This story is an alternative universe (no pun intended ) version of "Stranger in a Strange World"

I/S(overeign), I/J, H/ that Iolaus is quite a busy lad :-)

Disclaimer: I do not 'own' these characters, MCA/Universal does. No money has exchanged hands for this story.

The Stranger

by Summer Rain

Iolaus backed into the room slowly. He wrapped his arms around himself in the imitation of the hug that he wished Hercules could give him. Ah, Hercules. He had seen Hercules but a short time ago but it seemed like a lifetime had passed.
Speaking of lifetimes, maybe that's what happened. Maybe he had died, who was he kidding? This place was as real as where he had come from. It was just a slightly warped version of it.

He looked up startled for a moment to see Hercules staring back at him. A small smile began to form on his face but then faltered in answer to the predatory smile of the man in front of him. It was then that he remembered. This was not his Hercules. This was the Sovereign, the man who cared for nothing save his own pleasure and greed.

He backed up a step as the Sovereign stepped towards him. The predatory look on the Sovereign's face was unnerving. He couldn't imagine what it was for and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. Whatever it was the Sovereign wanted it would not bode well for him.

The Sovereign smiled at the smaller man's retreating form. He had always admired Iolaus' form but had never acted upon his impulses. The clown act had always deterred him. But now, there was no more of the jester in Iolaus. What he saw instead was a highly desirable man whose eyes were deep pools and whose body called to him to touch it, to possess it.

The Sovereign watched as Iolaus swallowed, the movement of the Adam's apple catching his eye. He wanted to pounce on Iolaus right there and take possession of the throat which was just waiting for him to place his mark on it.

Iolaus took another step back and the Sovereign tracked the movement with his eyes. He took two steps forward and licked his lips in anticipation of tasting the sweet delights of the Hunter's body.

Iolaus shivered suddenly when the Sovereign licked his lips. There was no mistaking the look on the Sovereign's face. Iolaus became aware of the hungry gaze that swept over him. A small part of his mind reflected on the irony that this man with Hercules' face was looking at him the exact same way he wished his Hercules would look at him.

Iolaus looked towards the door trying to gauge the distance should he need to run to it. There was a big problem though, standing between him and the door was the demigod. Iolaus decided the best course of action would be to distract the demigod and then make his escape.

He couldn't leave the castle he knew but if he could just get out of the Sovereign's sight he should be safe.

The Sovereign had stopped and merely watched him. His arms were crossed over his chest, a small smile on his face. He watched as Iolaus' gaze flickered towards the doorway and almost laughed out loud that the jester could even think to evade him.

"What's wrong Iolaus? You seem rather tense" the Sovereign said, smirking as Iolaus jumped at the sound of his voice.

"Nothing, Sovereign. Just, uh..thinking up some routines to entertain the guests at your wedding to Aphrodite" Iolaus said, purposely mentioning the wedding to see if it would distract the Sovereign.

"Ah yes, Aphrodite" the Sovereign said pensively as he let his arms fall to his sides. He took another step closer to Iolaus and then another as Iolaus backed away even further.
"You know she just doesn't do it for me" he said, as if he were thinking aloud. "Not like you do" the Sovereign said smoothly, his voice almost a purr.

Iolaus backed away again and gasped as his back came in contact with the wall behind him.

"W-what about Xena? I thought you two had something going" Iolaus said frantically as the Sovereign reached for him.

"Xena? Who's Xena?" the Sovereign asked laughing as he did so.

Iolaus raised his arms in a futile attempt to push the Sovereign away before he could grab him. He gave a slight grunt of pain as the Sovereign grasped his wrists tightly and twisted his arms behind him.

The Sovereign pulled him forward so that their bodies touched. Iolaus felt a swell of panic as he felt a hardness press against his stomach. There was no mistaking the Sovereign's arousal.

Iolaus began to twist and turn in the Sovereign's arm but he could not get loose from the iron grip that held him. He had never felt Hercules' full strength used against him before and it was with great shock that he realized the amount of strength his Hercules had kept in check.

He gasped as the Sovereign yanked his arms up cruelly and he was forced to stand on his tiptoes to relieve the pressure on his arm.
Iolaus continued to struggle even as the Sovereign knelt slightly so that his face was on level with Iolaus'.

"You know, Aphrodite and Xena are pretty..but are simply beautiful" the Sovereign said, just before he brought his lips crashing down on Iolaus'.

Iolaus continued to struggle against the Sovereign, but he could barely move. The Sovereign had him held so tightly against his own body. The hard body moved against his as he struggled to get away.

His heart clenched as he realized that even though the Sovereign had him trapped he was still not using his full strength against him. He could probably snap Iolaus like a twig if he wanted to, but instead he chose to let Iolaus struggle against him.

He shifted slightly so that he held both of Iolaus wrists in one strong grip, with his other hand he began his exploration of Iolaus' body.

Iolaus went still as a hand swept over his lower back lightly, passing just over but not touching his ass. He was in shock at the gentle touch, so much in contrast to the manhandling. The touch swept forward, gently gliding until it rested on Iolaus' pelvis even as the Sovereign continued to plunder Iolaus' mouth.

The Sovereign relaxed his hold slightly and Iolaus instantly moved back to try to distance himself as much as he could from the body pressed against his.

Iolaus felt relief sweep over him as the Sovereign finally relaxed his claim on his mouth and let him come up for air. Iolaus took deep breaths, trying to draw in the lung full of air that had previously been denied to him.
He succeeded, only to have the air rush out of him again at the feel of the large hand that cupped his groin. His mouth opened in shock and the Sovereign used the opportunity to lay claim to the mouth once again, forcing his tongue inside of Iolaus mouth, bruising Iolaus' lips in his effort to taste the sweetness that was Iolaus.

The Sovereign released Iolaus arms totally but only so that his hands could be free to rip off the top that Iolaus wore. Iolaus slammed into the wall as the Sovereign pressed against him as if trying to meld their bodies into one.

The only sound Iolaus could make was that of a whimper, but even that was lost amid the sound of tearing cloth and the press of the demanding mouth against his. Disclaimer in pt.1

Iolaus pushed against the Sovereign's shoulders as he felt the cool air hit his skin. It was like trying to move a mountain.

The Sovereign did allow himself to be pushed back, but only far enough so that he could look down at the writhing man in his arms.

The Hunter's skin glistened with sweat produced during his struggle with the Sovereign. His hair was in even more of a disarray than usual, the golden locks bouncing as the Hunter tried to jerk back to try and put distance between them.

Iolaus gasped as the same hand which had been ripping his clothing moved up to his neck. He could feel the strength of the man that held him, echoed in the hand that now rested at his throat.

*That's it. He's gonna kill me. I will die here without ever having told Hercules..._my_ Hercules, how much I love him" Iolaus thought to himself sadly.

Iolaus held himself still, closing his eyes as the hand closed around his throat. His eyes snapped back open when instead of the squeeze he expected, he got a light caress at the base of his throat. The Sovereign smiled as his hand moved up, the caress moving from the base of Iolaus' throat to his jaw. The Sovereign rubbed the jaw lightly, loving the feel of the Hunter's skin under his fingers.

Iolaus stared wide eyed at the gentleness of the Sovereign after his earlier wildness. It was as if he had two distinct ways of being. He wasn't sure what was more frightening or what he should be more wary of, the uncontrolled hunger or the gentleness that signaled the calm before a storm.

Iolaus took a deep breath, swallowing nervously. He instantly regretted it as the Sovereign's attention was drawn to his throat. He tried to jerk back again as the gentle smile turned into a leer. The lust filled eyes of the Sovereign met his as the Sovereign moved his hand from Iolaus' jaw to grab a fistful of hair.

Iolaus could only yell out in surprise as the Sovereign yanked his head back and leaned down. He pressed his lips together, thinking the Sovereign meant to claim his mouth again. Instead the Sovereign's head lowered and Iolaus yelled out, more in surprise than actual pain, as he felt the Sovereign bite into the base of his throat.

He gasped and tried to catch his breath as the Sovereign began to lap at the small droplets of blood that formed on his throat. It was impossible. The Sovereign allowed him no rest, for as soon as that bite was clear of blood the Sovereign moved over to the juncture between neck and shoulder.

"What the.."

Iolaus almost cried for joy when he heard Xena's indignant voice. He stumbled back as the Sovereign let go of him abruptly.

"I'm busy Xena" the Sovereign said, threateningly.

"Well you had better get unbusy if you want my help with Zeus" she said, just as threateningly albeit with a sweet smile.

Iolaus stayed for just a moment, long enough to make sure they were distracted so he could make his escape. He gathered his tattered top and turned to run from the room.


Iolaus froze and despite his better judgment turned in the doorway. The Sovereign turned his eyes away from Xena for just a moment to smile at Iolaus.

"This isn't over Iolaus" he said, as he licked his lips and let his hungry gaze rake over the Hunter's body.

Iolaus shivered with the heat of that gaze and ran from the room, praying to whatever gods were listening that he could get out of there and make his way back to Hercules.

The people he passed as he ran didn't even think twice at the sight of the half naked man with the tousled hair and fresh bite marks on him. If there was any curiosity as to what had happened to him, no one dared ask a question. They had learned long ago not to ask questions. Iolaus found this somewhat of a comfort, if no one asked about him he could fade try to blend in and not draw the Sovereign's attention.

He eventually slowed down so as to blend in more effectively with those around him, though there was nothing he could do about the tattered top or the fresh bite marks on his neck.

He saw a group of people gathering things as if they were departing. Perhaps he could blend in with the group and slip away unnoticed.

*And go where, Iolaus?* he asked himself, shaking his head in frustration. It almost didn't matter really. Wherever he went had to be better than this place. He decided to join in with the group.

He got but a few paces with them before a guard yanked him out of the group, he struggled for a moment before he felt the edge of a sword just touching his back. He looked from the corner of his eye to see that there were about five or six guards surrounding him.

"Where do you think you are going, Jester?" the guard asked.

"I was just...uh, getting some props..for a routine I plan to perform at the Sovereign's wedding" Iolaus said, holding his breath, hoping the lie would work. He had to restrain himself from running outright when the guard nodded and let him go.

He began to walk away quickly but calmly so as not to rouse suspicion.

"Oh, hold on a minute"

Iolaus forced himself to stop and turn when the guard called out to him.

"Just remembered something. The Sovereign said I shouldn't let you leave" the guard said as if racking his memory for the Sovereign's instructions. Iolaus backed up warily and the guards stepped forward.

"Why? I'm just going to get some..." Iolaus trailed off a sword was placed at his throat.

"The Sovereign wants you to say. He said he was determined to have you...for dinner that is" the guard hastened to add. He did not fool Iolaus however who could see the smirk on his face to go along with the intentional pause.

"Looks like he got hungry already" the guard said, stepping forward to brush a hand over the bite marks on Iolaus' neck. He smirked again and brought his hand up to brush it over Iolaus bruised mouth, yelling when Iolaus bit his fingers.

"Why you little..." the guard began, fury in his voice, pulling his hand back to strike the Hunter.

"Uh Sir, the Sovereign said he didn't want any marks on the Jester unless he put them there himself" on of the other guards said.

Iolaus didn't know whether to be relieved or frightened at that statement but soon forgot about it as they hauled him forward. He was dragged unceremoniously down the hall, past the very same people he had been running by earlier. As before, no one looked twice. Iolaus considered asking for help but knew it would be futile.

He stumbled as he was yanked forward and didn't get a chance to catch his balance as he was thrown into a cell. He slammed into another person and they both went crashing to the ground.

The next thing Iolaus knew he was being gathered into someone's arms and was being thoroughly kissed. His arms flailed for a moment as he tried to draw a breath and then the person released him suddenly, pulling him into a bear hug before releasing him.

"Oh Iolaus" the other man whispered, as he smiled at him.

Iolaus blinked once, then twice to make sure he wasn't seeng things before opening his mouth to speak.

"Joxer?" Iolaus managed to squeak out.

He simply stared, a thousand questions racing through his mind yet none making it out of his mouth.

Joxer simply smiled and leaned in slowly for another kiss.

Iolaus stiffened as Joxer's lips brushed over his. Joxer's mouth was soft on his. So soft that it did not occur to Iolaus that he should pull back. He was so surprised by the gentleness shown by Iolaus, a sharp contrast to the Sovereign's demands on his body. Joxer gradually deepened, finally pressing his tongue insistently against Iolaus' lips, asking permission to taste.

When Iolaus felt the tongue press against his lips, he let them part slightly before it occurred to him that this was Joxer. He was kissing Joxer! He gasped and pulled back, stopping short when the arms around him did not let go immediately.

"Iolaus? What's wrong?" Joxer asked, looking at him with concern written on his face.

Iolaus simply stared at him and pushed at his chest when Joxer would have leaned in again. Joxer loosed him but still kept a hand on his arm so that he did not jump up.

"Iolaus...Babe" Joxer stopped speaking when Iolaus let out a gasp and jumped up. The movement so quick that he did not have a chance to tighten his grip and keep Iolaus by his side.

Iolaus began to pace back and forth. He looked occasionally at Joxer as he tried to sort everything out in his mind. First, the Sovereign attacks him and now Joxer was kissing him, and what a very good kisser he was, and then he called him Babe. Iolaus let out a slightly hysterical giggle as he thought over events. Hercules had often laughed at the wild tales he would tell, but not even he could make something like this up.

"Iolaus, come on baby, speak to me"

Iolaus jumped as he felt an arm go around his waist. He moved away and turned to face Joxer again.

"Look Joxer, I'm not who you think..."

"What the hell!"

Iolaus was cut off as Joxer shouted and his gaze turned stony. He stepped back, Joxer looked as if he was about ready to kill someone and his gaze was directed straight at Iolaus.

He stiffened as Joxer reached for him, prepared to defend himself should he need to. Instead of Joxer attacking him however, he reached and brushed a hand over Iolaus' neck his gaze softening as he did so.

Iolaus hissed in pain, as Joxer's hand came into contact with where the Sovereign had bitten him. He jerked back from the touch and Joxer's gaze went stony again.

"What happened?" Joxer asked, quietly.

Iolaus stared at him for a moment, before bringing his own hand up to touch his neck. He could feel the dried blood and knew there must be bruising there, he could also tell by the look on Joxer's face that telling him would probably be a mistake.

"I...uh tripped when I was doing a routine" Iolaus said quickly, hoping to defuse the situation, whatever it was. He could tell that apparently Joxer and he were lovers in this world and by the look on Joxer's face he could tell he was not going to let this go.

"He did this didn't he?" Joxer said, his voice going deadly quiet.

The tone caused Iolaus to shiver. There were so many things that were different in this world, where here was one of them. The Joxer of his world wanted to be a great warrior, well he could tell that the Joxer from this world was a great warrior. Iolaus had no doubt that Joxer would kill the Sovereign if he could.

But then Joxer settled and sighed in frustration.

"Iolaus. I know you want to be out there on the front lines, but I swear if anything was to happen to you..." Joxer began, running his hand through his short hair in frustration.

"Don't worry, I can take care of myself" Iolaus said to him. He did not even realize until his hand had clasped Joxer's shoulder, that he had reached out to comfort him.

Joxer smiled and brought his hand up to place it over Iolaus' hand on his shoulder. He frowned when he heard the sharp intake of breath. He moved Iolaus' hand from his shoulder and held it in front of him, pushing up the sleeve of Iolaus' shirt. The Sovereign hadn't torn the shirt too much and until now the sleeves had been sufficient to cover the bruising on his wrists from the Sovereign's strong grip.

Joxer simply stared down at the bruises. He took Iolaus other hand in his and brought his arm up, the sleeve of the shirt moving back slightly to reveal the bruising on this arm as well. He looked into Iolaus' eyes, his sadness tore at Iolaus.

*The Iolaus of this world is extremely lucky to have someone who loves him this much* Iolaus thought to himself.

Iolaus could only hope that the Iolaus of this world understood how lucky he was as Joxer raised his arms and placed gentle kisses on the bruises which encircled his wrists.

"I love you Iolaus" Joxer, said as he tugged gently and brought Iolaus back into the circle of his arms.

Iolaus hugged him back, trying to impart what comfort he could to the other man even as he thought how best to handle the situation.

The Sovereign had to be stopped. There were too many lives, he was bent on destroying. He looked over Joxer's shoulder to the other men who were in the cell with them. They all had haunted looks, as if they had suffered greatly. He shivered at the dead look in the eyes of some of their cell mates, not objecting when Joxer held him tighter.

Hercules stared at the Jester who stood mumbling before him. He sighed, as he watched the man stumble around gracelessly. The Jester was so different from his own Iolaus.

His Iolaus even moved differently from this man. They were similar in features alone.

He shuddered at the thought that he might never see his own Iolaus again before he shoved it down. He couldn't afford to think that way. He knew Iolaus was okay somewhere, waiting to return to him.

He paced back and forth, dragging his fingers through his hair jerkily.

He needed Iolaus. He needed that calming presence by his side. Things just didn't feel right in the world if Iolaus wasn't with him. At no time was it more evident than now when he felt so strangely bereft.

He cursed inwardly. He had to get Iolaus back, he couldn't rest unless the hunter was by his side again where he belonged.

And when he got him back..he would let Iolaus know just exactly how much he had come to mean to the demi-god.

Iolaus sat in the cell amongst the other prisoners. He listened to their tales of what a tyrant the Sovereign was. He was such a different man from Hercules. It amazed him that two people, who were theoretically the same person, could be so different.

Joxer sat by his side, close enough so that their thighs touched. His hand rested on Iolaus' knee. At first Iolaus had been a bit uncomfortable but he had grown used to the warmth against his knee. It was comforting when faced with some of the stories being told by the other prisoners. He hadn't gotten a chance to tell Joxer the whole truth about who he really was, as shortly after Joxer's greeting, the others in the cell wanted to greet him as well, albeit nowhere near the amount of enthusiasm that Joxer showed. It was something Iolaus could be grateful for.

There was a clanging sound and they all turned toward the cell door. Two guards stood just outside the door watching them. Joxer shifted so that he partially blocked Iolaus, when he felt the gaze of the guard's land upon the Hunter.

The guards exchanged glances before one of them turned back around towards Joxer, a smirk on his face.

"Don't worry Joxer. We won't harm your friend. Luckily for him, the Sovereign wants him kept safe. There is no safer place than right here amongst the lot of you," the guard said.

"What do you want?" Joxer snarled at them, still using his body to shield Iolaus from their view.

"We just wanted to check on the Jester. We'll be back in a bit for him, to prepare him. The Sovereign likes his presents well wrapped, it makes the unwrapping that much more fun" the guard finished off with a laugh.

Iolaus couldn't help but flinch at the words and at the tone. There was no doubt as to what the Sovereign intended to do after he "unwrapped" him.

Iolaus grabbed at Joxer as the warrior jumped up, but Joxer was too quick and so evaded him.

"Take me to the Sovereign!" he demanded of the guards.

At first their eyes opened in shock and they stepped forward threateningly. However one of them stopped and then laughed, halting the other one.

"Yes, we will take you to him. This should be great fun," he said. smirking first at Joxer and then at Iolaus who stood behind him, body tense.

"Joxer, what are you doing?" Iolaus hissed, reaching out to grasp his shoulder.

"Don't worry about me," Joxer said. "I'm going to take care of the Sovereign" his eyes shifted to the bruising around Iolaus' wrist. "I don't want him to hurt you or anyone else ever again," he said. He stepped forward to kiss Iolaus quickly before turning to leave the cell with the guards.

"Joxer don't!" Iolaus shouted sprinting forward. By that time it was too late, the cell door was slammed in his face and Joxer was being led away.

*Damnit. The Sovereign will kill you. I'm not your Iolaus, please don't die for my sake* Iolaus thought to himself as he turned away.

The other prisoners stepped forward, worried looks on their faces. A feeling that Iolaus felt tenfold. He joined the group and they sat, holding a silent vigil, waiting for Joxer's safe return.

Joxer walked with the two guards down a silent hallway. Those they passed looked at him briefly before quickly averting their eyes. The two guards merely smirked, wondering at the foolishness of the warrior.

Joxer took a deep breath as they entered the room where the Sovereign sat in his chair. He felt the fear race through him but it was nothing compared to the hatred he felt for this man. A feeling so deep it settled in the pit of his stomach, fiery, warming him when it spread out throughout his body. He let it overrun the fear until the only emotion he felt was rage at the man who sat before him so calmly.

"Oh, if it isn't Joxer" the Sovereign said, looking up as Joxer entered the room.

He did not bother to hide his amusement at Joxer's expression. The man was livid. The Sovereign kept silent as Joxer sized him up before stepping forward. The guards stepped forward in response but the Sovereign merely shook his head at them.

"You may leave us, guards. Joxer seems to have a lot he wants to discuss with me." The Sovereign said an indecipherable expression on his face. "Isn't that right Joxer?" he asked the warrior.

Joxer simply nodded, stance wide readying his body for attack. He had no visible weapon but unbeknownst to the guards he had fashioned a weapon while in the cell. It was a crude but hopefully effective blade. He was hoping to use it to kill the sovereign. He flexed his hands loosening his fingers for the moment when he would have opportunity to dive for the blade and put an end to the Sovereign's tyranny.

Joxer watched from the corner of his eye as the guards exited the room. When he shifted attention fully to the Sovereign he saw that the man was smiling down at him, mug in hand.

"Would you care for a drink?" the Sovereign asked. He laughed as Joxer simply looked at him disbelievingly, not moving to take the mug.

"You don't trust me do you?" he said. "Well I can understand that. We really should try to get along you know."

"And why is that?" Joxer asked through gritted teeth, finding the Sovereign's friendly manner extremely jarring.

"Well, we do have some things in common. We are both warriors and...we have a mutual acquaintance," he said, smirking as he saw Joxer stiffen.

"Oh yes our dear sweet Jester. He is so tempting, is he not? That golden hair, those lips that beg to be kissed" the Sovereign taunted.

"Not by you!" Joxer practically shouted, loosing his composure.

"Only by me! Don't you understand Joxer? He belongs with me...he belongs *to* me," he said, turning his back to Joxer to place his mug on a small table. He waited twenty seconds before whirling around rapidly stepping sideways just as Joxer lunged at him with the blade.

He watched as Joxer righted himself after slamming into the table.

"Just what do you hope to accomplish here?" he asked, genuinely curious.

"I want to kill you so that you can't hurt anyone ever again." Joxer said, lunging again towards the Sovereign.

The Sovereign dodged him, at the same time reaching out a hand as Joxer passed him. He pushed the warrior as he passed, watching as Joxer sailed into the far wall, twisting around just in time so that he didn't smash his head into the wall.

Joxer lay on the ground stunned. He did not even have the strength to raise his arms to protect himself as the Sovereign advanced on him.

Iolaus thrummed his fingers on his knee nervously. The better part of an hour had passed and still no word from Joxer.

He sighed and brought his hand up to rake his fingers through the golden curls. He stared straight at the cell door as if that could somehow make the warrior arrive any faster. He shook his head.

When had life gotten so complicated?

Someone who on his world he regarded as a harmless pseudo-warrior was now defending his honor and didn't even realize he was defending the wrong man.

And what of Hercules? Was he at this moment gaining access to this place? Or was it impossible? Would he be stuck here forever? Iolaus wanted to scream. There were so many questions but no answers were forthcoming.

None of those answers could be solved while he was sitting in the cell. His more immediate concern was the missing warrior.

Once again his thoughts turned back to Joxer. Hercules was pacing back and forth in anxiety. He glanced over at the jester who was watching him nervously. The man fairly jumped out of his skin every time Hercules got too close. It unnerved Hercules to see Iolaus afraid of him even if he knew it was not his Iolaus.

He had managed to learn some things from the jester and it was nothing comforting. He had heard enough about the Sovereign to know that Iolaus might be suffering from unwanted attention.

All he could hope for was that Iolaus had managed to evade the Sovereign, as the Jester called him, and was holed up in some nice comfy place with no care in the world except to get back home.

In the meantime he had to see what he could do from his end. He had to somehow reach Iolaus. He needed the Hunter once more by his side. Nothing would feel right until Iolaus was back with him where he belonged.

"What do you think has happened to Joxer?" one of Iolaus' cell mates whispered.

"I don't know. I can only hope he is ok..." Iolaus was interrupted by the sound of movement outside the cell area.

Iolaus jumped up when he saw the guards approaching the door. There was a lead guard who was set to open the cell door. Behind me two other guards dragged another man along. The man between them did not struggle. His head was down. All Iolaus could see was the dark hair, too much like the style Joxer wore.

One of the guards holding the man smiled cruelly and grabbed a fistful of the man's hair, yanking his head up. Iolaus' breath caught in his throat. As he had feared, it was Joxer.

Pain filled eyes opened to meet his gaze before they drifted closed once more.

"This man has been beaten for his attempts to assassinate the Sovereign. Anyone coming to his aid will be labeled an accomplice and be dealt with accordingly." The lead guard announced.

There was a murmur among those in the cell before those who had stepped forward reflexively, shrunk back against the far wall of the cell. They fought within themselves to help Joxer but realized it would do Joxer no good for them all to die.

Iolaus barely heard him as he rushed forward. The guards shoved Joxer in and closed the cell door behind him. Iolaus caught Joxer as he stumbled. sinking down to the ground with Joxer in his arms.

He looked up defiantly at the guards as he held the warrior.

The lead guard laughed aloud at the defiant look. "Don't worry Jester you can tend to him if you want. I'm sure the Sovereign will take great pleasure in 'punishing' you" the guard said, leering at Iolaus.

Iolaus turned his face away from the guard and shifted the man in his arms to make him more comfortable. Remarkably there were no bruises on Joxer's face save for blood on his lip where Joxer had bitten himself. Joxer moaned and opened his eyes, his hand moving up to clutch at his side.

Iolaus' heart sank at the movement. He shifted Joxer again so that he could have him in a semi-seated position. He lifted the tunic slightly and was not surprised at the bruises and cuts he saw scattered over Joxer's torso.

None of them appeared that deep. He realized with shock that they were mostly surface wounds. Enough so that the person would suffer greatly but not enough to kill them.

*But then that wouldn't be his style would it?* Iolaus though bitterly to himself *He would rather keep people alive so that he can toy with them.*

"I'm just going to set you down Joxer" he said, moving to lay Joxer on the ground.

Joxer shook his head and grabbed the front of Iolaus' shirt "No" he whispered.

"I'm just going to get some water to clean off your wounds" Iolaus said trying to comfort the other man.

"No! Please." Joxer said clutching at his shirt even more and struggling to sit up.

"Okay, okay. I'll stay here just lie still." Iolaus said quickly.

He looked up as one of the other prisoners bought over some water before scurrying away. He smiled gratefully, knowing that to speak his thanks would be to invite the attention of the guards.

He ripped part of Joxer's tunic and dipped it in the water using it to clean the warrior's wounds. Joxer's eyes closed again as he relaxed under Iolaus' ministrations.

"Oh Joxer" he whispered "I'm so sorry"

Joxer opened his eyes and smiled up at him. "It's not your fault love, the Sovereign is a tyrant. If only there were a way to be rid of him," he said struggling to sit up.

This time Iolaus helped him to straighten keeping hold of him as he moved into seated position. Joxer leaned into the hunter and turned to look into Iolaus' face.

"I wish there was something I could do..." he trailed off, shaking his head sorrow overwhelming the warm eyes.

"I-I can take care of myself," Iolaus said back in reassurance though he knew neither of them was quite reassured.

Joxer stared into his face one moment before reaching to caress his cheek before sliding his hand to the back of Iolaus' neck.

"I love you" Joxer said simply pulling Iolaus forward at the same time that he leaned in.

For just a second Iolaus' resisted but it passed quickly. He did not love Joxer but he could understand whatever love the Iolaus of this world possessed for the warrior. He knew that had his heart not already belonged to Hercules then things might have been different.

He pressed his lips to Joxer letting the warrior have his fill. It started off as a soft kiss, deepening slowly. When he felt the press of Joxer's tongue against his lips he opened them readily granting Joxer entrance. He could feel the other man sigh as he explored the haven of Iolaus' mouth. Finally when Iolaus thought to pull back to catch his breath Joxer released him smiling at him before leaning into him again and resting his head on Iolaus' chest.

"Thank you" Joxer said softly.

Iolaus sat there letting the warrior rest against him feeling as he grew heavier against him. He waited until the breathing had evened out before he moved to lay Joxer on the ground.

"Joxer. The Iolaus of this world is so lucky to have you," he said looking down at the sleeping warrior. He looked up to see the others in the cell pressed against the wall afraid to go near them after the warning from the guard.
"I can't let this continue" Iolaus said softly to the sleeping man. "I have to stop the Sovereign not only for myself but for all these men who fear for their lives." He leaned down to kiss Joxer's lips softly.
"I have to stop him for matter what it takes"

Iolaus rose slowly from his knees steeling himself before turning to walk to the cell door.

He called to one of the guards who stood outside.

"What do you want Jester?" the guard asked with a growl.

"Take a message to the Sovereign. Tell him...tell him the jester is ready for his 'unwrapping'" Iolaus said surprised when his voice did not break.

The guard's eyes widened before he nodded and left to relay the message.

Sooner than Iolaus would have hoped for the guard returned and opened the cell door.

"You are to come with me" he said amusement in his voice.

Iolaus nodded and stepped forward through the door. He turned to look one last time at the sleeping warrior.

"For you Joxer" he said softly before turning back to make his way to the Sovereign.

I had intended to have Iolaus and Ares become ...ahem 'better acquainted' shall we say? ;-) However Hercules insisted that Iolaus belonged with him and no one else. And hey, who am I to argue with a demi-god?

*Another walk through the halls* Iolaus thought to himself. *And just like before no one steps forward to intervene.*

Iolaus shook his head, more out of sadness than anger. He couldn't really be angry with anyone here. Would he be any different had he lived here? He gave a ghost of a smile as he realized the answer to that question was yes. If he lived here he would be a jester, trying to thwart the unwanted advances of the Sovereign.

He straightened his clothes nervously as he walked down the hall the rip in the fabric a reminder of his last encounter with the Sovereign. He wondered if Joxer had managed to hurt the Sovereign in any way. Enough to slow him down at least.

His head jerked up as they passed by the room he had seen the Sovereign in last.

"Where are we going?" he asked the guard in front of him.

The guard ignored him, showing no reaction save a smirk on his face. Iolaus swallowed nervously but did not falter in his step. Finally they reached a closed doorway and the guard in front of him stepped forward to knock on the door.

Iolaus shifted from foot to foot waiting for some response from inside, he turned to another guard to question why they were there when suddenly the door opened. He turned back his breath catching in his throat when he saw the Sovereign standing in the doorway.

The Sovereign smiled when Iolaus took a step back involuntarily. His eyes were feral as his gaze raked over Iolaus' body. Iolaus took another step backward at the hot gaze before colliding with the guard in back of him.

*Get a grip Iolaus. A look won't hurt you.* Iolaus thought to himself, squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath. He let the breath back out again in a soft curse when the Sovereign chose that moment to step back from the doorway.

Iolaus looked beyond him and it was suddenly clear to him why he had been taken to this room instead of the Sovereign's audience chamber.

Visible in the room was a large bed. There was a low table to the right of the bed. There were several small bottles of what looked to be oil on the table. There was a length of rope on the table, which Iolaus refused to speculate on its purpose. Next to that was a tray set with fruits, cheese and drink. Cups and a knife were set up near the tray.

The Sovereign leered at him as he saw Iolaus take in the room stepping back even further to let Iolaus pass.

"Come in. Make yourself comfortable" the Sovereign said, shutting the door in the face of the guard who had been about to speak.

"Thanks" Iolaus said gritting his teeth at the phony civility.

Iolaus eyed the bed and chose to remain standing turning towards the Sovereign to keep him in sight. He smiled up at the taller man, trying to center himself.

"I was told you wanted to see me," the Sovereign said practically purring. Now that he had the Jester in his bedchamber he had no intention of letting the man go and so could afford to be as slow as he needed to be.

Iolaus could see the surprise on the Sovereign's face when Iolaus stepped forward with a smile, taking off his shirt to partially expose the golden body and reached out to trail a finger along the Sovereign's chest. He could hear the Sovereign's audible gasp at the contact when Iolaus lightly stroked over a nipple.

"I had a chance to reconsider." Iolaus said, moving in even closer to the demigod so that his hot breath brushed over the larger man's chest.
"I think we could be of mutual benefit to one another," he said, letting his tongue flick out quickly to swipe at the other man's right nipple. Iolaus had to fight the urge to gasp as the other man arched towards him, his arousal evident as his erection pressed against Iolaus' stomach.

Iolaus heart sank as the Sovereign grabbed a fistful of hair and yanked his head up. He thought for sure the Sovereign would see through his deception, he brought his hands up to push against the Sovereign's chest but the Sovereign just pulled him in closer a dangerous gleam in his eye.

Iolaus looked up eyes wide as the Sovereign leaned towards him and then all thought fled as the Sovereign brought his lips crashing down on to his. It was total surrender that the Sovereign was striving for and he let his intentions be known in the kiss. He did not ask for permission to enter the sweetness of Iolaus' mouth, he demanded it. His tongue pressed against the Jester's teeth until he had no choice but to comply with the demand.

Iolaus had to force himself to remain calm as the Sovereign lowered one of his hands from Iolaus hair to caress his back, finally moving down to his ass.

Finally when Iolaus thought he would faint from lack of oxygen, the Sovereign released him. Iolaus stepped back fighting the urge to wipe his lips, breathing heavily, feeling lightheaded from lack of air.

He saw the Sovereign's eyes become feral again as he watched the Hunter's chest rise and fall with each breath. Iolaus stepped forward again realizing that he needed to keep in control or all would be lost.

He reached again for the Sovereign, trailing his hand up the other man's arm and over his shoulder. The touch was feather light all the more reason for the Sovereign to arch into the touch. Iolaus stepped even closer and let the hand drop, brushing over heated skin on its way down. He let his hand casually brush the other man's crotch, feeling the hardness therein, which was straining against the Sovereign's pants.

He felt it then, the Sovereign relaxed minutely letting Iolaus direct the encounter, probably not even aware he had given in. Iolaus moved slowly forward, standing on tiptoes and bringing his other hand up to grip the back of the Sovereign's neck. He pulled the Sovereign forward and down as he tilted his head up to meet the Sovereign's lips in a kiss.

He kept the kiss light and only gradually deepened it. He felt as strong hands gripped his hips almost bruisingly as the Sovereign pulled him forward so that their bodies were aligned. He shivered at the feel of the erection pressed against his stomach but resisted the urge to jump back.

He began to move against the other man, tearing his lips away to breathe and heard the low moan coming from the Sovereign as he surrendered to the pleasure of having Iolaus moving against him. The Sovereign's skin was flush; his breathing growing labored as he tried to keep pace with the feelings coursing through his body. Iolaus could not deny that this man was beautiful in the throes of passion. But he also knew that it took more than the physical to be truly beautiful and in this way the Sovereign could never compare to Hercules. Hercules had a beautiful soul to complement his physique, this world's demigod was nothing like that.

Iolaus threaded his fingers through the Sovereign's so that the Sovereign had to let go of his hips and he stepped back. The Sovereign tried step forward protesting the movement but was brought short by Iolaus leaning forward and licking teasingly at his nipple. He moaned low in his throat and stilled, not willing to dislodge Iolaus' mouth. When Iolaus was sure the Sovereign would not try to grab his hips again he moved his mouth back slightly, smiling slightly when the Sovereign followed.

He freed his hands from the Sovereign's grasp, bringing them forward to cup the other man's erection. He opened and closed his hand over the bulge as the other man arched into the touch.

Iolaus tensed, he could feel the Sovereign getting close to release. He had to be ready to go for the knife on the table, it would be his only chance to catch the Sovereign unaware and put an end to this madness. Iolaus was startled when he was pushed away roughly from the Sovereign's body he stumbled back, falling to the floor..

The Sovereign stood over him, breathing heavily, eyes darkened with need. He took deep breaths, trying to bring his body back under control. Finally he smiled at Iolaus who had begun to rise slowly from the ground.

"Who knew you had such skills Jester?" he said smiling as the smaller man straightened fully and backed away. "However," he said taking a step forward "I don't want to spill my passion in my pants. No, I want to spill my seed in your body. And I get what I want" he finished half way between a growl and a taunt. "Now, I think what I want is for you to be naked on that bad"

Iolaus heart sank at the words but he nodded slowly. He moved towards the bed shedding his clothes. If possible the Sovereign's eyes darkened even further at the sight of the golden body before him. He licked his lips appreciatively and moved forward again pushing the other man onto the bed, Iolaus tensed as the Sovereign leaned over him to kiss him.

Just then there was a great clatter outside the doorway. The Sovereign stood up and turned towards the door at the noise. Iolaus reacted purely on instinct. The second the Sovereign was turned away Iolaus scrambled away from the Sovereign and grabbed for the knife on the table. He gripped it firmly just as the Sovereign had turned back towards the bed. He lunged forward with the knife and the Sovereign stepped to the side. Iolaus was carried forward by his momentum and stumbled, almost dropping the knife. He turned around quickly jumping back away from the Sovereign.

"So you want to play rough? I can do rough" the Sovereign said smirking eyes narrowed as he advanced on the other man again.

Iolaus seethed recognizing that the Sovereign was playing with him. They made move and countermoves in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. He lunged forward again and the Sovereign sprang forward at the same time knocking into Iolaus and sending him spinning into the corner and crashing into the wall before tumbling to the ground.

Iolaus tried to straighten but the impact with the wall had left him disoriented. The knife lay a few feet from his hand, but it was forgotten as he tried to rise from the ground. At the moment it seemed like a monumental task. He struggled up, shaking his head to clear his blurred vision. He didn't see the Sovereign approach or the calculating look on the other man's face. He didn't need to. The growl that the other man let out as he approached was enough warning. Iolaus tensed not knowing which way to move as the blurry shape approached him. He gasped as strong arms grabbed him and moved him to the side. He struggled thinking the Sovereign had grabbed him.

"Stop struggling, I'm trying to help" the other man said softly.

Iolaus looked up briefly, startled as his vision cleared and he found himself in Ares' arms. He didn't have time to ask anything else because Ares suddenly shoved him to the side turning to face the Sovereign.

The Sovereign laughed as the mortal and the God of Love looked back at him.

"Oh, very nice Jester. This is who you have coming to your defense? Mr. 'I'm a lover not a fighter' Ares?"

Ares merely looked back at him as if daring him to come closer. Iolaus watched the squaring off with interest. If Ares could just distract the demi-god long enough then he could go for the knife. As if he knew Iolaus' intention Ares attacked, rushing forward and catching the Sovereign by surprise.

Iolaus ran towards the knife and turned around just in time to see Ares being knocked to the ground.

Hercules roared. Finally! Finally the tunnel was opening, soon when it was big enough he would rush through and reach Iolaus. He only prayed that Iolaus was okay and it was a rescue rather than a mission of vengeance that he was embarking upon

.He looked to the Jester who stood beside him. The man looked frightened and uncertain. He also looked expectant. He had told Hercules about a special warrior that was his love. The Jester was concerned for the other man. Hercules smiled slightly. Soon. Soon, they would both be reunited with the ones they loved.

Iolaus gripped the knife in his hand and launched himself at the Sovereign. He saw the look of surprise on the Sovereign's face as he turned just in time to watch the knife sink into his side. He opened his mouth as if to speak before he staggered back pulling away from Iolaus and tumbling to the ground.

Iolaus watched with mixed emotions as blood spread out from the knife wound, the pain of it clear on the Sovereign's face. He shook his head as Ares stood up shakily and approached.

"That is not your Hercules, Iolaus" the God of Love assured him.

"I know. I know" the Hunter answered. He turned away from the Sovereign who had gone still to face the God of Love.

Ares was looking him up and down. Now that the danger had passed the God wasted no time in admiring the golden hunter before him.

Iolaus sighed "How about giving me a hand here?" he asked.

"I'd love to" the God of Love answered, a cocky grin on his face.

"I mean some clothes. For me. So I don't parade around half naked" Iolaus said in exasperation.

"Well, okay. Though I think it's a terrible crime to cover up that body." He said, waving his hand in the air. Instantly Iolaus found himself clothed again.

"Thanks" Iolaus said making his way towards the door of the bedchamber.

He reached it and was just walking through it when he heard Ares' shout of warning and heavy footsteps sounding behind him accompanied by a sound of rage.

The tunnel was fully formed. Hercules grabbed the Jester and hurried towards it. The tunnel sucked them in and they were surrounded by darkness and then swirling colors.

Iolaus ran down the hall, he didn't know where he was going and he didn't much care. His only concern now was putting space between himself and the Sovereign. He could hear Ares making attempts to slow the Sovereign but he also knew Ares was not a fighter, but was doing all he could to assist.

Iolaus gasped as he suddenly saw before him a tunnel of light opening up just like the tunnel that he had been pulled through to reach this alternate world.

He ran towards it, hoping that it would lead back to his world. He ran towards the opening. Just as he was about to step through he collided with something or someone. He looked up from where he had fallen and found that he was staring at himself.

It took him a moment to realize that this was the Jester. The Iolaus of this world. He shoved the man to the side.

"Go, free the others. Reclaim your world" he said to his counterpart, waiting for the man to nod in return.

"You must help them," he shouted to Ares before throwing himself in to the tunnel, knowing the Sovereign would follow. Even if he couldn't save himself he took some comfort in knowing that he could save this world and perhaps his own.

Iolaus rushed forward feeling the hot breath of the Sovereign on his neck. He was too close. Iolaus increased his speed, the mass of swirling colors around him disorienting him.

He put on a sudden burst of speed as he felt the Sovereign just miss snagging his shoulder. He collided with something solid and would have stumbled off had not that something grabbed him.

He looked up into the Sovereign's face and struggled against him, not prepared to die without a fight.

"Iolaus, stop fighting. It's me Hercules! What's wrong?"

Iolaus stilled instantly, looking up into his friend's face in utter surprise. He was about to answer when he heard the roar behind him and Hercules looked over his head to see the other man barreling towards them.

"Run" he told Iolaus softly, pushing Iolaus in the right direction. Iolaus hesitated but a moment before he ran. He had confidence in Hercules and the Sovereign was hurt from the knife wound he had given him earlier that should give Hercules the edge in what otherwise would be a fight of equals.

He heard the sounds of combat behind him and looked back just in time to see Hercules strike the other man and send him flying off to the side.

Iolaus turned again and ran seeing his own world at the end of the tunnel. His body sang with joy. He was returning home. He gasped as he saw the tunnel entrance begin to shrink.

"Hercules, it's closing off!"

"Go. I'm right behind you!"

Iolaus ran forward tumbling from the tunnel and scrambling away from its pull. Behind him he heard a thump on the ground and knew that Hercules had just escaped as well. Hearing a muffled curse he turned and saw Hercules a short distance from him, sliding backwards towards the tunnel. He reached forward desperately grasping the other man's hands and trying to pull him, arms straining, knowing even as he did that he would fail. Hercules continued his slide getting closer and closer to the mouth of the tunnel. Iolaus' eyes widened as he realized they were lost, but just then the tunnel closed with a pop.

Both men sagged in relief lying on the ground for several minutes as they recovered. Finally Hercules straightened up and stood from the ground, righting the Hunter and enfolding him in his arms.

Hercules held on for dear life, glad to be alive and with his friend. His love.

"Hercules, I thought I would never see you again." The Hunter said, his voice muffled against the demi-god's chest. He leaned back and looked up into his friend's face, smiling at what he saw there. The demi-god looked at him with such love; it could not be mistaken.

Hercules smiled and leaned down brushing his lips softly against Iolaus' own. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to be kissing the Hunter, as if they were meant for one another.

"I love you my friend," the Hunter said smiling up at the demi-god.

"And I love you Iolaus" Hercules said, reveling the feel of the smaller man in his arms.

He leaned down again and kissed the other man. It was a kiss filled with promises, heavy with meaning. A kiss of love. A love that could never be broken, even if they found themselves worlds apart.

--The End--

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