They stood together on a gently rolling hill, sparsely dotted with trees and other greenery, and gazed about for a few seconds. The sky was clear and blue and the sun shown with an intensity that sang of clean air, health and happiness.
If he'd been anywhere else, if his mission wasn't so important, Iolaus would be appreciating the weather, nature and company about him right now. But he just couldn't bring himself to feel anything other than the urgency of his task. Hercules was depending on him and so were so many others.
"We're at the boarder." Iolaus told her, "Can you reach your friends from here?"
"Yes," Gabrielle smiled, looking over his shoulder, vaguely gazing to the east, "Our camp is over that ravine." She pointed - "Remember to join us if you can, Iolaus."
Trying hard not to be distracted, Iolaus turned to look where she indicated. If I'm successful this won't be necessary, he thought, yet he was careful to make note of landmarks, as any good hunter would. Was he just being careful, setting up an back up plan just in case something went wrong?
Or was it that he had noticed how the breeze about them was picking up lovely Gabrielle's already wind-blown hair, causing errant strands to float and tickle her cheeks and chin. Admittedly, he found it quite appealing and under different circumstances ...
He shook the diversion from his mind. "I've got to go." he said, turning again and taking one of her hands. "Be safe." he told her.
"Thank you for everything, Iolaus." She covered his hand with her own then, with an tantalizing chuckle, the girl rolled her eyes. "That just seems so inadequate ... You saved my life!"
"You're worth saving." he replied with a smile of his own. She was so young and had a full life ahead of her. Gods help her, he thought. She needed to live and love and help her people. Gabrielle was a special woman with talents she was not even aware of yet.
The couple stared at one another for a few moments.
She wished he would open up to her. There was so much more there. He rescued her as any reckless hero might but Gabrielle sensed there was something vital in the man she was missing. Already, Iolaus seemed to know her -- almost as if they'd met in another time or place. If only she could remember -- or if he'd just explain. But no, Iolaus said he had something important to do and, she suspected, they would never see each other again. But she wanted to see him again ... She wanted so much to ...
"Good-bye, Gabrielle." He raised his hand to touch her chin and leaned forward carefully, recalling all the horrors she had been through, to kiss her on the cheek.
Seeing her opportunity, Gabrielle shifted ever so slightly, allowing her mouth to connect with his. Eyes closed, she could feel him attempting, with all do consideration, to pull back but her arms came up to hold him still and soon, as her lips parted beneath his, he responded and she could feel Iolaus arms moving around her back to hold her. The kiss was long, intimate and intense, but Gabrielle eventually pulled back and smiled.
"Just an incentive." she whispered, still awash in sensation. "Find me again, Iolaus." She gently disengaged herself from his embrace, lifting a hand to trail gentle fingers across his jaw as she reluctantly pulled away.
She waved, with a gentle-dreamy smile curving her lips, as she departed.
Iolaus stood and watched Gabrielle for a moment, his heart heavy. This reminded him of so many of their other partings. No, he couldn't let himself get caught up in it now. This was a fantasy world and she was a Gabrielle that - if he could change things - didn't really exist.
Just as the other Iolaus, a man mentally and physically scarred and possibly dead, the hero she described didn't truly exist.
He lifted a hand to wave back and watched a little sadly as Gabrielle disappeared from view.
(Written by Beckers, December 1998)
"Armageddon Revisted", the sequel to this fiction can be found at the following: