One Good Trick Deserves Another

A Tale of young Hercules and Iolaus

by Ceallach

It was going to be another hot dusty day in a long string of hot days. Hercules and Iolaus had been planning this outing all week and had been pestering their mothers to let them go. Finally the women had given in on the condition that the boys finish their chores before they left and be home before dark.

The two boys were up early, racing through their chores at such speeds that their mothers threatened to make them do them over again. The threats were idle though and both boys were soon headed for the river. They planned to spend the day fishing, swimming and generally having a good time.

The spider had been minding it's own business, doing things spiders do, when Iolaus spotted it and a mischievous plan was born. It had taken several minutes for Iolaus to convince Hercules to go along with his plan and several more to find a good target. Iolaus had been thrilled when they rounded the corner and found the unsuspecting Lysandra seated beneath a tree. She was constantly teasing him and this was the perfect opportunity for revenge.

His plan had worked perfectly. A few moments of distraction provided by Hercules had allowed him to slip up behind her and drop the spider in her lap. The girl had taken one look at the large hairy spider, and leapt to her feet screaming. She'd run off toward the village as fast as she could, leaving her things scattered in the dust and Iolaus rolling on the ground laughing.

Hercules still had his doubts about the wisdom of the trick a few hours later. "We really shouldn't have done that to Lysandra, Iolaus" Hercules told his friend, "What if she tells her mother? We could get in trouble," Under his breath he added, "again." "Ahhh, Herc, she wont tell! You worry too much. Besides, it wasn't that bad." Iolaus flashed an impish grin at his friend, "I never knew girls could jump that high, did you Herc?" Iolaus giggled as he imitated Lysandra's jump. Iolaus' clowning quickly had its desired effect and Hercules was soon laughing along at the memory of the joke they had played on Lysandra.

Very soon though, all thoughts of the mornings' prank where forgotten as more important stuff, such as where the best fishing was and who was going to catch the biggest one. Several hours passed quickly in fun and games, as the day grew increasingly hot. Finally the two found a wide clear pool that seemed like it would be the perfect spot for fishing.

Iolaus had been sitting on a rock with his fishing pole in the water for what seemed to him like hours and he hadn't gotten so much as a single nibble. Sitting still wasn't easy for him and he was becoming increasingly irritated. He glanced over at Herc seated beside him. Both boys had been dangling their feet in the cool water and Iolaus had just about decided that he wanted to get more than his feet wet.

Hercules had been enjoying the chance to relax and let his mind wander. He was vaguely aware that Iolaus had been fidgeting more and more, so when he felt his friends' glance he asked, "Isn't this great Iolaus?"

"GREAT?!?!" Iolaus exclaimed, jumping to his feet, "Sitting here doing nothing when we could be having fun? Waiting for some stupid fish!" Ignoring Herc's surprised expression he quickly made a decision, "I'm going swimming!" "You can't!" Hercules protested, "You'll scare off the fish!" "Fish, smish" Iolaus muttered as he stripped off his pants and shirt, "Herc, we've been sitting here for hours, there AREN'T any fish here!" Tossing his clothes behind him, Iolaus took a running jump from the rock as Herc called out, "Iolaus wait! You don't know how deep..."

He was already too late as Iolaus disappeared beneath the water with a large splash. He waited with mounting worry for Iolaus to appear. When seconds passed with no sign of his friend, he couldn't take it any longer. Quickly picking his way down to the water he stripped off his shirt and pants then waded in. Splashing his way out to the area where Iolaus had gone in he had barely started hunting for him when something erupted from the water at his back.

Hercules whirled around, prepared to defend himself from whatever monster was attacking. "Iolaus! Wha.. I.. you.. I thought you.." Herc stuttered in surprise when he saw not the monster he was expecting but the grinning face of his friend. "Gotcha Herc!" Iolaus was laughing so hard he could hardly keep his head above the water, "Doesn't this feel better than sitting on some old rock?" He asked gleefully. "I'll show you what is going to feel better to me!" Hercules mock growled at Iolaus as he lunged at him. "Whoa!" Iolaus dodged the lunge and took off across the pool. "Can't catch me!" "Oh yea?" Hercules accepted the challenge with a grin, "We'll see about that!" A wild game of tag quickly ensued amid much splashing and ducking.

Both of them looked like drowned rats by the time they were ready to give up the game and rest. Iolaus refused to admit that Hercules had caught him as they waded back out to where they had left their clothes. "I tell ya Herc, you'd never have caught me if I hadn't gotten that cramp!" "Yeah sure Iolaus," Hercules grinned, "You must have been getting a lot of cramps, cause I caught you more than once!" "You did not!" Iolaus objected, "I just let you think you had me.." Shaking his head, Hercules watched for a moment as Iolaus climbed the rocks to where his clothes were, before turning to pick up his own.

He wasn't very concerned when he didn't spot them right away, figuring that in the rush to save Iolaus he must have tossed them a little farther than he had thought. He had only been searching for a few more moments when a shout from Iolaus interrupted him. "Hey! What did you do with my clothes Herc?" "Your clothes? What do you mean Iolaus?" Herc was puzzled, "They're some where on the rocks where you threw them." "No they're not Herc," Iolaus protested, "I've looked all over!" "Well, they've got to be there some where." Herc exclaimed, "Clothes can't just run away all by themselves!"

Before Iolaus could open his mouth to dispute this both of them caught the sound of stifled giggles coming from some nearby bushes. "Who's there?" "Show yourselves!" The giggling got louder as Lysandra pushed her way through the bushes. "Looking for something boys?" She grinned and deliberately looked them over as she held up their missing shirts. More giggles came from the bushes and Lysandra laughed openly as both boys realized the state of their dress and hurriedly jumped back into the water.

"Give us back our clothing Lysandra!" Hercules demanded. "Uh-uh. You want them, you come and get them Hercules." She taunted in response. Hercules turned an even brighter shade of red, but made no move to leave the water. Iolaus growled angrily, "That's not fair Lysandra!" "Not fair, Iolaus?" She asked in a sweet tone, "You mean it's ok for you to play jokes on us, but we can't play them on you?" "But stealing our clothes isn't a joke!" Hercules protested. "Sure it is!" Lysandra laughed, "we're enjoying it immensely!" "I'm sure you are," Hercules muttered. "Ok Lysandra, you've had your little joke, now give us back our clothes!" Iolaus was getting impatient. "The joke's over."

Lysandra glared at Iolaus for a moment and then smiled wickedly. "Sure Iolaus, you can have your clothes. We'll leave them for you by the well in the village!" With those final words she disappeared back into the bushes. "Wait!" Hercules called after them desperately, "you can't just leave us here! How are we going to get home?" Lysandra's voice floated back to them as the sounds of laughter moved away.

Hercules and Iolaus had spent a long time cautiously making their way back to town, trying to avoid being spotted. Then spent even more time trying to figure out how to get their clothes without being spotted. After a while it became obvious to them both that the girls were not going to allow this. There always seemed to be one or more girls some where near the well and more lingering around the square. Finally they decided to try to slip in unnoticed at Hercules' home so he could get another set of clothes and then go rescue Iolaus'.

Now a very subdued Hercules and Iolaus sat wrapped in robes in front of Alcemene trying to explain to her what had happened to their clothing. Hercules could tell from his mother's expression that she wasn't buying any of Iolaus' wild stories of beasts. As Alcemene's frown grew deeper, Iolaus' story got a little more far-fetched and Hercules figured that it wasn't helping that Iolaus couldn't sit still. As Iolaus finally wound down, Alcemene spoke, "That's a wonderful story Iolaus, now how about telling me the truth? Before I decide what I'm going to do with the pair of you." "But.." Alcemene stopped his protest with a look.

"It was the girl's," Herc finally admitted, ignoring Iolaus' attempts to shush him, "They took our clothing while we were swimming." "The girls?" Alcemene was surprised, "Why would they do that? What did the two of you do?" Finally a piece at a time she dragged the whole story of the spider and the incident at the river out of them. As the story came clear she had to turn away to hide her smile.

When she finally felt she could control herself, she turned back and immediately noticed that not only was Iolaus' squirming worse, but Hercules had started to squirm as well. "What is wrong with you two?" She asked a bit impatiently, "I thought I told you both to sit still!" "I can't!" Iolaus looked up at her, his bright blue eyes beginning to fill with tears that he manfully tried to keep back, "I itch." "Here, let me see." Concerned Alcemene took the arm Iolaus held out and pushed back the sleeve of the robe. "Well.." she was relieved and once again amused, "It seems that you are both going to be thoroughly punished for your pranks without any help from me." "Huh?" Hercules looked at his mother in confusion.

Pointing to the rash on Iolaus' arm she asked, "Do either of you have a rash like this anywhere else?" The two exchanged sheepish glances before reluctantly nodding. "All over." Iolaus mumbled, "and it itches bad." "I'm not surprised," Alcemene stated. "What is it?" Hercules asked worriedly. "Poison Ivy" was the his mother's answer as she got her shawl, "You are both going to be itching for a while. I'm going to go collect your things and let Iolaus' mother know where he is." She paused before going out the door, "I hope this will teach you a lesson about playing jokes."

As the door shut behind her, Iolaus leaned over to Herc with a mischievous gleam in his eye and whispered, "Yeah... One good trick deserves another!"

The End (for now).

1997 by Ceallach

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