.

"Oh Gods, feel... you...feel... aaahh..." I hiss with pleasure.

I'm inside, deep inside that hot, tight velvet place; it's slippery, wet, with a rolling kind of friction that send shocks of almost painful delight through me. One more push, and I slide home with a grunt, and there's something about being buried all the way in Thor's ass that makes me feel invincible, powerful, and fucking hot!

I pull back and then thrust all the way in. Thor's eyes go wide, and he makes an inarticulate, deep sound of astonishment.

"Do that again."

No problem. I take him fast, fisting his big cock at the same speed as I'm fucking his ass, and he soon lunges back brutally and comes with a deafening shout, writhing under me like a man possessed by demons. I have to bite hard on my lip to stop myself from following him, but somehow I manage it.

While he's still recovering, I rear back onto my knees and take Thor with me, tilting his face towards me, so I can breathe in his panting groans. His skin is on fire, fever-hot, his body a damp, boneless weight. I pull him closer, and a moan escapes me as I slide in even deeper. Thor arches, shuddering to sudden life in my arms.

This time I set a steady pace no matter what kinds of noise or demands Thor comes up with. Eventually he gives in and settles to a steady rock back and forth, surging up and down on my cock with bowed head while I pound away . Every now and then I squeeze his renewed erection, and he presses back hard.

I can't keep this up though; my hips are speeding up, and I'm thrusting  harder, wanting, needing more.

"So good..." Thor grinds out. He stretches his head round and manages to bring his lips to my own, sucking greedily on the stinging, electric taste of pleasure that's coursing through me.

With one arm wrapped tightly around Thor's chest and the other hand on his rock-hard cock, I let my body go, free of the fear that I might hurt somebody if I keep thrusting this hard. I know stopping now would kill me, so I don't.

It feels so good, to fuck someone who can take all of me, someone who's as strong, as invulnerable. The only other times I've experienced anything similar is when fighting with my brother. He can take anything I dish out, and more.

He would take this; I could fuck him all night, and he'd be ready for more. I could sink into him, drive hard into his ass, feel all that strength, all the violence and heat of war stretched around my cock, accepting it, and pushing back to take me in and give more, more more...

My eyes fly open, every hair on my body standing up, as searing, annihilating ecstasy blasts me into orbit. Somewhere, someone is crying out hoarsely, pumping blood and semen in long, endless pulses. There's a thrashing weight pulling me down, shouting my name, hot liquid spurting over my fist. I close my eyes and know no more.

The first concrete thing I notice is that I'm in bed, and not alone. The second is a pair of ice-green eyes watching me with a speculative gleam in their depths. Then everything begins to come back. Shit.

Thor doesn't look furious, and I don't see the hammer around, so I guess it wasn't that bad. Maybe he actually liked it.

"You are a good teacher." He sounds almost mellow.

Okay, he liked it. I allow myself to relax, feeling pretty mellow myself for the first time in I don't know how long. Even the pain lodged in my heart feels less keen.

"Who is this Ares?"

What? Why in Tartarus did he have to mention that name? Can't I be free of him even here?

"Why do you want to know?" I ask suspiciously. Is this some convoluted plot of my brother's to get me into trouble?

"Because you shouted out his name when you came."

I'm struck dumb with shock. I did? I shouted out his name?

"I thought your friend was called Iolaus."

"He is...was," I answer numbly.

"Yet it is this other man you think of when making love. Is he another of your lovers?" He's looking curious, interested.

I want to die on the spot.

"No, he's not." Ares, my lover? Yeah, right.

"Maybe you want him to be?"

'No! No, I..." I don't. I don't. Do I? Suddenly I remember my thoughts when I was fucking Thor. I remember wondering how it would be with Ares, how he would feel under me, around me, and then I came like a tidal wave. Just thinking about it now is making my cock twitch.

Shit. I don't want to know about this, I don't want to uncover any more hidden desires. Ever since I've come here everything I believed and thought about myself has been turned upside down. I can't take this. I thought Iolaus' death was the worst that could  happen to me, but this...

"What is wrong? Is this Ares dead  too?" He sounds sorry for me. If he only knew.

"No, he's not dead, he's just..." I lie back, staring with stinging eyes at the rafters. "I don't want to talk about it." Or think about it, or remember. In fact, I want to get some more of the Norns' magic paint and wipe out the last few hours.

"You are tired. It has been a long day." He has no idea how long, or how far I've traveled.

I feel him stiffen beside me and growl, "I am needed elsewhere." In an instant he's standing by the bed, dressed, clutching his beloved Mjollnir.

He looks down at me. "Sleep here tonight. You are my guest." He sees something in my eyes that thaws his usual frown for a moment. "Do not worry, all is well." Then he bangs his damn hammer and disappears in a flash.

A thoughtful, sympathetic Thor. Who would have thought it? This god definitely has potential.

I close my eyes, but there's no way I can sleep, not after what just happened. I thought I was messed up when I arrived here, but I'm beyond messed. I'm so lost I don't think I'll ever find my way back to my old self. No, that Hercules is gone, as dead as his good friend, Iolaus.

And what am I going to do with all these wonderful new insights about myself? I thought I made my own fate, but do I? I thought I didn't really like sex with men, but tonight was a real eye-opener. As for Ares. I won't even go there.

I try to empty my mind, find the detached state I reached in that lake in Eire, but my thoughts follow me, and images of him mock me through the rest of the long, northern night.

It's morning now, the beginning of the rest of my life. My long, everlasting life. I've decided to go back to Eire. Morrigan still needs me; and he's not there.

Maybe, maybe I'll stay in Eire for good. Why go back to Greece? There's nothing but trouble waiting for me there. And it's not as if I have anyone left, now that Iolaus is gone. I doubt my family will miss me. And I won't have to face... I won't have to deal with the other problems.

Yes, that's what I'll do. All that talk about fate and destiny was just that, talk. I don't have to go back to Greece if I don't want to, and nothing and no one can make me. My decision entirely.

I make my own fate.

The End