A feather to fly with
Eyes closing in pleasure, he slid into the pool. The cool water smoothed over his body, drawing him in and slowly cleansing the day's sweat and strain from his tired flesh. Opening himself to the water, Iphicles let his need pull him under, away from the heat and demands of the day, and into a world where he was no longer the king but only Iphicles.
His aching lungs finally drove him to the surface again. It wasn't long enough; it was never long enough. He'd heard tales of the Nereids and wondered what would happen if he were to kiss one, if he would then be able to stay under the water forever, where nobody could find him. Yet even beneath the sea, in the court of Poseidon there would be courtiers and councillors and petitioners and rules.
Iphicles' lips twisted in a half-smile as he pushed water-logged hair out of his face. It was pretty damn stupid to feel sorry for himself; after all, he was the king, and if he wanted to get away from the court and all it entailed, he had the power to make it happen. Like today. It had taken the advisers and guards and the rest of them some time to adjust to, but he had always insisted on his own private space and time. That had been down to Rena's influence; she'd known that if she hadn't insisted that they have time together, away from the court, she'd never see him. And now that her loss no longer threatened to kill but only to cripple him, he'd taken up the habit again. His courtiers were no doubt taking the opportunity to plot and plan, and if they had only known what he was doing right now, they would be questioning their ruler's sanity even more openly. Not only had he left the palace grounds without taking any guards, but he was bathing in a common pool rather than the luxurious bathing room of the palace. And gods, it was good. Freedom.
But even freedom got chilly after a while and Iphicles levered himself out of the pool and lay down on the deliciously sun-warmed grass to dry off in the sun. Heat soaked into him, relaxing him until he sighed with contentment and felt his eyes close. It wasn't long before he turned over onto his back, and his hand slipped down to his cock. He stroked himself idly, and felt the slow response beneath his hand. Should today be Hercules taking him without mercy, no longer able to hide his need and his love for his brother? He wasn't sure that he had the energy for that after the day he'd had so far and his hand continued to move very slowly, not trying to do himself yet, just thinking about it.
The problem with Hercules was that, even in Iphicles' fantasy, he had this annoying habit of stopping doing, and starting talking. And what he said was never anything that Iphicles wanted to hear, let alone when his hand was pumping his cock. So maybe today would be a slower but more intense one, another of his favourites and one that he only used when there was time. It was based on his recollections of the time he and Rena had visited Cupid's temple. She'd made offerings to the God of Love for as long as Iphicles had known her, swearing that Cupid had brought him to her. The only time they had gone there together had been on the first anniversary of their wedding day. She hadn't lived long enough for there to be a second anniversary. Iphicles had accompanied her on that day, for her sake not mentioning his belief that the gods never did anything for mortals without a reason.
They'd stood together in the temple after making their offering, jostled by people crowding around them; without the guards, they saw their king and queen as nothing more than another couple in love. He'd stood behind her, arms around her to protect her from the crowd, and had held her close. Closing his eyes, now, Iphicles could still remember the scent that was so distinctively hers. His hand stilled on his cock as he remembered how she'd felt against him, the warmth and softness and the longing to be close to him. He knew that it had embarrassed some of the courtiers, the way that he and Rena had touched so much, but he'd needed to know that she was still there, that this wasn't some sort of dream born of loneliness. And she'd wanted to touch him because she'd loved him. Even now, he found that difficult to believe.
And then *he* had appeared, and Iphicles had felt as though his world would never be the same again. He was perfection, with skin gleaming beneath the candlelight's golden caress, a face more beautiful than any imaginings, and white wings that unfurled behind him till they seemed to shimmer in the low light. Cupid had stood there, his muscled arms folded across his chest, and accepted the worship as his due. Iphicles had realised there, for the first time, that this was where Hercules got it from, his supreme self-confidence and the absolute knowledge that he was right; it came from the Olympian side of his heritage, where they never doubted themselves, let alone their superiority to mere mortals.
He had been vaguely aware of Rena's low gasp as Cupid's gaze met first hers and then his, but he had no longer been able to feel her in his arms. His whole being had been offered to the god who stood before his altar, and he would not have changed that fact even had he been able to. Cupid was not just the God of Love - he *was* love. And Iphicles had loved him.
He had also wanted him with an intensity that he had never felt before. As Cupid's' gaze released his, he'd realised that he was pressed up even closer behind Rena than before. Her breathing had grown quicker and she'd pushed back against him. No longer able to watch the god, to bear the delight, he'd briefly rested his face against her neck. She'd taken the opportunity to press back further against his hardness, murmuring "Is that my anniversary present?"
And then before he'd said a word, he'd become aware of *that* gaze on him again, and had looked up to meet Cupid's eyes. As he'd done so he'd remembered how much he loved Rena and he'd been the one to glance away first. His lips had moved against her neck. "Why don't we go home so you can find out?" His voice had been husky, but she hadn't seemed to mind.
They'd turned and left, weaving their way through those who were still desperate for a glimpse of the god, or for the god to look at them. Pausing for a moment outside the temple, Rena had pulled away from him, bending to pick something up from the ground. She'd turned to show him the snowy-white feather, her delighted smile lighting her face. "He knows," she'd said. "He knows it's our anniversary."
And seeing the joy and love in her eyes, Iphicles had stopped himself from telling her that it must be merely a feather from one of the temple doves, and instead had taken her in his arms.
Iphicles stretched slightly in the sunlight. His hand was loosely cupped around himself, but no longer intending to arouse. Usually he did not remember the visit; he had honed to a fine art the practice of imagining going to Cupid's temple on his own and finding that there was nobody else there when the god appeared. The royal sheets bore witness to just how much and how often that concept pleased him. Today, though, he didn't fight the memories. For once, they brought no pain. He lay in the sunshine, drifting.
Jerking awake, he sat up, quickly looking to see what had woken him. And then he realised that he must still be asleep, because otherwise he wouldn't be looking at Cupid. He wouldn't be staring at the god with his mouth open and a warmth stirring in his groin, and he certainly wouldn't be thinking that Cupid was even more beautiful than his memory of him. Cupid was most certainly not standing there, strong arms crossed across his tanned chest, dressed only in a black leather skirt which forced any observer to follow the smooth lines of his thighs up to where they disappeared beneath it and wonder just what else the god wore. No, that was not happening.
But then, did apparitions generally speak? He remembered to close his mouth, before he realised he'd need to open it again if he was going to say anything. And you didn't just sit there and ignore a god, not if you wanted to survive or even just maintain your dignity, not that there was much chance of that, sitting there naked as he was with his cock half-hard, and Cupid was still standing there and he could feel the warmth of the sunlight on his back and the smoothness of new grass beneath his legs, and that meant that he *must* be awake.
"Cupid," he croaked finally. Then he realised that he seemed to have forgotten to close his mouth again and did so firmly, waiting to see what would happen next.
"You've got something of mine."
"I have?" He was swallowing, trying to get rid of the dryness in his throat that had made his voice behave in a distinctly unregal fashion.
"I mean, what?" Slightly better. At least his voice sounded like his again.
By way of answer, Cupid moved a step closer, and Iphicles' mouth dried again as the god's wings slowly extended until they were stretched out on either side of his body. They blazed in the sun with a whiteness so pure that it hurt to look upon, but it hurt more not to look. Iphicles stared as though hypnotised, and it was only when Cupid unfolded his arms and rustled his left wing slightly that Iphicles remembered that this had a point other than pure worship. Though that was good, too. Moistening his lips, he followed Cupid's gaze along his left wing, and then saw it. The slight break in the elegant pattern of beauty, signifying where a feather had once been and was no longer.
He knew that he should be worried. He knew that he was probably going to be blasted off the face of the earth for taking something belonging to a god, but all Iphicles felt was loss. The feather was one of the few things to survive Rena's death. However many times he had picked it up, intending to destroy it, to make it as ugly and broken as his life was now, there'd always been something that had stopped him from doing so. When the fury had burned out, leaving him empty, he had always found a strange sort of comfort in holding it as he finally slept; it had become the hopeless token of a time when he had been truly happy.
"I'll get it." The words didn't make it past the tightness in his throat the first time, so he had to say it again. It wasn't any easier the second time around.
"Did I ask for it back?"
Before Iphicles could respond, Cupid was moving forward and kneeling down beside him. He froze as Cupid's hand stroked down the side of his face. The long fingers left a trail of warmth and something else, something that reminded him of summer afternoons when he was young, before Hercules, when the world was his. One finger moved gently across his lower lip and he opened his mouth obediently, his eyes closing as the finger slid between his parted lips. He sucked gently, tasting skin honeyed by warm sweat, and something more. The finger was eventually withdrawn, and he dared to open his eyes, knowing that this time he would wake up.
Or maybe not. Cupid moved swiftly to straddle his hips, his eyes holding Iphicles' for an instant that felt like a lifetime as Cupid saw all the way into him, everything that he was, everything that he wanted. And yet he didn't leave him. He bent his head instead and tasted Iphicles' mouth. The heady sweetness of his tongue flowed along Iphicles' veins until he could no longer remember what the world was like without Cupid. It was as he'd felt the very first time he'd looked into Cupid's face at the temple that day.
"You were with Rena then. It wasn't our time." Cupid's voice was uneven as his tongue slipped inside Iphicles' ear.
Part of Iphicles - a very demanding and swollen part - wanted nothing more than to melt against Cupid and do as the god wanted. There was another part of him, however, that needed to understand why the god was here, and what he wanted with him.
"Our time?" His voice could have given Cupid's lessons in unevenness as Cupid's lips moved down his neck and Cupid's weight shifted against him, persuading him to lie down again.
"See, Iphicles," Cupid's words were muffled as his mouth moved over warm skin, "Being God of Love means I can't just have who I want, not if they're in love with someone else. All I can do," he was interrupted for an instant by Iphicles' distinctly un-kinglike gasp as his warm tongue swiped over Iphicles' nipple, "is make sure that when I *do* get to be with them….."
Cupid's voice faded as he licked and sucked, and then his teeth scraped gently. Iphicles bucked upwards beneath his attentions, and Cupid moved to the other nipple, one hand playing with the slippery point of flesh his mouth had relinquished.
"Huh?" The hand in his hair tugged Cupid's head up. His eyes were unfocussed as he stared up at Iphicles' perplexed frown, then they cleared slightly. "I don't let them go," he finished, and returned to his self-appointed task.
Iphicles groaned and let his head fall back against the earth. It was too improbable, impossible, to be true, but it'd been too damned long since he'd been laid. He *needed* this. His head raised again to see Cupid move across to pay attention again to the first nipple, his pink tongue darting out before scraping roughly across the sensitive flesh in an oddly cat-like way. And then Cupid was everywhere, sniffing and licking and sucking, stroking his stubble-roughened cheeks against Iphicles' damp skin, for all the world as though he were marking him. So if Cupid was the cat, Iphicles thought frantically as Cupid's mouth buried beneath his arm, why was he the one who felt as though he was purring?
It was not long after that point that Iphicles realised that if Cupid was a cat, he was most definitely a mouse. A defenceless and helpless mouse, who wanted nothing more than to be played with by the cat, beyond caring what the end of the game might be. It started when Cupid held up a feather before Iphicles' eyes, and proceeded to trail it lightly down his nose. Then across his lips. And down either side of his neck. Then to the sensitised nipples, across them and around them, until Iphicles was squirming. It was a distinctly unkinglike activity, squirming, but there was no other word for it as his legs tried to open beneath Cupid and he began to plead for it to stop. But as soon as the words left him, he knew he'd made a mistake. Cupid stopped, only for the feather to move lower as Cupid moved backwards to allow himself fuller access to Iphicles' body. The maddening touch trailed lightly down his stomach, again and again, pausing to dip into his navel, but all the time ignoring the heavy swollen flesh that wept for attention. Cupid moved so that he was between Iphicles' legs, and the feather crept up the soft inside of each thigh in turn, stopping just before it got anywhere interesting. Iphicles' feet were planted on the earth as he raised his hips, begging for more. And finally, finally, Cupid relented and the wisp of a touch across his balls had Iphicles crying out in tortured delight.
The feather circled, tickled, and he opened his legs as wide as he could, thrusting his hips up as far as he could, and begged, his voice broken on Cupid's name. Cupid eventually took pity on him and the feather drew the very lightest of patterns up his cock, then down again, tracing an unseen design reflecting Cupid's desires. He was hurting by this time, needed to be touched, to be fucked, just to come. And then Cupid bent his head to the tip of his cock and, holding his eyes all the time, carefully licked away the gleaming string that had leaked from it. Still holding Iphicles' eyes, he moved up and bestowed it on one nipple, before moving to the other. Iphicles' hands in his hair pulled his head up and his tongue plunged into Cupid's mouth, just as his hips thrust up until his cock was rubbing against the smooth skin beneath the leather skirt. Cupid's groan into his mouth was nearly enough for him to come, and apparently the god felt that because he pulled back and off Iphicles.
The words were scarcely out of his mouth before Iphicles was on his hands and knees, offering himself in desperate supplication. He realised then the cruelty of the deity he worshipped as the feather began its unending patterns on his back, down the line of his spine, along his ribs, until finally it moved in ever-decreasing circles over the cheeks of his ass, before the maddening tickle drew down the cleft and he cried out as it stroked against him. Cupid tortured him for a little longer, and then the feather was gone. It was replaced by the feel of Cupid's hands holding him open, the warmth of Cupid's breath against him, and a warm tongue flicking over him. The noise he made must have encouraged Cupid for there was the feeling again of stubbled cheeks rough against his skin, and a moistness thrusting inside him.
He was gasping with a need beyond words by the time Cupid moved and Iphicles could feel a smooth bulk pressing against his ass. Cupid slid inside him, sheathing himself tight within Iphicles' trembling body. Iphicles cried out and pushed back, desperate, and Cupid began to move. Slowly at first, his hands firm on Iphicles' hips to begin with, controlling the king as he set a rhythm that had Iphicles sobbing for more. His pace increased as Iphicles' cries grew louder, and he began to thrust faster into Iphicles, his cock hitting a spot that had Iphicles cursing and swearing between sobs. And when Iphicles could bear it no more, Cupid's hands left his hips, and he felt a feather-light touch on his cock. He howled and thrust against it, before pushing back onto Cupid's cock, and then thrusting again, and the light touch tightened, stroking him as he rocked wildly towards completion. He was groaning constantly now, every nerve-ending ablaze so that it almost hurt, and then Cupid leaned forward, his chest warm and slick against Iphicles' sweating back, and whispered his name, while hands scratched down his chest across his nipples and he came in a blinding storm of need, his own and Cupid's, and he couldn't tell which of them it was that filled the place inside him that had been empty so long.
His eyes were closing even as Cupid was pulling out of him, and he tried desperately to stay awake. Not only had Rena always complained about his bad habit of falling asleep immediately afterwards, but he wanted to talk to Cupid. More, he wanted to hold Cupid and be held by him and try to believe that this wasn't all some sort of dream brought on by his loneliness or too much lamb for lunch.
It was later - much later - that Iphicles woke. He knew it was later because the sun had moved down towards the horizon, and the chill of evening was on the grass beneath him. He was warm, though, kept so by the soft feathered wing that blanketed him, by the thigh tangled between his, and by the arms that held him close to Cupid. He lay with his head against Cupid's chest, listening to the steady thud of the god's heart, trying to believe. It made no sense that Cupid could want him, yet he knew now that his life would be unbearable without Cupid. So he would give what he could, take what he could, until the truth came out and it was over.
"You see, Iphicles," he heard the sound deep against his ear before the words took shape in the early evening air, "You've got one of my feathers. Means you've got part of me. Means I can't leave and stay whole. You see?"
And he shivered and pretended to be asleep still. It was too much to believe.
When he woke up again later, alone, and got slowly to his feet, the protests from his muscles as he moved made him realise that it hadn't been a vivid dream but that *something* had happened. And when he'd finished dressing himself, moving slowly despite the chill in the air because he was somehow reluctant to leave this place and go back to his life, he turned back one last time to where he'd been sleeping. And there, lying on the new spring grass, lay a single white feather.