The Wrong Path Challenge

by Melinda

Iolaus slowly walked away leaving Hercules who was standing in front of his now-empty house. Although he wanted to turn back and argue with his friend, Iolaus knew it wouldn't do any good. He knew the emptiness aching inside his friend. He knew the pain that lay just out of reach. After all, HE hadn't listened when Ania and the baby had died.

Iolaus sat down at the top of the rise close to a tree. If Hercules chose to look, he would be seen. But he didn't think the demi-god would look anywhere he didn't have to.

The silence was almost overly oppressive. It seemed to Iolaus he could feel the anger and hatred radiating from his friend's body...anger and hatred that would have to be vented.

For a few moments, Iolaus contemplated confronting his friend again...this time pushing him to vent his rage. No, Hercules would yell at him...Hercules would possibly even fight him...but he'd never lose his temper with Iolaus...the demi-god knew just how easily his strength could injure. And Iolaus wouldn't take the chance that he might be hurt and put even more guilt onto his friend.

Iolaus glanced up at the clear blue sky...a beautiful cloudless day that mocked the tragedy below. It should be raining...thundering...with wind howling around them. It just wasn't right...wasn't fair that it was such a beautiful day.

Hercules wanted to confront Hera. Iolaus wanted to confront Zeus. If the almighty Father of the Gods had allowed this to happen either he wasn't as almighty as everyone supposed...or he didn't care.

Iolaus sighed. It didn't matter, he supposed. Certainly not to his friend.

He saw Hercules slowly go back inside the house. He was tempted to get closer just to make sure Hercules was alright when he saw a man approaching the house. He frowned watching as the man slowly made his way up the walk. Realizing he couldn't stop the man from going up to Hercules' door without alerting Hercules to his presence, he quickly scampered down the slight hill behind the house and crept around to the side.

His eyes widened when he heard Hecules refuse to help the man. He edged away more uneasy than ever. Watching the man quickly leave the house shaking his head, Iolaus came to a quick conclusion.

He couldn't keep Hercules from confronting one could. He could only hope his friend's anger would soon dissipate...that he would soon realize he could thrwart Hera in less...obvious ways. But for now...

Iolaus edged away from the house even as he heard the sounds of furniture being broken. He wanted to go back inside...but it wouldn't do any good...any more good than it had done when Hercules had tried to keep him from leaving when...

"I know, buddy," Iolaus whispered as he dashed away a tear from his cheek. Taking a deep breath, he began cutting across the countryside to the village. With any sort of luck, he'd arrive there before the mysterious man looking for help. The man would get his help and Hercules would get his time.

Afterwards, Iolaus would find his friend. Once the first blast of anger and pain had passed, Hercules would at least let him near. Then he would begin listening. Then he would begin healing.

Melinda Holley
September 1999

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