"It's broke, Herc." A mud covered Iolaus sat on the bench outside of the village meeting hall with Hercules beside him.
"How can you tell?" Hercules gingerly tried to look over his friend's splinted arm without getting any mud on himself.
Iolaus chuckled, "Because they broke it before I escaped and hid in the mud."
Hercules sighed, "We'll have to fix it after your bath." Hercules pointed to the nearby pond.
Iolaus glanced at all the villagers milling around, "It's a little over populated for bathing around here."
"Iolaus, none of the village women are going to let you near their clean homes until you get the top layer off. Just go on in in your clothes and get the worst of it off and by then we'll have a tub filled with nice hot water indoors with privacy for the rest of it."
The hunter frowned, "Ok, if you insist."
"I definitely do."
Iolaus stood marched toward the pond muttering, "Captured by a mad man, broken arm, running all day, big fight and now two baths. Where's my comfort for all this hurt?"
Iolaus, having proclaimed himself squeaky clean, sat on top of the workbench in his towel. Septus had offered the Plinth cooperative hay barn as shelter for the two heroes. It was clean and with the blankets the villagers brought them, should be quite comfortable.
Hercules sat on the bench and gently unwrapped Iolaus' right arm, "They didn't bother to set this, huh?"
"Herc, they are the bad guys. I didn't really want them to. They're a little more into pain and suffering than I am."
"Right," the demigod checked Iolaus' fingers for loss of circulation. Satisfied, Hercules asked, "Can you move your fingers for me?"
"Yeah, but it hurts," Iolaus demonstrated by wiggling his fingers a bit.
The door opened a crack, "Decent yet?" asked a distinctly female voice.
"Yes, come on in," Hercules called.
Septus' daughter, a tall, dark-haired beauty, entered with a basket that she handed to Hercules. "Here are the things you asked for. It'll be a little longer on his clothes. We're letting them soak." She looked over at Iolaus and favored him with a stunning smile. "You cleaned up pretty well."
"I'll see you both at dinner, yes?"
"We'll be there," Iolaus assured her.
"I'm looking forward to it."
"Bye," Iolaus waved as she left. His smile turned into a yelp as Hercules pulled on his arm. "Hey! You could warn a guy!"
"Afraid she won't think you're manly enough to take it?"
"No. I do think I'm gonna need a nurse though, Herc."
Hercules chuckled, "Right." Then, he grew serious glancing over at the two pallets someone had made up for them in the hay. "Let's lay you down over there to do this."
Hercules nodded, "You're looking a little pale to me, might be easier if you lay down before instead of after and you are going to stay down and rest after. We're going to put a cold compress on this to keep the swelling down. You can talk to the pretty girls at dinner." Hercules glanced over the bruises his friend was sporting, "Tell me with all those, that you don't feel like lying down awhile?"
Knowing there was no use in hiding it, Iolaus gave in to his body's aches, "Ok, you're right." He slid off the table, careful not to jostle the injured arm. He held it tightly against his chest. Hercules watched as he appraised both pallets carefully and chose the one in the fresher pile of hay. It would probably be softer.
Hercules sat down beside him and reached for his arm, "Are you ready?"
Iolaus steeled himself, "Just try to be quick."
"Fast as I can," Hercules took his arm.
Iolaus gritted his teeth as the demigod manipulated the bones back into their proper place. When he finished, they both let out the breath they'd been holding.
"Ok?" Hercules asked. Iolaus nodded and closed his eyes concentrating on taking deep, slow breaths.
Hercules splinted and rewrapped his friend's arm with the sticks and cloth bandages Breanna had brought.
Satisfied that the arm was immobilized and would heal properly, Hercules elevated it on a folded up blanket. Then he went to fetch some cold water from the well for a compress to control the swelling. When he returned Iolaus was asleep, "Best thing for him." After putting the compress in place, he covered his friend with a blanket and settled in a chair beside him.
Hercules was startled from his light sleep by the barn door slowly opening. Breanna entered with a tray, gently kicking the door closed behind herself.
"I'll take over if you want to get some dinner. From the way he looked earlier I didn't think he'd feel up to a full course meal. So, I brought some soup and bread and boneset tea."
Hercules nodded his agreement, "I think he was being optimistic about dinner. He won't want to drink the tea, boneset's bitter."
"I can get it down him," she assured him.
"He should have another cold compress on that arm after he finishes eating."
"I can handle that. I'll take good care of your friend. You go have dinner, take your time. We'll be fine here."
Hercules shook his head, amazed at his partner's ability to attract women seemingly in his sleep. "I'll be back later."
"Take your time."
Iolaus opened his eyes to a dull throbbing in his arm and an angel sitting on his bed. "Herc, you've grown so beautiful."
She giggled, "Silly."
"Sometimes," Iolaus agreed.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like a million dinars, now that you're here."
Iolaus sighed, "Tired, hungry, bruised and my arm hurts."
"That's a better answer. I've brought you some soup for the hunger, and tea for your arm and I've got some salve for your bruises. Sit up and I'll help you eat."
Iolaus pushed himself up with his good arm and Breanna held out a spoonful of the soup. The hunter was embarrassed. Normally, he'd be thrilled a woman wanted to feed him but this was more a matter of self sufficiency than entertainment or romance. "Really, I can feed myself."
"Nonsense, it will be awkward for you with your left hand at first and you really don't need another bath tonight."
Iolaus' smile was mischievous, "You could give me a sponge bath."
Her tone was equally playful, "I don't think I know you well enough yet for that, better if I just feed you."
Iolaus was amenable, "Ok." He leaned forward slightly and took the soup from the spoon.
They alternated chatting and flirting as Iolaus ate not one but two bowls of soup and the whole cup of tea laced with a liberal dose of honey. The taste of the tea barely registered as he was so deeply lost in her eyes. As Breanna rubbed the herbal salve over his various bruises, Iolaus regaled her with the tale of how he'd been injured to protect his friend. Iolaus made a mental note to remember this one. It was a good story with lots of room for heroic embellishment.
With his belly full of warm soup and his sore spots numbed, the hunter found himself growing exceedingly sleepy. He slid down on his blankets in the soft hay while Breanna wrapped his arm in the cold, damp cloth. As the ache ebbed away, Iolaus forced his eyes open one last time, "I promise tomorrow night, we'll go dancing." His eyes closed, "As soon as I find out your name....."
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