"Decision of the Heart"
Iolaus and Hercules were lying at their campfire by each other and, without knowing it, thinking about the same thing: Xena
"Let's go home, to Thebes."
"What brought this up, Iolaus?"
"Well, it is been almost six full moons and we have been so busy lately … I think we deserve a break."
Hercules knew this wasn't the real reason for his friend's request. True, they had been very busy, but Iolaus was usually the
last one to admit that, and certainly the last one to say they needed a break. But he also knew Iolaus wasn't going to tell
him the real reason for his request until he was good and ready. And truthfully, he liked to go home himself. He needed
some time to think. About Deianeira and the kids, about Serena and about Xena. About how she seemed to appear more
and more in his thoughts lately.
"Sure Iolaus, good idea. We'll leave after breakfast."
Iolaus knew that his friend didn't believe him. But it just had to stay that way for now. He really needed some time to think.
He needed to go to the house where he and Ania had lived. He hadn't been back there since his son died. Whenever they
went home he either stayed at Alcmene's or in his forge, behind his house. He thought about Gabrielle. Sweet, gentle and
caring Gabrielle. He thought about Ania. How she had died because of him. He thought about his son.
The next morning the two friends ate their breakfast in silence and started walking towards Thebes. Iolaus was quiet, deep
in his thoughts. Hercules, who was also thinking, didn't notice it until they were taking a break.
"So, when are you going to tell me?"
"Tell you what, Herc?
"Why you have been so quiet. Why you haven't fought me on taking a break and why you all of a sudden want to go
"I already told you. We've been working hard, running from one village to another, fighting monster after evil warlord and
Hera and Ares in between. I think we need a break."
"First of all, that doesn't explain why you are so quiet. Second of all, you usually are the last one to admit that we need a
break. Third of all, you usually fight me on every break, needed or not, just out of habit."
"Okay. So you're right. That isn't the real reason I want to go home. I'm just not ready to tell you yet, okay?"
"So, are you going to tell me what bothering you?" asked Iolaus.
"Come on Herc.. I know you. You have been worrying about something and it isn't me."
"Yeah okay, you're right. But, like you I'm not ready to talk about it yet."
"Hmm, Okay, fair enough.
The two walked on, keeping up small talk at first but in silence again after a while. Right until they got to the crossing that
led to Iolaus' house.
"I'm going this way."
Hercules was surprised.
"You're not going with me to Jason's?"
"No I really need to do this now. I'll come by later this week."
"Oh, Okay. Are you sure you're ok?"
"I'm fine. Don't be such a worry wart. I just have to do this now. Say 'hi' to Jason for me"
"Will do. See you in a couple of days then?"
"Couple of days. I promise"
Iolaus went off the path and walked on to his house. By the door he hesitated before going in. It had been so long. He
knew inside it was clean because he paid a woman to keep up the house, but he also knew that there wouldn't be any food
there. So he decided to go on a hunt first, knowing deep down in his heart, this was just an excuse for not having to go
Meanwhile, Hercules had reached Jason's and his mother's old house. It still was hard for him to go home without his
mother there to greet him. But he kept on going and went trough the door looking for Jason.
Jason came in through the back door. He had mud on his hands, he had been working in the garden.
"Hey buddy, welcome home!"
Suddenly Jason noticed that Hercules came alone. Worry came to his heart.
"You came alone? Did something happen to Iolaus?"
"No, no. Don't worry. We came together but he wanted to go to his own place."
"To his own place? Why? He hasn't been there since … "
"Yeah I know. Something is bothering him but he won't open up to me."
"Well then it's no use trying. We both know Iolaus. If he doesn't want to tell us then you might as well try to let all the gods
do the hula hoop with the same effect."
"Yeah I know but still"
"Give him some time. He'll get over it or he'll tell you in time. Now as for you, something else is bothering you. Want to talk
"No not yet. I have some stuff to think about and to sort out."
"Well, you'll think better on a full stomach. Want something to eat?"
Meanwhile, Iolaus caught some rabbits and was standing at the front of his door again. Well I can't put this off forever, he
thought, and he walked inside.
Immediately memories of Ania and his son flooded over him. Happy memories about their time together, painful memories
about her cooking (he smiled to himself) and sad memories about loosing them. He shook it off and went to cook a rabbit.
Iolaus built a fire and kept on thinking of his time here in this house.
His thoughts wandered to a small Amazon with a fighting staff: Gabrielle.
What was he to do? He knew he loved her. He was pretty sure she loved him too. But Ania. He still thought she died
because of him. He couldn't do that to Gabrielle. Yet, she could take better care of herself. After all, she was an Amazon
princess. But what if she died from childbirth like Ania? Fighting wouldn't help then. Although, she had already had a child,
so that risk was a lot smaller. But what if Hera was up to something? Would she be able to fight off even that? And what
about she and Xena? He couldn't just break them up. He knew how much they loved each other and depended on each
other. But then, Gabrielle had done that before. She was married before. But Callisto had killed her husband. And he knew
she wouldn't have to completely break from Xena. He knew he couldn't from Hercules.
At the same time, Hercules was going trough a similar thing. He thought about Xena. He knew they loved each other. So
there wouldn't be a problem there. But his first two wives died because of him and his battle with the gods, especially Hera
and Ares. But then, Hera and Ares already had it in for Xena. So that wouldn't change that much. But the world needed
Xena to fight for them and he knew he couldn't give up fighting against the gods, for mortal people. And he was pretty sure
Xena couldn't either. They wouldn't have much of a home life ...
After three days of thinking like this, Iolaus decided they needed some help, someone to talk to. His first choice fell on
Alcmene, but she had passed on. Well, he promised Hercules he would come by in a couple of days so that might as well
He walked to Jason's and Alcmene's. He traveled through the back road, so that he would come out at the garden. There,
on a bench by Alcmene's grave sat Hercules.
Iolaus sat down next to his friend and without speaking they knew now, what the other had been thinking.
Hercules spoke first after a long silence, "Are you thinking about the same thing I am?"
"I think so. What are you thinking about?"
"Xena and Gabrielle"
"Hard, isn't it?"
"You know what?"
"I don't think I am ready for something big like this."
"Me neither. I'd just like to go around helping people with you for now."
"So let's go back at it tomorrow"
"Why so soon? We're here now, we might as well take advantage of it. They'll track us down soon enough. You know
what usually happens to our vacations."
"Very true. Okay, we'll stay here until another cry for help reaches us."
And the two best friends sat on the bench watching the sun go down behind the hills.
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