by Dea

This story takes place before "Revelations"


It meant more to her now, somehow transfigured beyond its normal luminescence to something almost spiritual. For in the Huntress' glorious moonlight she remembered how her lover stood leaning against the balcony after they'd made love. Iolaus had been dead five months, and still Nebula remembered the moonlight on his skin, bronzed and slick from their night of passion. Oh gods, how she still missed him.

"And always will," she murmured as she gazed unseeing out the palace window. She seemed to sense the scrutiny of her new people and advisors on her as she lovingly fingered two cool pieces of green jade. "Hercules should have these. I don't know why he gave them to me. Iolaus was his best friend...his brother. Iolaus' amulet belongs with Hercules."

And yet in a way the shattered stone brought her some measure of comfort. If anything, it was most fit company for her shattered heart. It had been in her possession since the day that they put Iolaus in the tomb. Hercules had left for who knows where after the emotionally blinding realization that no power or influence he carried was going to bring back his best friend. The demi-god had worn the half that still hung on the cord while he carried out his futile search of the Summerian Underworld. When he left he had given it to her. She couldn't bear to bury it with Iolaus. It was all she had left of him, and she had to have something. Having it made her feel closer to Iolaus, especially in the following days as an evil spirit began to visit her every night and nearly succeeded in driving her mad.

She had found the other half, which had split from the amulet when Gilgamesh's dagger struck it and then that brave heart, in the far corner of the temple after she, Hercules and Morrigan had defeated Dahak in Greece. She'd returned empty and grieving to the place of Iolaus' death and mourned anew for her lost love. It was then that she had spied the green stone on the temple floor. How long had it been there waiting for her to find it? She didn't know but she had picked it up lovingly and placed it on her dressing table along with the larger half, the only remnants of her brave lover she would ever have, not including of course her very life.

On this warm night the moonlight called to her especially loudly and the new queen slipped on a robe of blue silk and quietly made her way through the silent palace and out into the garden. Desert flowers bloomed in lush colorful velvets and the ornate pools of liquid glimmered under the moon's gaze. A wind blew off the desert and Nebula looked down to see that she was standing at the edge of one of the beautiful pools, one half of Iolaus' amulet twined lightly through her fingers.

Nebula sat down and stared into the calm blue water of the pool and suddenly felt a presence she hadn't known in months. It was as if the desert night folded comforting, strong arms about her shoulders as the wind cooled her skin and tousled her long hair.

"Iolaus..." she murmured.

Her brown eyes caught movement in the water and when she looked down it was into the eyes of her beloved. At first she thought she was merely dreaming as the golden image floated so surreal on the surface of the water. A cautious hand reached down and as her fingers dipped into the heavenly vision it remained. It did not disappear on the ripples her touch caused. The smiling face only shined brighter at her touch.

" it really you?" she asked aloud, more than a bit frightened of the answer. Was she seeing things again? Had...Dahak come back in her lover's form to torture her again? But no, Dahak was dead. Gone. Hercules and Iolaus had seen to that before Iolaus...went into the light.

"It's," the voice replied haltingly, as though just to speak was a tremendous effort for the apparition.

"But, you're dead," she responded matter-of-factly.

"People keep...reminding me of that," Iolaus answered with a smile and just a hint of his former happy-go-lucky self. "But I...had to see you...once more."

"Once more?" she repeated, kneeling down on the grass so that her face was just inches from Iolaus' reflection. "Sounds like you won't be visiting me anymore..."

"Can't be sure. Maybe not," he answered, concern veiling his beautiful eyes. "There's trouble."

"Trouble? What kind of trouble? In Greece?" Nebula demanded, now getting worried herself. "Does Hercules need my help?"

"No...," he answered quickly. "Stay here. Only Hercules...has a chance...of stopping this."

"Of stopping what, Iolaus?"

"Long story," he said and took a deep breath. "Let's just say...Herc has a big job...ahead of him. Have to...warn him."

And in that moment she was struck again by the intensity in those eyes. The determination. The worry and compassion for a place he no longer called home. People who were no longer his peers.

"Then for the gods' sakes, what are you doing here?" she asked. "You shouldn't be wasting your time here--"

"Not wasting my time," Iolaus assured her with a familiar grin. "You were...never a waste time, Nebula."

The Sumerian queen returned the smile and felt the amulet in her hands again.

"Iolaus...this belongs to you. You should have it. I want to give it to you, but--"

She stopped, realizing how ridiculous that sounded. Surely there was no way to give it back to him now.

"So...give it to me," he smiled.

"I...I can do that? I can do that?" she asked.

"Hope so...try."

She held the amulet by its cord over the pool and then slowly lowered it into the water. As she did, she saw his hand come up towards hers. When the amulet and her hand were fully immersed, a small flash of light made her blink and release the necklace. She could've sworn she felt his warm touch for the briefest of moments. The light faded a bit and she looked to see Iolaus smile as he placed the broken amulet around his neck once more.

"Feels good," he said. "Thanks for...holding onto it...for me."

"Iolaus, I'm...I'm sorry it's broken," she said quietly.

"I'm not," the hunter assured her.

Staring at that dear vision, she whispered, "Thanks for saving my life, Iolaus."

"No problem," he replied warmly. "It's a...thing we sometimes."

Nebula responded with a laugh--the first real joyous laugh since Iolaus' death.

"Running short on time," he said with regret. "And strength. Have to Hercules. Hope he's as...easy to contact"

"Good luck to both of you in whatever this trouble is. I wish I could help some other way."

"Pray," he replied.

As the image shimmered and then faded, Nebula whispered, "Thanks for dropping by twinkletoes. You have no idea how much it's meant to me."

Breathing a sigh of relief mixed with acceptance, the Summerian Queen rose from the grass and pulling her robe around her against the desert wind she made her way back inside the palace.

Once inside her room, she carefully picked up the other half of the broken amulet and held it against her heart. She walked to the huge window and stared up at the Huntress' moon.

"I'll keep a piece of you with me, Iolaus. Always."

The End

Go on to the next story in the challenge.

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