Ayelet's Fish Tale

by Ayelet

{This story takes place sometime after "Love Takes a Holiday" It is also based on my story "Blood Brothers." Not much of a fishtale, but it's the thought that counts.}

"Wake up, sleepy head!!" The voice rang much too cheerfully.

"Go away!!"

"Well, I'm not gonna go away. What are you gonna do about it? Huh?"

He found out soon enough, as a pillow came flying across the room, and connected with his face.

"Ouch!" He grunted through the feathers. "Come on, Herc! Wake up!"

Hercules tried to bury his face in his pillow, then discovered he didn't have one anymore. He rolled over, stared at Iolaus, and started slowly. "Iolaus, I'm gonna say it one time, and one time only. Got it?"

Iolaus nodded, not being able to fully suppress the grin forming on his lips.

"This, Iolaus, is our day off. The first one and probably the last one we'll have in a very long time. Now, do you know how long has it been since I had a good long sleep?"

Iolaus gave it some serious thought. "Um, there was this one time when we"

"It has been a VERY long time." Hercules ignored him. "As it is our day *off* , I am going back to sleep, and that's that. Got it??"

And with that, the demigod turned his back on Iolaus, and went back to sleep.

This time, the grin formed brightly on Iolaus' lips. He was in his field now, and there was nothing he preferred to do than make Hercules do things he didn't think he wanted to do.

"I am never, ever, ever, listening to you again!" Hercules grunted as he trudged his way behind Iolaus.

"Oh, give it a rest already, Herc! you're gonna enjoy it, so shut up and walk!"

Hercules rolled his eyes to the sky. "You nurture a guy, you befriend him. You let him get you in all sorts of trouble, you eat his cooking, and give up your well earned sleep to go with him to gods know where, and what do you get in a return? "Shut up and walk!""

Iolaus stifled a laugh, oh, if Herc only knew what I have in mind.

"What on earth are you doing to me, Iolaus?" Hercules demanded.

"Well, I thought it was pretty clear. I blindfolded you, and now I'm leading you to the place I want to get to. Watch that hole, right over here."

"Silly me."

Iolaus continued to lead his friend through the woods, and after a while, reached his destination.

He inhaled the sweet air, and turned to Hercules. "You ready?"

"Ready is such a relative term, Iolaus." Hercules answered. "Ready to rip your head off? Ready to step into a big mud pit? Ready to---"

His ranting were cut short, as Iolaus pulled the cover off his eyes. "Happy Birthday, Herc!"

Hercules looked around him. The clearing to which Iolaus brought him was brilliant. A small pond formed in the center of the clearing, and large trees supplied cool shade to hide from the heat of the sun.

Iolaus watched his friend intently. "Well, don't you recognize it?"

Hercules searched the area for some known spots, and, just as Iolaus intended, found them. "It's the pond where we met. That day, with Iphicles. Gods, I haven't been here in ages! it's all so different now, but it's still the same as it was when we were kids."

"Well, you sure took your time with it!" Iolaus commented playfully. "Wait here, I have one more thing for you!"

The hunter ran to the near boulder, and brought two new fishing poles from behind it. He handed one to Hercules. "Come on, Herc. let's see if this pond here still have some fish left in it."

They fished until the sun set, reliving their childhood, laughing, talking, and generally, being little kids all over again. When Selene's chariot rose from the ocean, the two friends built a fire, and started to cook the day's catching. After they ate, as they always did, the two sat and quietly enjoyed each other's company.

"Iolaus, what did you mean when you said 'Happy Birthday' to me this morning?" Hercules suddenly broke the silence. "My birthday was months ago."

"Don't you think I know that, Herc?" Iolaus locked gazes with the Son of Zeus. "Well, it kinda goes like this, you see, Herc, lately, you've been a bit, I don't know...distracted." He gulped down some of the wine. "I'm pretty sure I know why. You miss them, don't you?"

Hercules swallowed hard. "Yeah. But I'm getting used to it by now.."

"No, you're not. It seems to me, that with Iphicles becoming a father and all, you feel the loss of Deianiera and the kids more sharply." Iolaus smiled nervously. "Sorry, it's hard for me."

Hercules lowered his eyes, "That makes both of us."

"My point is, Herc, that with everything that happened, you feel your loss more sharply, and lately, it looked like you just couldn't find the little joys in life anymore. I know you miss your family, and it's not going to go away. You wouldn't want it to, trust me. But the little things that make life less miserable are still here. Like going fishing with me, and just having fun. Or raiding your mom's kitchen, and claiming innocence when she wonders where her pies are."

That brought a faint smile to Hercules' face. Score one up for the sidekick, Iolaus.

"So, you see, Herc, I decided that if you can't find it yourself, I'll lead you to it. When we got home, I went looking for this place. Hercules, this is where it all started for me. This is where I met you, and my life changed. I was reborn the day I earned your friendship. it's in the little things you take for granted, Herc. Like your friends, your family. Me. So there you have it. we've been acting like kids all day long, so that's gotta be it, Herc. I was reborn here, so can you."

Hercules was silent for a long while, and then, he spoke. "I guess you're right. it's just damn harder than it seems."

"Would you have it any other way?"

"I guess not."

Iolaus smiled. "Good."

"I'll try, Iolaus. But I'm gonna need all the help you can give me."

"You know I'll always be there for you, Herc. that's what friends are for."

The two locked gazes, and a message has passes between them. Their friendship, like a fishing cord, would carry the weight, and though sometimes it will break, it can always be fixed, because the ties were ties that bind.

"You know, Iolaus, I think I'm gonna call it a day now."

"Hey! Herc, and who's gonna clean up the mess??" Iolaus protested.

Hercules yawned and stretched. "I dunno."

Iolaus glared at his best friend, "Why wouldn't you do it? I fished it, I cooked it, you clean it!"

"No can do, Iol'us. Us one-year-olds needs plenty of sleep you know." Hercules sounded just like his little daughter.

"Well, do you want a good night story too??" Iolaus mocked.

"Um...yup. The one about Iolaus and the Golden Apple." Hercules giggled.

Iolaus glared at him. Hercules shrugged, gave Iolaus a triumphant smile, and turned on his side. He was asleep within minutes.

Iolaus stared at his best friend's sleeping form. "Gods, he's good!" Slowly, he started cleaning up the dinner's mess.

"Uh, Iolaus." Hercules gleeful voice rang behind him. "You missed a spot."

The End

Go on to the next story in the challenge.

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