Fandom:  Hercules: The Legendary Journeys/The Professionals
Title: Brothers at Arms
Author: Sigrina
Rating:

Email: Storm9632@aol.com 


Brothers at Arms

by Sigrina


Unions between gods and mortals have ever been chancy things. And the 
offspring of such unions have always been anything but predictable. One was 
as likely to get a monster as a hero. There had been malicious geniuses, 
awe-inspiring leaders, meddlers, monumental fools. The only thing they had 
ever had in common was that they were not mundane beings living boring lives. 

No, the children of gods, even with the curse of a half-mortal existence, 
were never boring...

The first son of Zeus born to a mortal woman in over one thousand years 
started life in a very ordinary, mortal way. Not for him an infant strength 
that could crush serpents from the cradle. At birth he seemed no different to 
any other child. His infancy passed without any serious mishap. At ten years 
old he was not dissimilar to any other ten year old. A little brighter, 
perhaps; his wit a little sharper, his physical reactions a little more 
mature than his supposed peers. But nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

At twelve his heritage had begun to manifest itself. He grew at a greater 
rate than the others in his class, until he stood a head above the 
next-tallest. In looks and attitude he could pass for three or four years 
older.

His moods began to communicate themselves to others. Usually the most sunny 
of characters he would, occasionally, fall into a bleak despondency that 
would blight the lives of those around him. And when he felt frivolous no one 
could maintain a serious disposition. His charm worked on almost everyone. He 
could, and did, get away with the most outrageous things.

There were a few sticky moments when, unthinkingly, he did something a little 
too unusual. But he soon learned to cover up. He became an expert at 
pretending to be normal. By the time he'd reached his thirteenth birthday 
he'd hidden his unusual abilities so well that even he had forgotten that he 
possessed them. His mother no longer had to rebuke him for absently lifting 
heavy weights, or moving too swiftly. He even began to achieve less in games 
lessons. Oh, not all at once, but gradually enough so that his instructors 
believed that his was a talent that had burned itself out practically before 
it had developed.

A few months after his thirteenth birthday his mother married. The shame of 
being a single mother had kept most men from regarding her with any respect. 
It couldn't really be said that her new husband respected her. But she had a 
house (left to her by an aunt), a reasonably permanent job (as a 
barmaid-come-singer at a private club) and she could cook. Better still, she 
was pathetically grateful and was a willing doormat.

His new stepfather did not succumb to the boy's charm. The blows became more 
and more frequent. Due to a mixture of love and guilt, fostered by his 
mother, the boy allowed the beatings to go ahead. He hardly even felt them 
anyway.

A month before the boy's fourteenth birthday his mother got a job at another 
club. The pay was better, which her husband appreciated. The hours were 
longer and the clothing more provocative, which he did not. He spent a couple 
of weeks in growing frustration as she left for work wearing outfits that 
left nothing to the imagination and returned home in the early hours of the 
morning wanting only to sleep. Still expected to cook and clean, she had 
scant energy to devote to her husband. One evening, caught in a web of 
frustration and resentment, his stepfather decided that his wife's bastard 
might be put to some use after all...

The boy took a while to realise that this was not just another beating. With 
realisation came incandescent rage. His stepfather found himself hurled 
across the room. Hands moving with blurring speed grasped his throat and 
throttled him with inhuman strength.

As soon as it had come the rage died away. Trembling, the boy gazed down on 
the man sprawled before him. He rushed to his room, thrust a few belongings 
in his school-bag, then ran back downstairs and out of the door. Dawn saw him 
waiting on the docks. His plan was to get himself on a merchant ship bound 
for anywhere. Instead he was hailed by a grey-haired, distinguished looking 
man who called him by name. The next moment found him in Olympus, facing the 
father he had never met before...

* * * * * *


Ares was bored. Oh, there was a war or two going on somewhere, but nothing 
exciting, nothing Earth-moving. And, anyway, it was all so passé. He hadn't 
had any real fun in centuries. Everybody took war so seriously these days! 
Oh, for the old days when war was glorious. Idly, he surveyed his options. 
His attention was caught by a minor skirmish in a little place called 
England. He drifted in to see if it would develop.

There were a number of swarthy, well-armed men here and there, being pursued 
by other less-swarthy men. The man giving orders to the latter seemed vaguely 
interesting. An old soldier. Ah, but old soldiers were so sad in a way. 
Soldiers should die valiantly in battle, they shouldn't wither into old men. 
Ares sniffed. And as for the rest of them, they had the unmistakable stink of 
policemen. With a grimace of disgust, he began to turn away. Then something 
caught his eye. A man ran across a stretch of road, shooting as he went. 
There was something familiar... 'William?' he exclaimed. The man faltered, 
turning his gaze towards Ares, then gave a shout of pain as a bullet grazed 
his arm. He fell, hitting his head against the ground, and passed out. Ares 
watched as another man raced towards his fallen comrade.

William. Oh, he'd almost forgotten his little half-brother. Now, how could he 
have done that? He watched as the man was led away. Well, well, maybe this 
boring little skirmish had produced something of interest after all...


******


Bodie grimaced as the doctor cleaned the graze. God, Ray had been cutting. 
Mind you, Bodie conceded, he had a point. He'd behaved like a complete prat, 
standing there in full view of anyone who wanted to take a pot-shot at him. 
He hadn't been able to tell Doyle why. He hadn't wanted to sound certifiable: 
'Well, Mate, it was like this, someone called my name and stood there in 
front of me. and for a moment I knew him and wondered what Ares was doing on 
a street in London.'

Ares. 

As he was being led away to Doyle's car he'd seen Ares still standing there, 
had even seen someone walk straight through him. Ares, the god of War. It was 
crazy. HE was crazy! 

'Hello, little brother.'

Bodie started. Fortunately, the doctor had already withdrawn the needle from 
his arm and turned away. Bodie said nothing. He was damned if he'd talk to 
hallucinations!

'You do remember me, don't you, little brother William? I know you do. I 
removed the memory block. Everything should be coming back to you.'

And everything was. Six years of fake memories melted away. Six years on 
Olympus. Six years of Hera's spite, his father's guarded affection, the 
teasing, tormenting, casual patronage of most of his half-brothers and 
sisters. Half-mortal in a world of gods, William Bodie had first tried to fit 
in, then tried to excel, and finally had rejected his heritage. After six 
years he'd asked Zeus to make him mortal, begged to be sent back to the 
mortal world. Zeus had stated that William couldn't go back as he was. The 
world had no place for superhuman powers anymore. So make me mortal, William 
had said. Zeus had been doubtful. How could his son ever find contentment in 
his life, always knowing what he had given up? So take my memories , William 
had cried. Make me forget all about this.

Finally, realising that his son would never be content living on Olympus, 
Zeus had done so, taking away the strength and speed, removing the memories 
and replacing them with an alternate history. And so, at the age of twenty, 
William Andrew Phillip Bodie had awakened in some hellhole in Africa 
remembering a history that hadn't happened until a few moments before...



************************************

'Well, Little Brother?' 

The doctor had gone. Ares was sitting on the examining table cross-legged.

'Hello, Ares. How's business?'

Ares smiled. 'Deadly dull, my dear William.'

Bodie winced at the use of his name. 'I prefer Bodie. What the hell are you 
doing here, Ares?' 

Ares shrugged, pouted, 'Just came to see my little brother. No law against 
that, is there?' 

Bodie perched on the window ledge, wincing as bruises began to make 
themselves known.

'Oh, I dunno. Probably is. I doubt you entered this country on a valid 
passport.' 

Ares waved a hand, nonchalantly: what did mortal rules matter to him? Bodie, 
correctly interpreting the gesture, shook his head and sighed. 

'What do you want with me, Ares?' he asked.

Ares jumped down from the table. He placed an arm around Bodie's shoulder, 
his hand playing with Bodie's ear, gently stroking it. 'I just bet you're 
sick of this existence, William. You're getting older, the reflexes are 
slowing. One day you'll meet someone faster, younger, better than you. And 
then... BANG! You're dead. You really can't enjoy this mortality. I tried it 
once, you know. Some stupid little scheme of Hades'.' Ares gave a theatrical 
shudder. 'It was dreadful. All that pain and weakness and all the other 
disgusting attributes of mortality. But it doesn't have to be like that, 
Little Brother. Put yourself in my hands and I'll place you above all that. 
I'll make you great!'

He smirked as Bodie began to rub his head, catlike, against Ares' hand. But 
the man was frowning.

'So why would you want to make me great, Ares?' he asked.

Ares smiled his best hungry-shark smile. 'Life's so boring these days, 
William. The world needs stirring up a little. What do you say?'

'Thanks, but no thanks.' Bodie's voice said that the matter was closed. 

Ares changed tactics. 'Okay, Little Brother, forget I mentioned it. But 
wouldn't you like some of your strength back? You can't really enjoy being so 
weak!'

The thought was appealing. But... 'I thought that Zeus made me completely 
mortal?'

Ares nodded. 'He did, in a way. If you were shot through the heart now, you'd 
almost certainly die. But our respected father didn't actually take away your 
strength and invulnerability, he just convinced your body that he did. You 
can die of something trivial because you believe you can. You think that you 
are mortal so you are mortal. From the moment that you truly believe that you 
are a demigod then your abilities will return. Zeus was rather fond of you, 
you know. He didn't really want to lose you. He's already helped you once 
since you rejected your heritage. He probably keeps an eye on you every so 
often.' Not that Zeus was looking on now. Ares had been caught like that 
before. He'd made sure that the father of the gods was otherwise occupied 
before coming here.

'When did Zeus help me?' 

Ares smirked. He knew that'd get his brother. 

'The time your partner - the policeman - got shot. He should have died. Would 
have died. But you prayed that he would live. Oh, maybe not consciously to 
Zeus but, being who you are, he was the one who heard you. So he saved your 
beloved partner. Because you wanted it. And the only thing you'd ever asked 
of him before was to let you go. Even the most mighty of fathers sometimes 
need to feel wanted, needed. And you needed him, little brother.'

Bodie stared at his half-brother. He had vague memories of doctors saying 
that Ray had made an incredible recovery. And he suddenly saw again the 
expression on Macklin's face as Doyle had managed to put down Towser. All he, 
Bodie, had felt at the time was satisfaction that the 'Dynamic Duo', the 
'Bisto Kids', had beaten the odds again. Now, he realised how unlikely it had 
all been.

Ares broke into his thoughts. 

'So, you're happy with this boring, mundane, pathetic existence. Fine. But 
that doesn't mean we can't hang around together, does it? A few drinks, 
weapons practise. Come on, little brother, life is so boring at the moment.'

Bodie gave his immortal half-brother a searching glance, thinking back to his 
childhood on Olympus. Ares had never been really bad to him. The young 
William had been warned about the god of War: his mother's darling; his 
mother's lapdog. The boy had expected the worst but instead he had been 
pleasantly surprised. The Wargod had seemed to take an particular interest in 
his young brother. He'd even risked Hera's displeasure to teach him the Arts 
of War. Ares had taught his brother to use a wide variety of weapons and 
different fighting skills. William had once asked him why. The answer had 
worried him for a while. Ares had said that there was a darkness in his young 
half-brother, a seed of greatness. Ares had said he could make a brilliant 
general given guidance. William had shied away from that. Starved as he was 
for affection, still, he could see the dangers of falling too deep into Ares' 
power. Besides, by that time he was already disenchanted with Olympus. In the 
mortal world he'd been strong, clever, popular. Here, he knew he was merely 
tolerated by most, actively disliked by some. And most beings he met could 
tear him apart without breathing hard.


Bodie hesitated. He was positive that Ares was up to something. But... newly 
awakened memories reminded him of the fun he and Ares had had. Not all of it 
innocent fun, true, but Bodie's morals had never been particularly 
well-developed. Okay, so Ares could be malicious, even vicious, at times. 
But, despite everything, he'd always been okay with Bodie. More than okay at 
times, Bodie thought, remembering some of the things they had got up to. His 
body remembered, too...

Which turned his thoughts suddenly to Ray Doyle. He'd fancied his partner for 
ages, now. And recently it had gone beyond the 'fancying' stage. He'd 
realised this fact in the middle of wining and dining a stunning redhead. 
Halfway through the meal he found himself virtually 'going through the 
motions' of seduction. Bodie loved flirting. It was something he was good at. 
But flirting, dating, never seemed quite as fun as when Ray Doyle was around. 
And half the time it was Ray he was flirting with rather than the bird he was 
supposed to be with. And Bodie could have sworn that Doyle was doing the 
same. Wrapped around his current 'flavours-of-the-month' (or week, or, let's 
face it, sometimes even night) Bodie often found his eyes practically glued 
to Doyle. And he'd says things, do things, to ensure that Ray would look at 
him. Bodie liked it when Ray looked at him. He realised how serious it had 
been getting when he'd passed up an opportunity of a luxury weekend with 
sexually-athletic raver because he and Doyle had agreed to watch the football 
on the telly that Saturday. And he'd enjoyed swilling beer and squabbling 
with Ray far more than he would have enjoyed getting his leg over. 

But now Ray was spending a hell of a lot of time with his new bird, Carrie. 
Who didn't seem to appreciate Bodie's sterling qualities. Who didn't like 
Bodie hanging out with her boyfriend. Who certainly didn't want to take part 
in Bodie and Doyle's usual double-dating. And Doyle seemed to be happy to go 
along with her. It was pretty obvious that Raymond Doyle didn't feel quite so 
desperate to spend all his waking moments with his partner as said partner 
would wish. And Bodie just couldn't be bothered to summon up the enthusiasm 
for seducing a beautiful woman on his own any more. So he had time on his 
hands, empty hours with nothing but the telly or a pint glass for company. 

And Ares certainly knew how to have a good time.

'No tricks, Ares. I'm quite happy being mortal, thank you very much.'

Ares smiled. 'I promise you, Little Brother. No tricks. I won't do a thing to 
affect your precious mortality. Now, are we going to spend all day in this 
unpleasant place? I don't suppose that you'd mind if I removed the pain of 
that little scratch, would you? No? I didn't think so. Come on then. Let's 
get out of here and start having some fun.'

Bodie sighed. Well, he was off duty, he supposed. 'Why not,' he said, 
quelling a feeling that he'd just changed the course of his life.

Ares stared with satisfaction at his brother. The man was moving with easy, 
deadly grace, sending his opponents hurtling through the air.

There was very little of the mortal in him now. And Ares hadn't even had to 
break his word. His brother had done it all himself. Knowing who - what - he 
was, his body had adapted itself. Knowing it was not truly mortal, William's 
body had shaken off the shackles and limitations of mortality with eager 
speed. The musculature had developed, the speed of the reactions had 
increased, the stamina had multiplied. Ares knew that William had told his 
colleagues that he was working out, weightlifting. But he doubted that his 
brother realised quite how much he had changed. Godhood was, in some respects 
anyway, a state of mind. And while William Andrew Phillip Bodie was not quite 
a god he was so much more than a mortal.

There was still many things that could kill him. But there were so many more 
that couldn't, not now that he had accepted his heritage to this extent. 
Being cut in half by machine-gun fire would kill him, but he'd survive a few 
bullets. Disease - unless it was supernatural in origin - would have no 
effect. And although he would age, it would be at a very slow rate.

Ares watched his brother finish off all his opponents. There had to be a way 
to use that boundless energy. A way that would benefit Ares without drawing 
the attention of either Zeus or Hera. The last thing he wanted was for his 
father to put a stop to Ares' schemes or for his mother to take it into her 
head that her son was being in any way disloyal. Hera had always hated her 
husband's half-mortal bastards with a passion that bordered on insanity. He'd 
got away with it when William was young because he'd convinced Hera that the 
best way to make Zeus disenchanted with his youngest son was to turn William 
against his father. And his mother had been amused at his father's annoyance 
at Ares' intimate relationship with his young half-brother.

Ares sighed. It was hard work trying to be a dutiful son as well as the god 
of War. He really hadn't had any fun in such a long while. He hadn't been 
truly happy for so long, not since...

He froze. He stared at his brother as Bodie wiped his face on a cloth and 
took a drink out of a golden goblet that he then casually tossed aside.

There was a physical resemblance, superficial though it was. Black hair, 
startling blue eyes and solid build. But Ares suddenly realised why he had 
always liked William. His younger half-brother reminded him of Xena!

Now the thought had occurred to him, he wondered why it had taken so long for 
him to see the resemblance. It screamed to him from the arrogant set of the 
shoulders, the wry, mocking twist of the lips, the damning 'screw the lot of 
you' glint in the eyes. Ares knew that Xena had left descendants. How ironic 
if this was one of them! And no wonder he'd found William so attractive.

He stood there, mulling over the strangeness of the universe, when The Idea 
hit him like one of his father's lightning bolts. It was a brilliant idea. 
Absolutely inspired. Mind you, it would take careful planning...

'Hello, anyone in there?' Bodie waved a hand in front of Ares' face. It'd 
given him quite a turn to see Ares just standing there gazing into space with 
an almost ecstatic look on his face. 

Ares blinked, then gave Bodie a blinding, seductive, smile.

'I was just thinking that I could just do with some wine, women and song. 
Come on, little brother, let's go out and party. And then we'll come back 
here and I'll fuck you into the middle of next week.'

Bodie grinned. It was good to have a brother.

********************

George Cowley stared at the reports in front of him, then gazed up at Brian 
Macklin and Kate Ross. They had both been very vocal. Macklin had practically 
raved about Bodie's scores. Bodie had always made one of the best - if not 
the best - scores on these training exercises. But his performance over the 
past few weeks had astounded everyone. And Macklin was certain that he'd been 
toning it down. Brian Macklin had always been able to tell when an agent 
wasn't giving his all. He'd demanded that Cowley let him know the name of 
this gym Bodie was attending. The Ares Fitness Centre, it was called. Macklin 
was talking about going there himself.

But it wasn't all good news. The bad news was Doyle. Or, to be more exact, 
the partnership.

Oh, it was all right in areas that required skill or thinking things through. 
But in other ways things were going badly wrong. Doyle was constantly 
mis-timing his partner's responses. Not surprising, really. Bodie wasn't 
moving like a man in his late thirties, not even one who was superbly fit. 
For the past few years Bodie's reactions, like Doyle's and those of all the 
other members of the 'old guard', had been slowing down. Now all of that had 
changed. He was faster, more alert than he'd ever been. And Doyle couldn't 
keep up...

According to Ross, Doyle wasn't taking this too well. But that wasn't what 
was worrying her. It was Bodie's mental state. Bodie had never been one of 
her favourite people at the best of times. Too flippant and cocky even by 
CI5's rather juvenile standards.

But Bodie's behaviour was more disturbing now. Ross reckoned that Bodie was 
taking almost insane risks. Despite Macklin's protests to the contrary, Ross 
was saying that Bodie was putting his life at stake with a series of 
ridiculous stunts. Even Macklin couldn't deny that Bodie was showing very 
little concern for his own safety. Admittedly they were training exercises. 
But they were still dangerous. And 3.7 was approaching them with a supreme 
arrogant confidence. Only the fact that he still seemed careful of the safety 
of the other agents had kept Ross from ordering him off the active list.

'Bodie's been like this before, sir," Ross said earnestly, "remember the King 
Billy business? More than most of the agents, Bodie walks near the edge. But 
now it's as if he's lost any fear of death; as if he doesn't believe in his 
own mortality. That kind of attitude could get him killed out on the streets. 
It could get Doyle killed, or innocent members of the public. Bodie has 
become too dangerous.'

'Brian? What do you think?'

Macklin had been shaking his head as Ross spoke. 

"I disagree, George. Bodie would never do anything to put Doyle in danger. 
And he's not out-of-control."

"That's your 'expert' opinion on Bodie's mental state is it, Brian?" Kate 
Ross was scathing. "And what will you be saying when we have another Tommy on 
our hands?"

Macklin was shaking his head.

'Bodie's nothing like Tommy. The time is long past when we might have been 
looking at 'Lone-Wolf Bodie'. Doyle's managed to civilise 3.7. And I stand by 
my opinion. Look, control Doyle and you control Bodie. Doyle will get used to 
these changes in Bodie. And Doyle will handle him. And don't forget yourself, 
George. I'll bet that any psych profile done on Bodie shows that he's loyal 
to you.'

Ross nodded her head reluctantly at Macklin's questioning look. 'Bodie's 
loyalty has always been to people rather than institutions. You'll remember 
that I've expressed doubts about this before. He has a great deal of loyalty 
to you and, strangely enough, to Murphy.' She had always considered that to 
be odd. 'But his primary loyalty is to Doyle, way above anything else. It 
hadn't used to be so strong, but in the last few years... if it came to a 
choice between Doyle and CI5, sir, I don't think Bodie would hesitate.'

'Och, don't you think I know that. But Bodie isn't a loose cannon, Kate, and 
between us 4.5 and I will make sure that he walks the straight and narrow. 
3.7 stays on active duty. I'll have a word with Doyle. He's likely to fly off 
the handle, but he'll take extra of Bodie, I'm sure of it. Now I've got about 
a dozen other things to do before I can go home tonight and I'm sure that you 
have too. Goodbye Kate, Brian.'

Ares stood unseen by the window. 'Control Doyle and you control Bodie.' 

He smiled. This was going to be so easy...

* * * * * *

Doyle navigated the crowded pub with practised ease. He placed a pint in 
front of his partner.

'Ta, Ray. So what's this in aid of, then? Carrie washing her hair or 
something?'

Doyle frowned. Maybe the Cow had been right, at least in this. What had 
happened to the days when he and Bodie had spent practically all of their 
waking hours together?

Of course, Carrie wasn't so keen on double-dating. Fact being, Carrie wasn't 
exactly keen on Bodie. His partner had tried the old 'slay 'em dead' charm on 
her when they'd first been introduced. Carrie had looked at him as if he was 
some particularly loathsome slug. Doyle had thought that hilarious at the 
time. Now he wasn't so sure.

He wasn't quite sure how serious his feelings were towards Carrie. He wasn't 
getting any younger. Maybe it was about time he thought of settling down. But 
how could he consider spending his life with someone who didn't like his 
partner? Bodie was practically a part of him; as close as any brother. He 
couldn't imagine a time when he wouldn't want Bodie in his life. And he knew 
that he was just as important to his partner.

Doyle thought about the discussion he'd had with Cowley earlier. Whatever 
happened, he and Bodie were partners. But somehow Bodie seemed to have got a 
new lease of life. Doyle couldn't deny that he'd not exactly been in charity 
with partner for the last few days. He had blamed Bodie for the fact that 
their timing always seemed to be off in the more physical exercises. I'm 
getting old, he thought suddenly. And Bodie seems to have stopped slowing 
down. But I can cope. We'll work it out. Maybe I'll take up weightlifting too.

He snorted into his drink at the sudden mental picture of himself developing 
muscles like Charles Atlas. That'd be more likely to slow him down, not speed 
him up!


Two hours later, as they left the pub, Doyle's mind was still in a state of 
confusion. 'Do you know what my problem is?' he asked Bodie.

Bodie grinned. 'Apart from having a partner who's smarter, more talented and 
better-looking?' he enquired.

Doyle feinted a blow at him. 'Seriously. I think that I think too much,' 
Doyle mused.

Bodie responded to this piece of not-entirely-sober self-appraisal with 
giggles. 'How old are you, Sunshine? And it's taken you all this time to come 
to that conclusion? Christ, Ray, 'cept for the Cow, you think more than 
anyone I've met.'

Doyle grinned. 'Can I help it if everybody else you hang around with are 
intellectual morons? Mind you, it's probably the only way you can look bright 
by comparison.' 

He waited for a response, but Bodie was staring into space.

'Ray, can you hear that?'

Doyle listened. Apart from a few cars and the noise from the pub, he could 
hear nothing and said as much.

'Strange... something's not right, Ray.'

Doyle was immediately on guard. Bodie's instincts were almost as good as his 
own, and while he felt nothing, he wasn't willing to dismiss whatever seemed 
to be making his partner so unsettled. He reached for his gun, subjecting the 
area around him to a close scrutiny.

'There!' Bodie shouted.

Doyle whirled. Behind him was a shimmering hole where a wall had previously 
been. He stepped forward to investigate. Two figures appeared. Suddenly they 
grabbed Doyle, knocking the gun out of his hand and pulled him into the hole, 
which promptly seemed to fold in on itself and disappear.

Bodie watched with horror as the two figures pulled Doyle through the hole 
that had suddenly appeared in the wall in front of them. Even as he raced 
towards them his mind was storing a mental picture of the two men. One was 
tall, muscular, long-haired. One was much shorter, blond and stocky. Bodie 
heard the shorter one yell, 'Hercules, let's get out of here!' as the strange 
hole disappeared.

Bodie stood in the deserted street. He stared in disbelief at the solid wall, 
hitting it in frustration. Then, head raised back, almost in supplication, he 
shouted for his brother.

* * * * * *

Ares watched as his half-brother paced up and down.

'Your descriptions certainly match Hercules and that scruffy obnoxious little 
sidekick of his,' he stated.

Bodie whirled round. 'But why the hell would he want to take Doyle, for 
Christ's sake?' he yelled.

Ares hesitated for a fraction of a second. There were weak spots in his 
brilliant plan, and this was one of them. He put on his most pensive-looking 
expression. Then he clicked his fingers.

'Hades. It has to be Hades!' he exclaimed. 

His brother looked puzzled. 'But I've never met Hades!' 

Ares waved his hand in the air as if dismissing that as irrelevant. 'We're 
not on the best of terms, Hades and I,' he announced, truthfully. 'He once 
stole my godhood, you know. He mentioned that he'd noticed that I'd been 
spending a lot of time with you.' A complete lie. 'He threatened to tell 
Hera. But he could have decided that he'd get at me by getting at you. 
Hercules is as thick-as-thieves with Hades, you know. The two of them hate 
me. I'm sorry, William, it's all my fault.' He bowed his head, gazing at his 
brother from under his lashes. Bodie continued his pacing for a while, then 
swung back to Ares. 

'Where would they have taken Doyle then?' he asked.

Ares stifled a sigh of satisfaction. 'I'll find out. You can't keep things 
like this secret, you know. If the time continuum has been affected then I'll 
be able to discover what's going on.'

Bodie nodded his head curtly. 'You do that,' he said, 'and make it quick, 
Ares. I want Doyle back. And heaven help whoever's taken him. Even if it's a 
god, I'm going to make him wish he'd never been born.'

Ares stifled a grin. Everything was going just the way he wanted it.

* * * * * *

Ray Doyle awoke to the sounds of an argument. For a moment he was 
disorientated, but soon he remembered the amazing occurrence that had brought 
him here. Doyle's mind was filled with thoughts of alien abductions. By 
opening his eyes carefully he could just about see two very human-looking 
'aliens'. They were involved in a spirited conversation, in the middle of the 
room, completely ignoring their captive. At first, Doyle couldn't understand 
what they were saying. But, suddenly, he felt something seem to explode in 
his brain, and he could understand every word being said.

'... I tell you, I don't like it! Pretending to be Hercules, that's just 
asking for trouble!'

'Yeah, but not doing what Ares says is begging for it! Who would you rather 
face, Hercules or Ares?'

'Given the choice, neither,' the first man said.

The second man gave a heavy sigh. 'Well, we haven't been given the choice, 
have we, stupid? So we do what Ares says and persuade this fool here that 
we're Hercules and Iolaus. Then, when we're told, we let him go. Zeus knows 
what Ares is planning, but whatever it is, we'd better do as we're told. It's 
not exactly conducive to long life-expectancy annoying the god of War.'

'What? What did you say?' he demanded.

His companion gave another heartfelt sigh. 'I said that Ares will roast us 
over a burning fire if we mess this up.'

The other man scowled. 'Ain't that the truth.'

Doyle carefully turned so that he could see the two men better without them 
realising that he was awake. Before his startled eyes they seemed to shudder 
and then reform into two completely different people. The tall well-built man 
and the blond, shorter man disappeared and were replaced by two scarred goons 
dressed in black leather and stupid hats.

And the goons were still taking no notice of him. Obviously can't get any 
decent help around here, Doyle thought to himself, if these idiots had been 
picked to keep him captive. His mind was swimming with this talk of Hercules 
and Ares, but at the moment his main priority was escape. Shouldn't be too 
difficult...

He gave a sudden loud groan. Through slitted eyes he saw the two men touch 
medallions around their necks and transform back into the big bloke and the 
blond. Doyle groaned again, theatrically. One of the men came nearer. Doyle 
began to making choking sounds.

'Hey, he don't look so good!'

One of the men came closer. That's right, sunshine , Doyle thought, just come 
a little nearer...

As if in answer to his fervent wish, the taller of the two leaned over him. 
Swiftly, Doyle thrust his hand up, hearing the crunch of the man's now-broken 
nose.

Doyle jumped up, kicking the other man as hard as he could as the first man 
ran towards him. Then, he punched this man in the face. While both men were 
writhing on the floor, Doyle ran for the door. Amazingly, the key was still 
in its lock! God, these goons were incredibly stupid! He opened the door and 
then locked it behind him. He set off along a stone corridor. Now to find out 
what exactly was going on.

* * * * * *

A few hours later Ares reported to Bodie that he'd 'discovered' that Doyle 
was now trapped in the past - in Ancient Greece to be precise.

'This is just the kind of thing Hades would do. And Hercules will do anything 
Hades asks.' Ares was using his most persuasive tone.

'So what do we do, then?' Bodie snarled.

Ares mentally rubbed his hands together, that 'we' proved that his words were 
actually having an impact on his brother. He knew that William was destined 
for greatness, even if he refused to see it. Why, he could be as great as 
Xena! All he needed was a little persuasion...

'Well, we'll have to go back to Ancient Greece and get your partner back, 
won't we?' he asked.

Bodie frowned. 'Can't you just snap your fingers or something and bring Ray 
back?'

Ares put on his most innocent expression. 'I've tried - as soon as I found 
out where your partner was I tried. But Hades is blocking me. No, the only 
way to get your partner back is to go into the past and get him. Even Hades 
can't stop us once we have your Doyle in our possession.'

Ares gazed at his half-brother through lowered eyelashes. It was obvious that 
William was deep in thought. He watched as William's expression cleared, then 
settled into one of dogged determination. Zeus! It was going to work; it was 
actually going to work...

'Okay, then,' his brother stated, 'just how do we go about this 
time-travelling business, anyway?'


* * * * * *

Ares had spun some tale about not being able to be in the same place twice as 
the reason why he'd transported his brother so far away from Hercules. It had 
sounded vaguely plausible and William had seemed to fall for it. He'd even 
fallen for the idea of the army. By some twist of luck, Hercules was the 
guest of King Trantes at the moment. Ares had managed to persuade his younger 
half-brother that the older one had a huge army behind him. 

It had been a little more difficult to persuade William that his place was at 
the head of his own army, but he'd managed to do it. The army was actually 
made up of the more sedate members of Xena's old forces: the ones who hadn't 
joined up with any tin-pot would-be warlord who happened to have come along. 
William had been impressed by their solid no-nonsense professionalism. He'd 
been less impressed when Ares had named him 'Lord William', their new 
commander, but he'd contented himself with a few mumbled protests, his mind 
being too wrapped up in wondering what was happening with Doyle...

* * * * * * *

Ray Doyle was convinced that he was having some horrendous nightmare. He had 
pinched himself a couple of times to see if he was dreaming. All he'd got for 
his pains were bruises, so he'd stopped. This was like something out of a 
fantasy book. Everyone was dressed in very peculiar clothing. He'd tried to 
talk to people, to ask if there was a phone handy (although he'd seen no 
phone-lines), or a car he could beg a lift in. He'd been greeted with 
exceedingly odd looks, as if nobody knew what he was talking about. For a 
while he'd wondered if this wasn't an elaborate practical joke of Bodie's, 
but he'd had to dismiss the idea. The cost would have been far too much. 
There was no way his partner would pay out that kind of money just to set 
Doyle up.

Out of the corner of his eye Doyle saw something. He turned to get a better 
look. And just stared and stared. In front of him two figures leaned over to 
get a drink from the well. Two men with the bodies of horses. Doyle noticed 
that nobody was screaming or otherwise causing a panic, although he saw one 
man spit pointedly near the hooves of one of the (say it, Doyle) centaurs.

Doyle closed his eyes in disbelief but when he opened them the scene remained 
unchanged. He walked past a small dog scrambling through what looked like a 
rubbish-heap. He gazed for a while at this totally ordinary scene in the 
middle of a world otherwise gone mad. He couldn't resist it. He looked at the 
dog and addressed his next comment to its uncaring form.

'Toto, I don't know about you, but I get the feeling we're not in Clapham 
anymore.'

He began to laugh. The people near him edged away. They had no desire to get 
involved with this dangerous and slightly mad-looking individual.

* * * * * *

The plan was working beautifully, Ares gloated, as he watched his brother 
ride at the head of a rapidly-growing army. Oh, to be certain, William was 
still obsessed with finding that dreadful little partner of his, but that was 
all to the good. Ares was counting on it. But finding Ray Doyle was not the 
only matter of importance on his little brother's mind any more. Firstly, 
there were the numerous challenges that the army had received. Ares had had a 
hand in that. William had strongly objected to destroying the villages in his 
path. But with a little judicious whispering in the ears of various rulers in 
cities along the army's projected path, Ares had made sure that his brother 
had any number of battles to contend with. And with each battle the army grew 
as more and more mercenaries and deserters flocked to join Ares' new 
favourite. And also with each battle William Andrew Phillip Bodie became a 
little more 'Lord William'. There was so much he had to do: strategies to 
plan; an army to provision and discipline. Almost without being aware of it, 
he was becoming a general not just acting as one as a means to an end. He was 
already thinking of the army as 'his'. Sheer necessity had meant that he'd 
sanctioned actions he would have been appalled at a few weeks ago...

It helped that his half-brother was nowhere near Xena's intellectual equal, 
of course. Ares wouldn't be making that mistake again! Oh, it wasn't that 
William was stupid, far from it. Stupid generals end up dead pretty quickly. 
But he didn't possess Xena's devious brain.

And William's morals were - to say the least - rather stunted. Ares had 
managed to suppress Xena's irritating morality for years before Hercules - 
curse him - had reawakened it. William's sense of morality was vestigial at 
best; and mostly imposed on him from outside, from those very few people he 
cared for.

'Look, just tell this king - whatever-his-name-is - that all I want is 
provisions for my army. If he sends food out to us we'll be on our way. This 
piddling little excuse for a kingdom really doesn't interest me in the 
slightest.'

The messenger looked askance at 'Lord William'. 'We can barely feed our own 
people, my Lord General. The harvests have been bad this year. If he gave you 
the provisions you require then King Rimon would be condemning hundreds of 
his subjects to death by starvation.'

Bodie grinned, a feral, predatory grin that left the messenger quaking. 'And 
if he doesn't give me what I want he'll be condemning hundreds of his 
subjects to death by the sword... And probably himself, too. And I'll still 
get what I want. Only there'll be a lot more blood. Go on, get out of my 
sight. Run back to your king. Tell him to send his decision to me by first 
light or I'll attack anyway.'

* * * * * *

Ares grinned to himself as his half-brother dealt with yet another challenge 
to his army. At first he'd tried sending messages of peace, but these had 
failed. Ares had made sure they'd failed! Now he didn't even bother. Soon, 
'Lord William' would be initiating battles. Soon, all he'd remember was how 
to kill...

... And then Ares would have his men release Doyle. Who would run to his 
partner with tales of 'Hercules'' monstrous cruelty. Then William would fight 
Hercules. Oh, it was going to be good! Either Hercules would defeat William, 
in which case Ares could run and tell dear old Daddy that Hercules had just 
trashed his youngest son. Which would definitely bring down some Divine 
wrath. Or - and what a wonderful thought - William might just defeat 
Hercules. And he would kill Hercules if this happened. William was no 
bleeding-heart do-gooder. Of course, Zeus would be furious when he found out, 
but Ares was sure he could avoid any blame being placed on himself.

Whichever way it turned out, Ares was sure that William would then be ripe 
for his further machinations. The bothersome partner would have to go, of 
course. Easy enough to arrange an accident...

Then Ares' real plan could be put into operation. William was wasted here. 
Put him back in the twentieth century with the knowledge of warfare he had 
learnt here, and give him a real army to lead. Just a little one at first, in 
some tin-pot little country. But with Ares backing him William could take 
over a continent in a decade or so... The whole world would tremble, and Ares 
would stand behind his brother, and men would worship him again.

Okay, so there were loads of technicalities to overcome, and centuries of 
Humanity's ridiculous belief that it was the highest form of life. But Ares 
was sure he was on a winning roll here...

* * * * * *

Doyle couldn't quite remember when the old man had tagged on to him, but it 
was nice to have someone who seemed to know the lie of the land. The old man 
seemed disinclined to tell Doyle his name, but he'd had some food, which he'd 
shared with a grateful Doyle. The food had, however, taken only a couple of 
meals to run out and now Doyle was quite hungry. They had encountered what 
seemed to Doyle's disbelieving eyes to be a hot-dog salesman in the middle of 
nowhere. The man had greeted them, introducing himself as Falafel. Although 
Doyle would normally have scorned to eat quite such dubious-looking hot-dogs, 
he'd been so hungry that he didn't really care what sort of impurities the 
hot-dogs were full of. But the old man had pulled him away, exclaiming that 
he really didn't want to eat that rubbish. Doyle protested, but then realised 
that he didn't have any local currency (whatever it may be) to pay this 
Falafel anyway. The last thing he wanted at the moment was to draw attention 
to himself by stealing something. His companion chattered on about a city 
just over the hillside and Doyle was content, for now, to follow him.

The city walls were certainly impressive, although the place didn't seem that 
big. He trailed behind the old man, gaping like an idiot at some of the 
sights. Eventually, they came to a huge building guarded by what had to be 
soldiers. Just then, two men came strolling out of a doorway. Doyle stared. 
'You!'

He found his temper suddenly boiling over as he recognised his two former 
captors. Ignoring the fact that they were two to his one, and that one of 
them was decidedly larger than himself, Doyle marched up to them. 'What the 
hell is going on? What did you kidnap me? Where's Bodie? And where the hell 
am I?'

The two men stared at him in confusion. 'Whoa there, what are you talking 
about?' asked the taller of the two.

Doyle froze. The voice was different. So different that the fact had broken 
through the rapidly escalating temper. 'You're not him,' he said, somewhat 
unintelligibly.

The big man frowned. 'I'm not who, exactly?' he asked.

'The bloke who said he was Hercules. The one who kidnapped me outside the 
pub.'

The smaller man grabbed the arm of his companion. 'Come on, Herc, let's go. 
This guy's obviously got something missing, if you know what I mean.' He 
tapped his head significantly.

Doyle shook his head. 'And you're not the other one,' he announced.

It took a little time for Doyle to explain what he meant. He couldn't quite 
accept at first that this was the Hercules, but it wasn't any weirder than 
anything else that was going on. Hercules seemed very interested to learn 
that Doyle's abductors had mentioned Ares. He invited Doyle to come with him 
and Iolaus. Wanting to know what was going on, and discovering that the two 
men were heading for a 'tavern', he readily accepted. The old man followed on 
behind...

Hercules and Iolaus waited while Doyle wolfed down the food in front of him 
as if he hadn't eaten in a month. Finally, Doyle raised his head from his 
plate. 'So what do I do now?' he asked. 'Can you send me back to my own time?'

Hercules shook his head. 'I'm only a demigod, not a god. I can't do things 
like that. And, to be honest, I don't really want to ask any of my family for 
help. They may not all be as bad as Ares, but you really don't want to be in 
their debt for anything. They tend to regard mortals as playthings, counters 
in whichever game they're playing. For all I know you may be a pawn in a game 
Ares is playing with one or other of my beloved siblings. Even Zeus himself.'

Doyle sighed. 'Nice load of relatives you have,' he observed.

Hercules echoed the sigh. 'Tell me about it,' he said.

'Yeah,' Iolaus agreed, with heartfelt sympathy.

The old man raised his head and gave them a hard look. Then he continued 
eating his own meal.

* * * * * *

The army waited on the hillside overlooking the city. Bodie sat in his tent 
pouring over the plans of the city Ares had provided for him. He wasn't the 
same man who had set off on this quest three months previously. The authority 
he had so reluctantly accepted then now fitted him like a glove. A 
mail-covered glove. He looked every inch the general from his black leather 
boots to the skull-topped helm. He had always been a powerful man but now 
when he walked, others moved respectfully out of his way. In the beginning, 
the nucleus of this army had followed him because Ares called him 'brother'. 
Now the massively-grown force followed a successful general. This was truly 
'Lord William's' army.

* * * * * *
Hercules and Iolaus were busy training King Trantes' hastily enlisted 
soldiers. Hercules had been reluctant at first to get involved but it soon 
became obvious that the large army everyone was talking about was heading 
straight for Trantes' land. And Trantes was a friend of Hercules'. So 
Hercules had stayed to shape the king's somewhat too-civilised subjects into 
a fighting force. Doyle was a great help. He might know nothing about using a 
sword, but his hand-to-hand combat skills were excellent. Hercules added to 
them when time was available by teaching the other man some of his own tricks.

'Look at them, a load of bloody schoolgirls could do better,' Doyle fumed as 
one of the recruits hastened to help up a comrade he'd knocked down in combat 
training. Doyle scowled as the two men exchanged fulsome assurances that they 
were both fine really, not hurt a bit.

Iolaus handed him a beer. 'No, actually, you're doing wonders, Doyle. Couple 
of days ago they'd have fainted in horror at the idea of getting their dainty 
little hands dirty or damaged.'

Doyle grinned. Iolaus was a good mate. He still wasn't sure about Hercules. 
It felt odd, treating a legend with anything other than awe. But Iolaus was 
just a regular bloke with a good sense of humour.

Bodie would like him, Doyle thought. He watched as Iolaus took a beer to 
Hercules. The two men exchanged light-hearted banter. Then Iolaus moved 
closer to Hercules. He began to trace patterns on the demigod's bicep. Doyle 
knew what would happen next. The two of them would disappear for a couple of 
hours, then reappear with stupid grins on their faces. 

Watching Hercules and Iolaus as they headed towards their quarters, Doyle 
felt a pang. In some ways Hercules and Iolaus reminded him of Bodie and 
himself. Oh, not that he and Bodie had ever... Bodie was his partner, his 
best mate. But was it really such a huge step, from best mate to lover? God, 
he hoped not. He'd had a tipsy conversation with Iolaus about it one night 
when Hercules was off consulting with the king.

* * * * * * * *
'What's it like?' 

It wasn't a question he'd ever have asked when sober. But the wine had robbed 
him of some of his inhibitions. And he really wanted to know.

'Huh?' 

'With Hercules. You know... What's it like?'

'What's wha...Oh, that. Well, ya know... Herc has to be careful about his 
strength, but I'm stronger than his female lovers so it's no big deal. I mean 
we're just like any other two guys, ya know.'

And then he'd stared blearily at Doyle.

'Wait a minute. You don't know, do you? That's what you were asking. Not 
about making love with a demigod but about making love with another guy. You 
mean you've never...?'

He'd flushed at Iolaus' look of disbelief.

'Yeah, well, where I come from it's not exactly normal for a bloke to fuck 
his best mate!'

'No?'

'No!'

'But you're interested? Don't tell me you're not interested?'

'I...' and he found himself flushing again.

'Soooo... What's his name, then? This 'best mate' you want to fuck?'

'Who said..?'

'Hey, sometimes I'm not so thick, okay?'

'Bodie. His name is Bodie.'

'And he means a lot to you?'

'Yeah.'

'And you've never...'

'No.'

'But you want to?'

'I'm not...'

'You want to.'

'Yeah, I want to. Not that it matters anyway. Not at the moment. He's a long 
way from here.'




God, he missed Bodie...


* * * * * * 


Ares watched as his brother surveyed the huge army paraded in front of him. 
It was definitely 'Lord William' mounted on the midnight-black war-horse this 
morning. Bodie might never have existed, so little was he in evidence. Ares 
watched him with pride. His 'creation' had never looked so impressive. At 
least this part of his plan was working well. As for the rest of it, Ares was 
rather peeved to find out that his incompetent minions had 'lost' Ray Doyle 
just a few hours after they had captured him. All this time the scum had 
covered up their blunder for fear of their pitiful mortal lives. Not having 
Doyle was irritating, but Ares was confident that his plan would come to 
fruition regardless of this little hitch. And Zeus still hadn't found out. 
This was going to work, Ares just knew it. This was really going to work.

Lord William rode at the head of his army. The enemy army stood before him. 
Ares had pointed out the figure of Hercules a little while earlier. Knowing 
that this man was his half-brother didn't matter at all. He had taken Ray. 
Lord William closed his eyes. For a time now the face of his partner had been 
growing more and more blurred in his mind. Even the determination to make the 
man who had taken his partner pay was more a habit now than a hot furious 
need.

Deliberately, he raised his hand. His army waited on his signal. With the 
lowering of his hand, Lord William led his army into the fray...


* * * * * *


'Hercules says would you take charge of that bunch of new recruits over 
there?' Iolaus asked, far too casually.

Doyle gave the other man one of his best 'who-are-you-trying-to-kid' looks. 

'I don't need protecting, Iolaus,' he stated.

Iolaus tried to look as if the thought had never crossed his mind. He wasn't 
very successful. 

'Look, you can tell Hercules that I've had enough of wet-behind-the-ears 
rookies, thank you very much.'

'Hercules has already heard,' the demigod stated, walking up behind Doyle. 
'Half of the city probably heard. Look, Doyle, this isn't your time and it 
isn't your fight.'

'The hell it isn't!' Doyle snarled. 'I helped train these people. I helped 
turn scribes and merchants and airy-fairy bloody courtiers into fighting 
men.' He realised that he was yelling, and attempted to moderate his voice. 
'Where will you be?' he demanded of Iolaus.

Iolaus exchanged a look with Hercules. There had been times in the past when 
Hercules had tried to protect his mortal friend as best he could. Iolaus had 
had to show him that he didn't want that much protection. 

'I'll be in the front line,' Iolaus stated. 

Doyle nodded. 'Thought so. Well, that's where I'll be as well, got it?' he 
demanded belligerently.

Iolaus, practically inured by now to the other man's aggressiveness, just 
grinned and allowed Doyle to accompany him.

* * * * * *

When battle commenced Doyle was shocked at the sheer noise it produced. He 
had been in the thick of gang warfare and shoot-outs, but nothing had 
prepared him for the sound of thousands of men and hundreds of horses all 
trampling about in what was a very small area. The screams went right through 
him. Not those of the wounded soldiers, but those of the horses that had been 
cut down.

He watched as the scull-helmed leader of the enemy forces had his horse cut 
down. Watched as the horse rolled on top of its rider in its death-throes. 
Doyle would have bet that nothing human could have walked away from that, but 
the big man dragged himself out from under the horse with ease. Then he 
seemed to freeze. Doyle watched as Hercules came into sight. The enemy leader 
made straight for Hercules. Doyle punched out an enemy soldier who tried to 
kill him, and then ran towards Hercules himself.

By the time he reached them the two men had started to fight. Hercules didn't 
have a sword so, to Doyle's astonishment, the other man threw away his. Doyle 
started in surprise. Even above the noise of battle he was sure he'd just 
heard someone cursing bitterly...

The two men were rolling about on the ground. Having seen Hercules' fighting 
style and being aware of the demigod's strength, Doyle was astonished that he 
hadn't defeated his foe within moments. But the other was giving as good as 
he got. Doyle forgot all about the battle around him. It seemed imperative 
that he watch this. For there was something disturbingly familiar about the 
movements of this man. Doyle could swear that he knew him. He could 
practically predict how the other man would move. A strange unbelievable 
certainty began to wash over him. Then one particularly violent throw 
dislodged that scull-helm...

The hair was longer than he had ever seen, but the face was blessedly 
familiar. Heedless of his own personal danger Doyle ran forward.

'BODIE!'



* * * * * * 


"BODIE!"

Bodie reared back in surprise, searching for the owner of that voice. And 
there was Ray Doyle, his face a mixture of relief, confusion and...love. Was 
that love he could see on Doyle's face? Heedless of the battle around him, a 
smile began to bloom on his face. Ray was alive. He couldn't help it, the 
smile transformed itself into a manic grin. Which drew an answering grin from 
Doyle. 

And then, as if in a dream Bodie saw one of his men move behind Doyle, his 
sword poised to strike.

Completely dismissing the threat of Hercules, he headed for his partner with 
a sickening knowledge that he would be too late to save him...



'CEASE!'

That voice echoed around the battlefield. Barely realising what they were 
doing men dropped their weapons and left the battlefield. The man behind 
Doyle dropped his sword and wandered away. Soon only Doyle, Bodie, Hercules, 
Iolaus and Doyle's old man stood on the field. Except the old man looked 
completely different now. He was transformed into something majestic, 
awe-inspiring.

'Father!' 

The word was torn from two throats. Hercules stared at the dark-haired man in 
front of him, then switched his gaze back to the King of the gods. 'Zeus, 
would it be too much to ask what's going on here?'

Zeus stared at his two half-mortal sons, then spoke: 'Ares, you might as well 
appear. I know all about your little 'plan'.'

Doyle took a step backwards as another man appeared in front of... was that 
really Zeus?

Zeus turned to his youngest son. 'Ares has tricked you, William. Hercules did 
not abduct your friend, Ares did.' Zeus stopped as Bodie whirled on Ares.

'You set me up!' he hissed at his brother, stung by a sense of betrayal.

Ares shrugged. 'It was all for your own good, brother-mine,' he stated. 'You 
needed a little push to realise how great you could be.'

'So you decided to give me that 'little push'?' he spat.

Ares grinned unrepentantly. 'Oh, come now, William, you enjoyed it. Admit it, 
you enjoyed the whole thing - and you were so good at it.'

Despite himself, Bodie found that he was - almost - grinning back at his 
brother. There was no point getting angry with Ares. Manipulating others was 
his nature after all. Ares was a god, he played by his own rules. And Bodie 
had to admit that he loved Ares just as much as he loved Doyle. Ares 
complemented his godly half just as Doyle matched his mortal side. Besides, 
despite everything, Doyle was unharmed. And it had been fun...

Bodie turned back to his father.

Zeus continued, 'Ares wished you to take advantage of your potential. And he 
wished you to fight Hercules. Hercules is innocent of all the accusations 
Ares has made. In fact, between us we have taken very good care of him.'

Doyle had known his partner long enough to read the signs: Bodie was ready to 
blow his top. 

'How long have you known about this, father?' 

The question was deceptively mild, but Zeus seemed no more fooled by it than 
Doyle.

'Since the beginning, my son. Since the first time Ares met up with you.' 

His eyes swept over his other son, whose face resembled a minor thunderstorm, 
albeit a rather sulky one. Ares was too much his mother's son, Zeus 
reflected, with regret. But that couldn't be helped now. The time for 
altering Ares' attitude was long past. And regrets changed nothing, not even 
the regrets of the King of the gods...

Besides, Ares did have some good points. Even in just a few millennia he'd 
begun to show improvement. Hera hadn't been able to completely corrupt her 
son. Give it a few more thousand years...

... Meanwhile he had another, furious, son to deal with.

'And you let him do this? You let him set me up? Why?' Bodie demanded of his 
father.

Zeus walked to his youngest son and put a hand on his shoulder. 'You denied 
your inheritance, William. You are MY son. You are more than a mortal and it 
is past time you faced up to this. I had always intended that your true 
nature be once more awoken. Ares did what I wanted him to do.'

Ares' scowl increased. Doyle was stunned. Bodie was Zeus' son? His partner 
was half a god? He looked closely at Bodie, seeing the changes from the man 
he had known just a short time ago.

Bodie still looked extremely unhappy. 'But why involved Doyle in this?' he 
asked.

Zeus gazed on his youngest son with an expression of mild pity. 'Ares 
involved your partner. I kept him safe. And while he was with me I gave him a 
few years' energy back. I did it for you, my son. Your little army, CI5 is it 
called? It's your life for now, and I accept that. You won't be able to stay 
there forever. You won't age as quickly as mortals now. But you're good for a 
few more years. It's all your partner has anyway, before he becomes too slow 
to do his job properly.'

Bodie's mouth tightened on that, and Doyle stifled an instinctive protest. It 
was true. Much as he hated to admit it, it was true.

Zeus carried on. 'But since Ares anticipated me and awoke your memories now, 
I could see that there would be problems. You were leaving your partner 
behind, William.'

Bodie gazed at Doyle. 'Doyle?' It was almost a plea.

Doyle nodded, he tried to put all he felt about Bodie in his gaze. Bodie's 
eyes softened. But then Ray's smile faltered and he sent Bodie an apologetic 
glance. He hated to hurt his partner, but it had to be said:

'S'true, mate.'

Bodie closed his eyes, but opened them again as his father continued 
speaking. 'You have much to thank your brother Hercules for.'

Hercules stared at his father. 'I did nothing,' he protested.

Zeus smiled. 'You took a well-trained man and trained him further and harder 
than anyone in his own time could do.' He turned his attention to his son's 
mortal partner. 'Mr Doyle, you are fitter than you have ever been. You will 
be, at least for a few more years anyway, a fitting companion for my son.'

His eyes swept over Iolaus who nodded his head almost imperceptibly. He was 
quite aware of the fact that Zeus was speaking as much to him as to Doyle. A 
few more years before he became a liability to Hercules. A few more years of 
Hercules' companionship and then Iolaus would have to decide what was best 
for his friend, his lover. And if that meant leaving him for his own good...

'And now I will put things as they were,' Zeus stated. 'Hercules and Iolaus 
will be sent back on their way and you and your companion will return to the 
twentieth century.' He gazed at both his half-mortal sons and their chosen 
companions. 'I will give you a few moments for leave-taking.'

Doyle walked up to Iolaus and gave him a hug. After a moment's pause he did 
the same to Hercules. 'Thanks for everything,' he said gruffly. 'You've been 
good mates.'

Iolaus punched him lightly on the arm. 'Take care of yourself, Doyle.'

Ares walked over to Bodie, giving Hercules a vicious glare as he passed. 
'Don't think too badly of me, Little Brother. I did it for you, you know.'

Bodie stiffened, then grinned. 'Liar,' he stated.

Ares returned the grin. 'Well, maybe I did it for me too. We could have had 
the world at our feet, brother. It would have been glorious,' he sighed.

Bodie felt the last of his anger at Ares draining away. 'Why don't you hate 
me?' he asked. 'You hate Hercules so much; what's so different about me?'

Ares gave his brother a wry look. 'Just going soft in my old age, I guess,' 
he said. Then he smiled. 'Besides, we're two of a kind, you and I, no matter 
how much you deny it. I could no more hate you than I could hate myself. But 
Hercules - he's such a do-gooder. Makes me want to scream. I HATE 
do-gooders!' Ares stopped and casually slapped Bodie on the back. 'So, am I 
forgiven, William?'

Bodie thought for a moment. 'I'll forgive you if you just stop calling me 
William!'

Ares grabbed his brother's arms. 'Deal,' he said, hugging him, not exactly 
innocently.

Bodie leaned into his brother for a moment then extricated himself.

'Enough.' Zeus raised his hand and suddenly all but his youngest son 
disappeared. Zeus regarded Bodie with a fond gaze. 'Your companion is back in 
his own time. Not even a minute has elapsed since the two of you left the 
tavern. His memory of these events has been erased.'

Bodie stared at his father, unwilling to forgive anything but knowing that it 
made no difference. This was Zeus. The Father of the gods did as he pleased 
and not even a favoured son dare chide him. 

'And what about me?' he asked.

'You will remember, my son. You are not the callow youth you were. As I said, 
you must face up to your heritage. You are the son of Zeus. But I will allow 
you your few years with your partner. When you have tired of this odd 
soldiering of yours call to me. I will be waiting to welcome you. Now, 
farewell, my son.'

* * * * * *

'Ray, can you hear something?'

Ray Doyle cocked his head to one side. 'Not a thing,' he stated emphatically.

His partner shrugged. 'Must have been a cat,' he said.

Doyle sniggered. 'You'll be hearing weird voices next, mate. Always said 
there was something funny about you.' He punched his partner in the arm and 
ran off laughing down the street.

Bodie stood still for a moment, adapting to return of the twentieth century; 
locking 'Lord William' away in a corner of his mind. It would be difficult, 
passing for merely mortal now. He would have to watch himself all the time. 
But Zeus had promised that Doyle would be able to keep up with him for 'a few 
years'. 

He gazed at his partner's back. Doyle remembered nothing of what had 
happened. But he had seen something in Doyle's eyes, back in the past. 
Something that gave him hope. Sod Carrie. He could take her on and win, no 
problem. Doyle loved him, he was sure of that. And with that incentive, 
Carrie didn't stand a chance.

Bodie grinned, a predatory grin that made him look disturbingly like his 
Wargod brother.

A few years, Zeus had said. And Zeus would keep his word.

Letting out a laughing 'war cry', Bodie chased down the street after his 
partner.

He was going to make the most of every minute of those years...

The End


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