O Rose, thou art sick
O Rose, thou art sick,
The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
By William Blake
It was going to be all right. He was sure of it. He hadn't puked since that second time, when-when he'd taken it up the ass. Well, it had been strange, and painful. A guy was entitled to react to that, to all of it really.
It was all so different to how he'd envisaged his future, his friendship, shit, his life. He had never thought that this would happen. Not to him. He knew it wasn't uncommon among the other boys, among men, Sparta even encouraged it in its soldiers. But it hadn't been for him. He had never been interested in his own sex that way. Yeah, he'd been curious, but nothing more. Besides, what he'd seen of it, well, Lysias and his lover Nikos were always at it in some dark corner, hadn't filled him with any desire to have a go. It had looked...sweaty and messy. Not sexy at all, not like with girls.
But now, it was him all right. There was no choice really. It was either this or lose Iolaus, and he couldn't bear that. Anything but that. For then, who would he have, really? He would be all alone, apart from his mother, and that didn't count. Not like with Iolaus.
Anyway, he was getting used to it, and it wasn't so bad really. Iolaus was good, and very patient. He said it was just his upbringing getting in the way; that he, Hercules, had a provincial, prudish attitude towards anything to do with sex. That was why he found it difficult to let go and just enjoy it. Maybe his friend was right, but still... It felt different when he thought about doing things like this with girls; it felt right, and really turned him on. This, he really had to work himself up to it, though it was getting easier with time, he had to admit. Maybe Iolaus was right; maybe he was just a prude.
Thinking back on it, the whole thing had started with that Medea disaster. He had nearly lost his two best friends. But Jason had made peace with him and things were more or less back to normal. It wasn't the same, of course; nothing could ever be the same after your friend betrays you that way, taking your girl away from you. He knew now that was always a possibility with Jason. There was a distance between them that he wasn't sure could ever be bridged again.
But it was the mess he had made of his friendship with Iolaus that had really changed everything. He had been hurt. His admired older friend had betrayed him and now it looked like Iolaus was taking Jason's side. That had hurt more than anything. He had seen red then, everything going down some black hole, and he had lashed out in pain. Yes, that had been the beginning of it all, he could see that now.
They had patched up things somehow, worked together to defeat the monster and walk away, seemingly friends again: Hercules and his two best buddies, back together again. But he remembered that uncertain look in Iolaus' eyes every time they had gazed at him.
It was a look of fear, fear of loss. He knew that now, and he had put that look there. So, it was really his fault that Iolaus had felt it necessary to make certain it wouldn't happen again, ever. And it wouldn't of course, for he needed Iolaus, more perhaps than his friend needed him.
He had seen his friend brooding on some knotty problem, but when he'd asked about it, Iolaus had shrugged and insisted it was nothing really. But it had been something. He had felt his friend distancing himself, emotionally withdrawing, and had panicked. That was why when Iolaus had made his move, he had not put up any real struggle; if this was what Iolaus wanted, if this was what he had to do to save his friendship, then so be it.
It had been late in the evening, just after sunset, and he and Iolaus had been wrestling in the sand pit. No one else would wrestle with him. Why bother? They all knew the bastard son of Zeus could defeat them with one hand tied behind his back. Oh, he had heard them, when they thought he wasn't around, even when they knew he could hear. They resented him. They thought he was a freak, a bastard, some mongrel spawn, neither fish nor fowl. All of them, except for Iolaus.
Iolaus was never intimidated by his freakish strength, or his stamina, or his near invulnerability. He never hesitated to take him on, to tease him about being the great Hercules, strongest man in the world. Jason would sometimes spar with him, but it wasn't the same. Jason did resent it a little, not like the others, perhaps because he was a king and felt secure in his own worth. But he still disliked being bested all the time. Iolaus would just laugh and suggest they went to eat something.
But this time, as he had held Iolaus down and laughingly demanded his surrender, Iolaus had stared into his eyes with a curiously intent look in his own, and raising his golden head, had kissed him hard on the mouth instead, thrusting an insistent tongue past lips quiescent with surprise. He had been so shocked, his grip on the other boy had slackened and he had found himself flat on his back with a fully aroused Iolaus trying to drill his cock into his stomach, while he lay underneath, frozen with indecision.
He could have pushed Iolaus off with ease, but he hadn't. His mind, stilled for a moment by the shock, was trying to process what was happening. His friend had his tongue half-way down his throat; he was rubbing himself all over Hercules with a steel hard cock, while his hands were pumping life into his own semi-erect flesh. Iolaus wanted him, quite desperately it seemed, that way.
He had lain like a sacrificial virgin, which come to think of it, he still had been, and let his friend work his way down his chest, biting sucking, licking. It hadn't really been unpleasant, just...strange. He had jumped with shock when Iolaus had closed his hungry mouth round his cock, but that had been very nice and his cock had hardened immediately. He had never felt anything like that and it had been great. But when he had felt a finger poking into his asshole, he had panicked and tried, as gently as he could, to shove his friend off.
Iolaus had looked up with wild and desperate eyes. "Herc, what's the matter, don't you want me? Don't you love me?"
"'Cos I love you, Iolaus, but-but what you're doing, it's ... I'm not... please, Iolaus," he had pleaded in turn, not knowing how to say, 'I don't want you this way--I don't like this', without hurting his friend.
"If you love me, if you really love me, then, what's the problem? I'm not good enough for you? Is that it? I'm not a king, or handsome enough? Iolaus is okay for the odd wrestling match, or to pass the time when nothing better's on offer, but the gods forbid the great Hercules would deign to touch a lowly ex-thief for anything else. Is that all I'm to you, Herc? Is that all our friendship is?"
"No! No, it's not like that at all, Iolaus. You're my best friend, you're everything. You know I love you. You know no one means half as much as you mean to me. Gods, Iolaus, how could you say that? How could you even think it?" He had been frantic to show his friend how much he meant to him, how important, even essential their friendship was to him.
Iolaus had looked at Hercules with burning eyes, relentless in their pain. "Then show me. Show me that you love me. Prove to me that I'm that important to you."
"Let me be everything to you: Your friend, your companion, your lover. Let's be everything to each other."
He had looked into those familiar and beloved eyes, looking for mercy, and finding none. Only fear and need. "Is that what you want?"
"Yes." The answer had been unequivocal, no room for compromise. And his reply had been inevitable. He could not, would not lose his friend; and this is what it took, this was the price he had to pay.
Iolaus' eyes had shined with relief and triumph. "You won't regret it, Herc. You'll see, it's going to be great, you and me, together for always. I'm going to make you feel so good!" And he had kept his promise, that evening. He had taken Hercules' cock back into his mouth and done things to him that soon had him gasping and moaning. Not even the feel of intrusive fingers into his hole had diminished the fire in his cock. Then, those fingers had rubbed against something inside and he had tumbled into a shattering orgasm, helplessly spilling himself down Iolaus' throat.
It hadn't been too bad while Iolaus had furiously humped his thigh, bringing himself off; he had been too dazed after coming to be conscious of much. But when he felt the warmth from Iolaus' spurting cock, and smelled the unfamiliar scent of someone else's semen on his own skin, he had come back to reality with a jolt.
His instincts had screamed to him to get away, to get it off him as quickly as possible. Thankfully, Iolaus had not seemed to mind his mumbled excuse about a call of nature, and he had blundered in a half daze to the baths.
He thanked the gods that he had met no one on the way to see him throw up into the trench behind the kitchens. After that, he had quietly slunk into the baths and cleaned and scraped his skin until it felt raw and sore. He couldn't seem to get the smell of what had happened off his body.
Of course, it was much worse the following evening. They went for a walk, because there was no way he was going to do anything where the other boys could catch them at it. It was bad enough that they teased him about the way he was growing out in all directions, and the way he would trip over his own feet, unused to the larger body he had to suddenly cope with. They would have had a field day with this.
Iolaus had been good about that. He had agreed it was best if they kept it a secret, not even Jason would know about them, for which Hercules had been secretly and profoundly grateful. He really didn't want to see the expression in Jason's eyes if he knew what was going on between them. He had been eloquent to his older friend on his views on sex with other boys. Jason would not understand. He found it hard to understand himself.
Iolaus had been good about all that, but he had insisted that they had to consummate their new relationship. That had not been pleasant. Hercules had tried to follow his friend's directions: he really had tried to relax. But how could anyone relax when someone was trying to shove a rod of steel up one's asshole? That's how it had felt like to him anyway. Admittedly, it had got better; that spot that had set him off like a stone off a catapult the first time had definitely helped, and Iolaus was good with his hands; he seemed to know just how fast and how hard to fist his cock. But still, it had been a traumatic experience.
He hadn't been able to help it, he had thrown up again. Iolaus had accepted his excuse that the roast lamb he'd had for supper had not been very fresh. But Hercules had still felt horrible about it. He was really trying to like it, to do what his friend wanted. And he wanted to enjoy it, just like Iolaus had done. His friend had looked so happy and sated, he had been so loving and tender, while all Hercules had wanted to do was to jump into the nearby creek and wash all traces of what had happened off his body, as quickly as possible. Throwing up had helped there. At least he had had a genuine excuse for plunging into the water and scrubbing himself surreptitiously with the mud and weeds. But he still felt as if he were letting his friend down in some way.
That night, and for quite a few nights after, he had lain on his bunk, surrounded by the other students and tried not to make any noise. But his body had shaken so much at first that the wooden frame of his cot had creaked and squeaked alarmingly, disturbing the sleep of some of the other boys. It had been embarrassing when Jason had quietly slipped one of his spare blankets over him and asked if he was coming down with a fever, and should he fetch Cheiron.
The following morning, he had gone to the work shop and fashioned a solid wooden frame with some tree-trunks that were laying around to be used in repairing the barn. He hadn't cared that the other boys had teased him about him making a Herculean bed. At least it didn't shake at night when he did.
But it was getting better now; he hadn't thrown up again. He had got used to laying with Iolaus draped over him afterwards, instead of rushing off to get cleaned up, and he didn't get the shakes so much either. Yes, he was getting the hang of it, and soon he would get to like it as much as Iolaus did. He was sure of it. He was determined he would.
He was still having trouble with the smell on his skin afterwards though. He had always been a stickler about washing his body after any physical exercise. His mother had been adamant about his not stinking of sweat like some unwashed peasant. But now, he was beginning to get a reputation for being a cleanliness freak. The thing was, however often he washed, and however hard he scrubbed his skin afterwards, he still couldn't seem to get rid of the smell. It felt as if it were branded on his flesh somehow: Iolaus' lover. Or Iolaus' bitch. That's what some of the other guys called Nikos, because he was always the one who took it.
Of course, it wasn't the same with him. Iolaus let him do it to him, but it was more often the other way round, because he was so much stronger and getting so much bigger, so he was afraid of hurting his friend. The upshot was that he took it up his ass more often than Iolaus did. So, perhaps he was Iolaus' bitch. Not that what he thought made any difference. This was the way things had to be. And he was getting used to it. Soon, he was sure, he would even enjoy sucking his friend's cock, and he would stop gagging on it. He still hated the taste, it was so bitter, but Iolaus didn't seem to mind when he spit it out so maybe that would work out too.
No, it wasn't what he had thought his future would be like, but this was how things had turned out. At least he had kept his friend, now lover he supposed, though he just couldn't bring himself to think of Iolaus in those terms. No, he was his best, closest friend, closer than he had ever thought possible. And he would always be his friend. Whatever happened, Iolaus had made certain of that.