The Muse Tells All

by Valentin

Disclaimer: This isn't my fault. I was minding my own business. He got home early.

Hi y'all:

I've never watched Young Hercules and haven't seen the movie, so I don't know diddly-squat about Cheiron, the Academy, or how Iolaus...

"Did I hear my name?"

Well, well. How was your holiday? Where's Hercules?

"He's around here somewhere. I think next time I should put more airholes in his travelling crate. He still seems a little groggy. So...writing about me?"

Actually, I was just explaining to the IWC bards that I *wouldn't* be writing about you this time around, because I don't know enough about canon for the challenge.

"Yeah, like *that's* ever stopped you. Herc and I have been talking to some of your other muses, and they say--"

All *right*. Enlighten me. How did you get into Cheiron's Academy?

"In which time line? Those tv guys have written so many past histories for Herc and me that our life tapestries look like that junk drawer in your kitchen. Ever seen a Fate cry? Scary."

Iolaus, you know that as far as I'm concerned there's only one time line.

"The one where I live to be a hundred, right? Kewl. That's my personal favourite, too. Okay, I'll tell you, but you have to swear on Herc's pecs that you won't tell him I told you."

I'll even swear on your gold earrings. Now give.

"Shh, not so loud. Okay, first of all, I was never a thief. That pastry when I was two doesn't count, right? Or was that a different time line? Herc and I got to be friends when we were really young, because even though he was more than two years younger than me, well, you know, the demigod thing. So what with girls and fishing and Herc's relatives and girls and hunting and helping our mothers and girls, there really wasn't much time left over for being a criminal.

"And my dad was, well, a loudmouthed, arrogant jerk and not around much, so what kind of son would I have been if I just ran off and left my mother to fend for herself? And anyway, if I'd ever stolen anything bigger than a kiss my mother would have skinned me alive. I don't know how these rumours get started, I really don't.

"Where was I? Yeah, Cheiron, I knew that. I got into the Academy because my dad was a general and the Academy's Board of Directors thought maybe it would help them attract other generals' sons. And the donation my dad made didn't hurt, either. Cheiron wasn't all that thrilled about it at first, but he couldn't keep the place open without tuitions.

"Hercules calls Jason his hero. Cheiron is mine. He was a great man, and a great teacher. My dad always told me I was a lazy, stupid good-for-nothing. Cheiron said I wasn't stupid, I just hadn't found out what interested me yet. He also said my dad was right about me being lazy, and that I could do anything I put my mind to if I'd appreciate the rewards of putting some effort into it. It's kinda funny. When my dad said stuff like that I always got mad and took off, but when Cheiron said it I listened. Maybe it was because he listened to us, and he treated us with respect. You know, now that I think about it, I *might* have ended up being a thief eventually if it wasn't for him.

"Not that I wanted to be there at first, any more than he wanted me there. No girls, and what was even worse, no Hercules."

I beg your pardon?

"Yeah, this is where we get to the part that Herc would kill me for if he knew I was telling you. Alcmene got a small widow's pension from the army, enough to live on, but no way could she afford tuition at the Academy. And of course Herc was way too proud to accept a scholarship. Thought it was like taking charity. Herc can be a real sausage sometimes."

You mean a weenie?

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. My dad would have been happy to pay for his tuition because it would have bought him brownie points with Zeus, but Herc got all squinty-eyed when I suggested it. So I had to figure out a way to get Herc into the Academy and make him think he was doing me a favour. Which he was, anyway, because the place was really dull without him, but try and convince him of that--! Quit poking me. I'm getting there.

"I'd been in the Academy for a semester. A couple of my old friends from Thebes stopped by on their way to a really great fishing hole. Did I ever tell you about the one that--okay! Muses bruise, you know. They said Hercules was planning to go look for his brother Iphicles, and Alcmene was beside herself about losing both of her sons. I told Cheiron, and he said the scholarship offer was still open if I could get Herc to take it and wished me luck.

"I ran into Herc just outside of Thebes. Told him I wasn't fitting in there, that no-one would spar with me because I'd fought with him for so long that no-one else could beat me in a fair match. That I was failing all my exams because he was the only one who knew how to make me study. Said I didn't blame him, though, because I knew how important his pride was to him, so he shouldn't worry about me. That Cradus had offered me a job and I'd probably take it. He asked me where I'd gotten the horse, and I said Cheiron wouldn't miss it. Which was true, since he'd loaned it to me. I was careful to look away from Herc when I said it, because he'd told me a million times he could always tell when I was lying because I couldn't look him in the eye.

"He dragged me off the horse and nearly shook my teeth loose, then told me I was going back to the Academy with him, I was going to apologise to Cheiron and beg him to let me back in, and that Herc was going to make sure I graduated if it killed both of us. I asked him how he was going to pay for it, and he said he'd work for his room and board and pay Cheiron for his tuition whenever and however he could.

"So I let him yell at me for a while and then we went back to Alcmene's and gave her the good news, and Herc came back to the Academy with me, and we lived happily ever after. Well, in some time lines, anyway."

What about Jason?

"What *about* Jason? Oh, you mean that whole 'Jason, Herc and Iolaus at the Academy' thing? Jason graduated from the Academy five years before Hercules and I even got there; he was more than ten years older than us, you know. We didn't meet him for a long time after that. Hey, did I ever tell you that I introduced Jason and Alcmene? Don't tell Herc that, either."

"Don't tell me what?"

"Herc! Uh. I didn't say 'don't tell Herc', I said 'don't tell *her*', you know, the character in the story. Listen, you must be feeling kinda cramped after all that time in the crate. How about a back rub?"

"Look me in the eye and tell me that, Iolaus. And don't change the subject."

Welcome home, guys. sigh


Go on to the next story in the challenge.

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