Apple Dreams and Fishing Streams

by Ceryndip

March 2001 challenge to write a Young Hercules story including the following:
Fishing
Herc's gauntlets
Herc or Iolaus owie
Skinny dipping
Green apples
A net
A squid
Rain
Bandit attack
A catapult

"Come on, Iolaus, I don't think this is what Cheiron had in mind when he gave us this assignment." Hercules waved a scroll to emphasize his point.

The lone fisherman sighed melodramatically as he pulled in his line. Iolaus flopped on the blanket beside his friend. "Look Hercules, no body else stayed at the Academy to do this, they all took off, too. All we have to do is design an improved catapult. We aligned the counterweight in a non traditional manner and lengthened the arm, so it should hurl stuff with greater force."

"But if it's that simple, why did Cheiron give us all day to do it?"

"Herc, who knows why Cheiron does anything he does. He's a centaur, he doesn't think like us. He thinks like...Cheiron. You're just letting that sprained ankle turn you into a wet blanket."

The young demigod frowned, "I suppose, I just think that there ought--"

Iolaus grabbed the scroll and rolled it up, then tossed it to the blanket and handed his friend the fishing pole. "Here, you fish awhile. I'm going to see what I can find around here to eat."

Hercules shifted to a sitting position as he watched Iolaus disappear into the woods. He lifted his bandaged foot from the log he'd been propping it up on and stretched his legs before casting the line back into the lake. He idly watched the float bob on the smooth surface of the water. The increasing number of clouds reflected like a mirror. Hercules slid back down on the blanket so that his foot was again elevated above his body. He'd fallen from the ropes in the exercise hall the day before. The swelling had been down this morning but the walk out to the nearby lake had brought the throbbing back. He closed his eyes, suddenly feeling weary.

Iolaus found Hercules dozing in the intermittent sunshine. "Hey, Herc, here's lunch."

A pile of green apples rolled around the blanket. Hercules focused on one of them. "Those are too green to eat, they'll make you sick."

"Nah, I've had three of them already and I'm fine. I like them firm, like my women."

"Right, and you last had a date....?"

"Fine, you don't want them, don't eat them."

"I'll keep fishing, thanks."

"Ok, you fish over here and I'll go swimming over there."

"Swimming?"

"Yeah, I need to practice, you know what Cheiron says, you don't use it, you lose it." He started stripping off his clothes. "If any beautiful girls come sneaking around to spy on me, be sure not to scare them off?"

Hercules rolled his eyes and looked the other way, "I'll do my best."

"Unless it's Lilith, don't tell her I'm there, she'll steal my clothes or something."

"Some people would call that turnabout being fair play, Iolaus."

"Well, just guard my clothes and keep an eye on the clouds, it's starting to look like it might rain later. And you can strip the branches off that limb, it should make a good walking stick for you when we're ready to leave."

"Gee, thanks." Hercules kept one ear tuned into the splashing, with this bum foot he was going to be a slow rescuer if he had to go in after Iolaus. Balancing the fishing pole in the crook of his knee, he pulled the limb over and began defoliating it.

Iolaus flopped onto the blanket with a moan, "My stomach..."

Hercules waded back out of the water, staff in one hand, net with a wiggling fish in the other. "Iolaus, put your pants on."

"Who cares about modesty? I think I'm going to be sick."

Thunder rumbled ominously in the distance as Hercules hobbled back to the blanket. "Come on, it's going to rain any minute, we've gotta get up to the cave until it blows over. Let's go, Iolaus!"

"Ok, ok, lemme put my pants on."

Hercules gathered up their scrolls and the blanket while Iolaus struggled to get his wet body into his pants and boots.

"Here let me help you."

"No, I can make it with the staff. You carry the stuff. I carry my own fish."

Iolaus finally noticed the net. He leaned over and took a long look, "That's not much of a keeper."

"It's more than you caught all morning. Let's go." He gave his friend a playful shove toward the trees.

"Hey, easy, I'm not feeling so good here."

They made the dry confines of the small cave only getting mildly damp in the process. Iolaus collapsed on the ground and curled around his stomach moaning.

"Told you those apples were too green." Hercules limped to the back of the cave where they kept a stash of wood.

"I don't wanna hear it right now, 'kay Herc?" Iolaus lurched to his feet arms holding his stomach, "Oh, I think I'm gonna be sick." He staggered to the mouth of the cave and a few steps out into the rain before he lost his lunch.

Hercules safely stacked the scrolls to one side and shook out the blanket. He wrapped it around Iolaus' shoulders before he collapsed back to the ground.

Iolaus took the waterskin Hercules offered, "thanks, I feel awful, better, but awful."

"Good, then you won't want to share my fish." The demigod struck his gauntlets together and sparked the dry wood, starting a fire.

"Eeeew! No way, just leave me in my misery." Iolaus curled up in the blanket.

"You'll live," Hercules began to clean his fish.

His hunger sated, Hercules had pulled another log over to rest his foot on. He rested against the cave wall and listened to the rain. Iolaus was always a restless sleeper but he seemed more agitated than usual this afternoon. Hercules smiled as he watch his friends antics, "Must be fighting bandits in his dreams."

Iolaus twitched violently and sprang to his feet, startling his friend

"Whoa, easy does it. You're ok, it was a dream. Iolaus, it was just a dream."

"Dream?" The blond looking more worse for wear all the time, slid back down to the cave floor. Hercules handed him the water again, watching with concern as his friend drank with shaking hands.

"You ok?"

Iolaus nodded, "Yeah, just a dream." He huddled closer to the fire letting it warm his soul.

"You wanna tell me about it?"

"It was weird. I was tied to a giant catapult and we were using a great big squid for a counterweight. You kept yelling at it to keep it's tentacles to itself. Must'a been the apples."

"I can see where you'd get the catapult but where did the squid come from?"

Iolaus shrugged, "When I was swimming, I was sorta wondering if there were squid or something in the lake."

"Oh, there aren't."

"Aren't what?"

"Squid in the lake, those are in the ocean."

"Oh, good. Stopped raining yet?"

Hercules looked out the entrance to see a few rays of sunshine peeking through the trees. "Yeah, we'd better start back, we'll miss dinner."

"I don't wanna hear about food."

"But Jason said we're having apple pie for dessert....Iolaus? I was just kidding, really I was."

"Gimme that stick, Herc. First I'm gonna break it over your head and then you can walk back."

"I'm glad your feeling better."

The end.

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